xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

The preseason is finally finished, and it was pretty uneventful. In the case of the Ravens the last two or three years, that's a pretty good thing. We saw a new Brian Billick trying to emerge in an attempt to reach into his players' souls and develop team chemistry. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis showed that his hamstring/groin injury has healed, but he might not be the most dominant linebacker on the roster (Bart Scott has been a cruncher). This is clearly Steve McNair's offensive team, and the short passing game will complement the running game. The special teams should be better because nine of the team's 10 draft picks made the roster, and spots aren't being occupied by such non-contributors as Corey Fuller, Deion Sanders and Dale Carter.

Overall, the Ravens have improved from a year ago, and they have a legitimate shot at the playoffs, just like almost every other NFL team. They have closed the gap in quarterback play with the rest of the teams in the AFC North, and McNair, Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis and Ed Reed are healthy. The team has some fine looking rookies in tight end Quinn Sypniewski, WR Demetrius Williams, cornerback Ronnie Prude, and safety  Dawan Landry. Two other draft picks, No 1 and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and third round cornerback David Pittman, were mild disappointments, but still have loads of potential.

Advertisement

But there are still major questions about this team. Can McNair throw intermediate and long passes? Can McNair and running back Jamal Lewis stay healthy for an entire season? Of course, if the Ravens have any shot at going deep into the playoffs, both the offensive and defensive lines have to develop. At the skill positions, the Ravens can match up with most teams. But in the end, it's going to be the battles on the line of scrimmages that dictate how far this team will go, and if they can at least get a wild card berth.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement