Each week, Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston will answer questions from readers about the Ravens. You can submit questions during every game to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are this week's questions:
Do you think the Ravens, coaches included, have done a poor job in mentally preparing for the season? Since halftime of the Denver game, the Ravens have played very uninspired football. -- Art, Chesterfield, Va.
I don't think the Ravens are playing uninspired. I think the Ravens are suffering from a chemistry issue. The defense has more new faces than old ones. The offense has lost the two major targets for quarterback Joe Flacco. Give it time, Art, it is only Week 2.
I'm a lifetime Ravens fan (I'm 62). Yes, I remember Johnny U. My question though is: Does Matt Elam look absolutely lost? -- Glen
I am surprised the Ravens secondary can find its way to the stadium, much less someone running free in the secondary. Ravens safety Matt Elam is playing like a rookie, but he seemed to get better as the game against the Browns progressed. Overall, I think he is going to be pretty good in another year or two.
Jimmy Smith had a very good game against Cleveland. It seems like we get both extremes with him: sometimes he's Chris McAlister, but sometimes he is, dare I say it, Frank Walker. Do you think he will step up and be more consistent this season? -- Chris
I would never compare anyone with Frank Walker, not even DeRon Jenkins. Jimmy Smith is who he is. Smith has been given enough time to prove himself -- at least he turned his head and located the ball a few times Sunday. That's progress, and that might be as good as it is going to get. For one week, we feel good enough about him to say he might not be the Ravens' top first-round bust of all-time.
That honor: My Man, Kyle Boller.
Were you surprised that Billy Cundiff was the best kicker on the field Sunday? -- Bill, Westminster
No, all kickers will go from good to bad and back again. The days of long-term kickers like Matt Stover are long gone. Even the Patriots got rid of Adam Vinatieri, and he was as clutch as they came.
Marlon Brown is just Clarence Moore with a better QB, right? In other words, there is nothing to get excited about, correct? -- Daniel
Maybe, maybe not. There were times when Moore couldn't catch a cold running nude in Alaska during the winter. Brown is talented, but he fell off draft boards because of an injury. It is about time the Ravens developed a receiver.
With Ray Rice injured and Bernard Pierce banged up, do you agree it was a blunder to release Bobby Rainey? -- Jay
I was surprised to see the Ravens only carry two running backs going into this season. Since Rainey signed with the Browns, it is probably time to get former Ravens running back Anthony Allen on speed dial.
Even if Rice comes back healthy this week, doesn't this type of thing explain the need for three running backs to be active? What if Rice would have went down earlier in the game? Pierce was clearly winded down the stretch once he had to carry the full load. -- Ryan
Ryan, see the above question. The good news is that the injury to Rice appears to be minor. I would be surprised to see Rice play this week, but the Ravens added another running back recently in Shaun Draughn. In a pinch, Rice probably could play.
Would you agree that Pierce seems to be the more dynamic back this season -- and probably last? He has more explosion and seems to make plays more often than Rice. Rice has just not seemed like himself the past two seasons. Am I way off on this? -- LordBern
You may be on to something. Pierce is a better downhill runner and outplayed Rice in the postseason last year. But he hasn't proven himself as a receiver out of the backfield. Rice may have gotten injured at the worst time possible for him. He is still a player who must be accounted for, but he is getting expensive, and the Ravens will be tight against the salary cap next year. The Ravens have shown an interest in getting Pierce more involved and have drafted running backs well over the years. This is something to keep an eye on during the course of the season.
Sitting out in California watching the Ravens, I can't help but think money wasn't the only reason Anquan Boldin was shipped out. Whatever the case, will Ozzie Newsome or any Ravens personnel admit they blew it with letting him go? -- Chris, California
Hold your breath on the front office saying it was a mistake to trade Boldin. Time will tell if it was the right move, but if you watched the Sunday night game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks, you will see that Boldin struggled in press coverage. He plays much better against zones, as the Green Bay Packers were running in week 1. His average yardage and receptions dropped by almost 50 percent after Week 2.
Are you excited to see your best friend, Ed Reed, next Sunday? Will he lateral more than once next weekend? And, more importantly, will you and Ed go out for some Chinese food after the game to resolve your differences? -- Ron, Owings Mills
Actually, I loved watching Ed Reed play and respected him as a player, and even more as a man. He made some great contributions to the Baltimore community. I used to have a good relationship with Reed, but it soured during his last couple of seasons here. That happens a lot with great players. A lot of them don't take criticism well when they start losing a step or two. J.O. handled it well, and so did Peter Boulware and Michael McCrary.
I had a very strong relationship with Ray Lewis when he was younger, but it faded down the final stretch of his career because he didn't like being criticized as well. It's nothing personal, just professional. I never had a good relationship with Qadry Ismail when he was a player, but he apologized to me for being so gruff after he became a broadcaster. He understood that he had to give an opinion, and players don't always like it. I respect him for the apology.
It has been interesting watching Lewis the past two weeks and his observation about the possible void of leadership with the Ravens. Was that personal or self serving, or was it professional?
I miss Reed a little. Do I miss him in the locker room? Nope. Do I miss his laterals on game day? No. Do I miss his stares and intimidating threats? Yes, a little, cause he was entertaining at times, but I never took him seriously. Do I miss him yelling at me from the practice field? Kind of, because we had that give and take. I miss all those nice words he used to say about me on radio.
Maybe one day when he is finished playing we will get together and break bread. He will be at one end, and I'll be at the other end -- of the conference table.