Ravens Q&A; with Mike Preston

Steve: Although they've been playing better of late, do you think the Ravens' secondary is ready for Big Ben and the Steelers' passing attack? Do you think Ed Reed will be back on the field Sunday? Since Webb's done for the season, do you think the Ravens will sign a veteran cornerback this week?

Mike Preston: Big Ben could light this secondary up big time with or without Ed Reed. I suspect Reed will play since he has been on vacation the past two or three weeks. The best hope for the Ravens is to get pressure on Roethlisberger and constantly force him to move. Even before the injury to Webb, I thought the Ravens would have a tough time beating Pittsburgh at home if Roethlisberger was healthy.

Paul: The Ravens are thin at cornerback. So why was Webb playing on special teams late in a blowout game?

Mike Preston: I think one has to really, really, question that decision. It's a fair question, but not out of the ordinary when it comes to young players. Coaches like to get the young ones on the field as much as possible. Also, with no Reed, Fabian Washington or Samari Rolle, the Ravens don't have a lot of choices when it comes to putting athletes on special teams. It just happened. I'm not holding anyone at fault.

Richard: Is Demetrius Williams out of coach John Harbaugh's dog house yet? Is there any chance Williams would start over Clayton when Clayton's ready to return?

Mike Preston: I think Clayton will retain his spot and start Sunday. You usually don't lose your starting position because of injury unless the other player is playing lights out. Williams has contributed to several big plays in the past three weeks, but remember the Ravens were playing the Lions and Bears in two of those games.

Michael: Brian Billick mentioned during the broadcast that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was becoming similar to Jeff George. Do you think that is fair? It looks to me like the Bears are just not good. Thoughts?

Mike Preston: Billick meant to say Cutler was becoming similar to Kyle Boller. The Bears have some talent, but there is little doubt that Cutler has shut it down for the year. When a quarterback calls it quits, everyone else does as well because the quarterback handles the ball so much. From Cutler's body language, he just didn't seem to care. The Bears have also suffered some key injuries this season, but Chicago got played by Denver in the trade for Cutler.

Mike: How much of a disadvantage do you think it was for the Bears to arrive late Saturday for a Sunday game? In a normal week (with a Sunday game), when do teams usually arrive for a road game? Do teams typically have a hard curfew for their players on Saturdays before game day?

Mike Preston: On the road, NFL teams are like machines. They have schedules, and everything is centered around that schedule -- from arrival time, meetings, meals, to arriving at the stadium and catching the flight back home. Every team has a routine, and when you get out of that routine, it creates some anxiety. That's not the main reason the Bears got beat Sunday, but that late flight did have an impact. It's just all part of the Bears having a subpar season in 2009.

One thing I guarantee: that would have never happened to the Ravens. The Ravens have one of the best director of operations in the NFL in Bob Eller. He is a great behind-the-scenes guy and a whiz at what he does.

Tom: Why hasn't Tom Zbikowski been used on returns? He was good in college, right? I know Chris Carr has done better lately, but I'm still curious about this non-change.

Mike Preston: Chris Carr is a nickel and dime cornerback who plays in a part-time role. Tom Zbikowski is a starting safety filling in for a position that has already been hit hard by injuries (see Ed Reed). It would make no sense to have Zbikowski returning punts at this time. Who would then play safety if Zbikowski got hurt?

B.Hopp: What did you think about seeing Troy Smith out there in the "Suggs Package?" Why would offensive coordinator Cam Cameron try to implement it this late in the season?

Mike Preston: It puts more pressure on the Steelers in preparation for the Ravens. The Steelers now have to spend 15-20 minutes preparing for this package even though the Ravens might not use it. It's a good move by Cameron. At least the Ravens are attacking now and putting pressure on defenses instead of being so vanilla.

Steven: How did Terrell Suggs look this week in his second game back from injury?

Mike Preston: He's getting there, but he needs to have a big game this week. If Suggs has an exceptional game, the chance of the Ravens succeeding increases significantly. It would be nice for him to play well. At this point, Suggs owes the Ravens and the fans.

Brian: Is it true that Frank Walker has a tattoo that reads "discipline" on his arm? Just kidding. Seriously, what was he thinking in throwing the ball after his interception?

Mike Preston: He is psycho. But for some reason, and I don't know why, I think Walker will play well when called upon. He is a veteran, and I think he'll use every trick he knows to get the job done. I've busted on Walker in the past -- and I'm nervous about him being on the field Sunday -- but i believe he is going to come through.

Phil: Mike, do you have a Super Bowl pick (AFC and NFC) you'd be willing to share at this point? I need to know if I should book my ticket to South Florida.

Mike Preston: If you support the Colts, book the ticket. I wouldn't be counting on any other team in the AFC. Over in the NFC, the Saints will probably come through as long as they can come back from their current NFL funk. As for the Ravens, they just need to get to the playoffs first. It's one step at a time.

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