THE LOWDOWN BY POSITION

The Baltimore Sun

Quarterback

Inside slant: Steve McNair returns for his second season with the Ravens, but he enjoyed a full offseason with the team this time.

Burning question: Can McNair make 16 starts (as he did last season) at age 34?

Loose end: Drew Olson and Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith will battle for the No. 3 job.

Running backs

Inside slant: Willis McGahee replaces Jamal Lewis, who left as the team's all-time leading rusher (7,801 yards).

Burning question: Was McGahee worth three draft picks?

Loose end: The Ravens have to determine whether Justin Green or Le'Ron McClain will take over for Ovie Mughelli as starting fullback.

Offensive line

Inside slant: The left side of the line is solid with Jonathan Ogden and Jason Brown, who enters his second season as a starter. The right side, though, has to prove itself with new starters Adam Terry and Chris Chester.

Burning question: Who will emerge as the starters at center (Mike Flynn or Chester) and right guard (Chester or Ben Grubbs)?

Loose end: One of the team's inexperienced reserves - possibly Marshal Yanda or Jared Gaither - has to become the top backup at both tackle spots.

Receivers

Inside slant: The Ravens have their most weapons in the passing game since Brian Billick took over as coach in 1999.

Burning question: Is this the year that Mark Clayton becomes the undisputed No. 1 receiver?

Loose end: Disappointing prospects Clarence Moore and Devard Darling will compete for the fourth receiver spot.

Defensive line

Inside slant: The Ravens return all three starters, all of whom are Pro Bowl candidates this season.

Burning question: Can Trevor Pryce duplicate last season, when he led the Ravens with 13 sacks?

Loose end: The Ravens need to find some depth for this group, which is thinner than in previous seasons.

LINEBACKERS

Inside slant: Returning starters Ray Lewis, Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs combined for 385 tackles, 24 sacks, four interceptions and five forced fumbles last season.

Burning question: Will Jarret Johnson be able to fill the void left by Adalius Thomas?

Loose end: The Ravens are still trying to extend the contract of Suggs, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

SECONDARY

Inside slant: The starting defensive backfield returns intact after totaling 19 interceptions.

Burning question: Can Samari Rolle bounce back from what he called a career-worst season?

Loose end: Corey Ivy returns as the nickel back, but he will be pressed by Ronnie Prude, David Pittman and Evan Oglesby.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Inside slant: All of the Ravens' specialists are back as well as Gary Stills, who set a team record with 44 special-teams tackles.

Burning question: Will Yamon Figurs unseat B.J. Sams as the Ravens' return specialist?

Loose end: The Ravens need to figure out whether Matt Stover can kick off for another season or if they need to add a specialist like they've done previously.

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