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For all of the talk centered around the graying temples of players like linebacker Ray Lewis (35 years old), wide receiver Derrick Mason (36) and free safety Ed Reed (32), the Ravens are the 12th youngest team in the NFL with an average age of 26.83 years, according to numbers crunched by ESPN.com's Mike Sando back in September.

Sunday's opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are even younger. According to Sando, the Buccaneers' average age is 26.46, making them the fifth-youngest team in the league.

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Yet, Tampa Bay is 7-3 and in position to qualify for the NFC playoffs.

"These guys, they're playing above their head," coach Raheem Morris said during a conference call with Baltimore media Wednesday. "Their fruit is starting to bear early. By no means do we have all the pieces that we need, and by no means do we have all of the pieces in place. But we're learning lessons every week, and we're doing it while we're winning. The question of youth versus experience is an age-old debate, but Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn't seem to think that youth was hampering Tampa Bay.

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"Well, they're 7-3," Harbaugh said. "They are young – it's just age. In terms of age, they're young. They've got a bunch of rookies – they have six or seven rookie starters. [They have] a rookie quarterback. Both of their quarterbacks are second-year guys. And you can just go right down the list. They play like a bunch of kids. They run around and get after it and are enthusiastic and all that. And I'm sure it's got its pluses and its minuses. We'll try to negate the pluses that the youth brings to the table, and we'll try to take full advantage of what those minuses are."

Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson pointed out that the Buccaneers could be positioned for a long-term stretch of success in the future if their young players realize their potential and avoid significant loss via the free-agency route.

"They've got a lot of young players, which is a positive for them," Johnson said. "Obviously, they're going to be good for a while. Anytime you've got young players like that, you don't want to let their momentum get rolling because once they build their momentum, they start getting excited and they're just going to keep it on you. So you've just got to get on them early."

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