Preston: A little more from Joe Flacco might make a big difference to Ravens

The Ravens have kept their promise and provided quarterback Joe Flacco with two new receivers during the free agency period in Michael Crabtree and John Brown.

Now, it will be interesting to see if Flacco puts in any extra work.

The 10th-year quarterback has been criticized for years for not participating in any extra throwing sessions to his receivers outside of the team’s Owings Mills training facility.

A lot of other NFL quarterbacks do and the extra time would help Flacco gain a better rhythm sooner with his new teammates. The Ravens were ranked No. 27 in total offense last season and were No. 29 in passing offense averaging only 189.4 yards per game.

The Ravens coaches won’t say anything about Flacco’s work ethic, but the extra time might be the difference between getting into the postseason or missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

Also as players get older, the great ones put more time into the gym and their diet than when they were younger. That’s why players like Ray Lewis, Rod Woodson and Shannon Sharpe were still able to play at high levels in the twilight of their careers even when their skills started to decline.

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It appears that second-year player Matt Skura will be the starting center once the Ravens open training camp in late July. The Ravens have the option of moving Skura from right guard, where he started 12 games last season, because both guards, Alex Lewis and Marshal Yanda, are returning from major injuries.

Skura would be a major concern, but the Ravens have a history of developing centers including Mike Flynn and Ryan Jensen. Also, if a team is going to be weak on the offensive line, center is a good spot because the position gets a lot of double team help.

Skura, a former free agent out of Duke, made reasonable progress last year and should be even better if he has another strong season in the weight room.

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It will be interesting to see how or what the Ravens do with veteran outside linebacker Terrell Suggs this season.

Suggs, a possible Hall of Famer about to enter his 15th season, has done well the previous two offseasons as far as preparing for training camp. Last season he appeared slim, fit and ready to go.

He always starts the season off strong and maintains that high playing level for about three-quarters of the season but has little left in the final four games. He also appears to gain weight and be less active.

The length of a NFL season is draining on all players especially veterans, but the Ravens have to find a way to get more out of Suggs. He is and has been the team’s only consistent pass rusher for years.

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At some point during this offseason, the Ravens need to find another cornerback or two. They have some promising young players with Marlon Humphrey, Maurice Canady and Tavon Young, and two veterans in Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr, but Smith can’t stay healthy.

There have been times throughout his career where Smith has been one of the best in the NFL, a possible Pro Bowl pick, but he has completed only two full seasons since the Ravens selected him with the No. 27 overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft.

While on the subject of defensive backs, could the Ravens please find a safety who can cover the deep third of the field in passing situations?

Please. Thanks.

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The Ravens’ 2017 draft might end up being one of the best in team history if they can develop second-year outside linebackers Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams.

Bowser, a second-round pick taken out of the University of Houston, is a physical specimen who can be an every down player.

Williams, a third-round selection from the University of Alabama, has to develop more pass-rushing moves instead of just using sheer speed on the outside.

These two could be the eventual replacements for Suggs. Combined with inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, they could become a dominant trio for years.

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The Ravens are in need of a tight end, and the draft is loaded with some good ones in South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst, Penn State’s Mike Gesicki, South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert and Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews.

The Ravens, though, appear to be looking for speed, and Andrews might be their best option to take in the second round. He isn’t a great blocker, but he has good speed and can get deep down field. Last season, he had 62 catches for 958 yards and eight touchdowns for the Sooners.

At 6-foot-5 and 256 pounds, he is also a big target in the red zone.

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