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State of the Ravens review: Rice will return

The Ravens held their annual season-ending “State of the Ravens” press conference Wednesday at the team’s practice facility in Owings Mills, with owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass, general manger and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh fielding questions from reporters.

Bisciotti still hasn’t gotten over the team’s 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game and asked what the team needs to do to get over the hump, he replied, “hold onto a ball.” That being said, he said he “died with” Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff after their miscues in the AFC championship game.

In terms of the looming offseason decisions involving quarterback Joe Flacco, who is entering the final year of his contract, and running back Ray Rice and offensive guard Ben Grubbs, who are both unrestricted free agents, Bisciotti guaranteed that both Flacco and Rice will be with the Ravens in 2012, even if it means they have to put the franchise tag on Rice. But Bisciotti and Newsome could make no guarantees about Grubbs and his future here. They made it clear they like him as a player, but they also pointed out that signing Grubbs now could mean that the team won’t be able to keep another young player in the future.

Everyone raved about Flacco and where the Ravens offense is heading, and Bisciotti gave a lot of stats supporting offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. However, he said that Flacco hasn’t done enough to silence his critics, though if Evans had caught that pass in the Patriots loss, he said they may have been silenced.

The Ravens' brain trust couldn’t say for sure that safety Ed Reed will play in 2012. “Ed doesn’t give definitive answers,” Bisciotti said, drawing laughter from reporters. But it sounded like they are expecting Reed to be back next season. Asked about finding long-term replacements for both Reed and linebacker Ray Lewis, Bisciotti said that Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and Jimmy Smith are their replacements, meaning that the team might be weak at linebacker or safety in the future, but they will have those guys as star players on defense.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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