Ravens Q&A; with Mike Preston

Each week during the Ravens game, readers can submit questions for Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston on Ravens Insider, and Preston will answer a selection of the questions.

Andrew: Thanks for the great coverage. Can you explain Josh Wilson's absence today? If the coaches don't love him at corner, why not use him as the return man? He's a bona fide kick & punt returner. Thanks.

Mike Preston: I think the Ravens will eventually work him into the rotation in the secondary, possibly in dime situations. Head coach John Harbaugh's emphasis has always been on ball security when handling punts, and that's why Tom Zbikowski keeps returning them. But the Ravens aren't getting much out of their return game. Wilson might become an option in the future, or late in the game if the Ravens are behind and need a big return.

Zeke: I haven't heard anyone comment on the Steelers holding penalty in the end zone during the fourth-quarter punt. Why wasn't that a safety?? Let me know if I missed something there.

Mike Preston: Sorry Zeke, it's just the rule. There is no explanation. Holding is holding. I think you might be thinking about if they were in a third-down situation or something similar, and that prevents a team from getting a safety. It's a different situation.

Rob: Is Ed Reed definitely on track to start week 7? Also, haven't heard anything about Brendon Ayanbadejo....Any chance he still suits up this year?

Mike Preseton: I talked to Ayanbadejo last week, and he said he could play now if needed, but he might aggravate the injury. He said he'll definitely play when his time is up on the PUP (physically-unable-to-perform list). As far as Reed, he should be ready to go in week 7. With Ed, though, you never know. He is in his own world and has his own schedule. There is Ravens' time, and then there is Ed's time.

Moncef: What do you think about Paul Kruger and Terrence Cody? Kruger did a good job forcing Batch out on the Ngata sack and he did even better on the strip/sack by the Steelers' end zone. Cody looked like a zamboni.

Mike Preston: Zamboni? That's interesting. Cody looked like a guy who hasn't played in a while. Give him ample time, and he is going to make some big contributions this season. If he controls his weight and gets in the weight room during the offseason, he can become an impact player. Kruger played reasonably well. He caused a fumble and got some pressure on Batch. Kruger works extremely hard and has made good progress from last season. He is probably still a year away from being a consistent player, but if he stays healthy, he should make a significant contribution in 2011. I was glad to see some of the younger guys play. I thought the move to get rid of Trevor Pryce was overdue, and am glad to see some of the younger guys on the field, especially in a big game against the Steelers. That will pay off for the Ravens down the road.

Marty: In the second half I thought I saw Michael Oher drop back early on two occasions, but there were no flags. Perfect timing or missed by the refs?

Mike Preston: Oher better watch it. He was clearly early a couple of times Sunday. But if you can get away with it, keep working it until they call it. A lot of left offensive tackles go early, and Jonathan Ogden certainly got away with his share.

Dennis: When do you think Lardarius Webb will be ready to start full-time? And who do you think he should replace in the lineup. I think Chris Carr has been playing well and Fabian Washington should hit the bench. We need to do something to put playmakers on the corners. We absolutely do not get any turnovers anymore. Ed Reed will help for sure.

Mike Preston: The Ravens haven't played against any great quarterbacks yet, so the secondary hasn't really been tested. I thought the test would come against the Bengals, but Carson Palmer can't hit M&T; Bank Stadium from 10 feet away. I saw a lot of Steelers receivers get open Sunday, but Batch needed a GPS to find them. Right now, I wouldn't make any moves at all. Both Carr and Washington have played well, and you don't want to sit down a veteran for a youngster like Webb. When Reed returns, that's a different story because he is a proven Pro Bowl player, and a leader on defense. A lot of people got overwhelmed with Webb Sunday. He can become a great corner and has great recovery speed. But he got beat several times Sunday while looking in the backfield. Batch hung the ball up in the air which allowed Webb time to recover. If that was Ben Roethlisberger, we would have been counting six points.

Joe:You actually picked the Ravens to win this game. What's up with that???

Mike Preston: Hey Joe, and I was actually right. For my next trick. ...

Mark:Does Joe [Flacco] audible more, less or about the same as most NFL QBs. How is he doing in that phase of the game? Thank you.

Mike Preston: I don't know how much Flacco changes plays, but he could have made a few more against the Steelers. There were a couple of times when Pittsburgh crowded the box, and it appeared the Ravens continued with the same play that was called in the huddle. If that wasn't the case, then Joe can't count. With Flacco, I think the Ravens have to play a lot of hurry up or force the tempo as far as getting to the line quickly. If a team makes Flacco go through his progressions, then the Ravens struggle, which is why they have had problems against the cover-2.

ERac: The Ravens needed several things to go right to win this game. Aside from the stellar play of the O-line, the offense somehow took Troy Polamalu out of the game. Troy has been at the top of the list (next to Holmes) when it comes to Ravens-killers. It seemed like Troy was nowhere in the picture on almost every pass play. How were the Ravens able to take him out of the game, and who deserves the credit?

Mike Preston: I think offensive coordinator Cam Cameron emphasized locating Troy at the line of scrimmage, and everyone knew where he was before the snap. The offensive line probably even had some code or alert to single him out. It's like playing against Ray Lewis. You have to game plan around these kind of players to have any success at all.

Dave: How far can we go with a defense that plays sound football but can't seem to create turnovers?

Mike Preston: Too much is being made of this turnover stuff. A lot of teams go conservative offensively against the Ravens. For instance, the Jets didn't even attempt to go down field, and neither did the Browns. I don't see Denver going down field a lot Sunday. When Palmer went down field, the Ravens had two opportunities for interceptions, and they dropped the ball. You usually get more turnovers against passing teams than running teams, and the Ravens haven't faced a lot of wide open offenses. I would be more concerned about points allowed and victories than victories. So far, the Ravens have done well in both which is why they are one of the better teams in the NFL.



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