Sure, offseason additions have been key in turning a suspect unit into one of the NFL's best. But nothing has contributed more to the re-emergence of the Ravens 'D' than getting back their disruptive man in the middle.
There's seemingly no surefire recipe for success in building an NFL secondary, but one thing could become abundantly clear when the Ravens face the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have found a formula that works for them, while the Ravens haven't.
As the Ravens get ready to face the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field in their second preseason contest, their cornerback situation is far less concerning than it was a year earlier. Even with Lardarius Webb again sidelined with an injury, the team has a healthy Jimmy Smith, along with a mix of battle-tested veterans and young unheralded corners who are finally getting an opportunity.
Just in case Smith wasn't giving himself enough time to process his decision one day after the Ravens' 35-31 AFC divisional round playoff game loss to the New England Patriots, Newsome suggested that he take roughly three weeks to make sure that he still feels the same about returning.
Darian Stewart's interception ended the Steelers' final trip into the red zone during the Ravens' 30-17 win in the AFC wild-card round at Heinz Field. And it gave the secondary a measure of redemption after the unit allowed six touchdown passes in the Ravens' 43-23 loss to Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers on Nov. 2.
Jon Meoli hits on 10 stats, notes, and thoughts following the Ravens' 28-13 road win over the Miami Dolphins. Read ahead for notes on replacing Haloti Ngata, the offense carrying this team, and the performance of Rick Wagner and Eugene Monroe.
Inside the Ravens' locker room after midnight following a dreadful performance by the secondary where they were dominated by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, reserve safety Jeromy Miles wore a T-shirt with an unintentionally fitting two-word message across his chest. It read: "Truth hurts."
Some sportswriters name three stars of the game after the game. I'll do one better: I'm going to name them before the Ravens even play. These will be the three stars of the game when the Ravens travel to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh to try and complete a season sweep over the Steelers.
In a 51-34 victory over the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday, Ben Roethlisberger became the first quarterback in NFL history to have a second 500-yard passing day. The Ravens' best cornerback, Jimmy Smith, won't play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This week's stats, pertaining to Sunday night's primetime showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers, focus on how the Ravens are going to stop the Steelers, and whether the Ravens will be able to match them offensively.
Although offensive tackle Eugene Monroe was rested for one series when rookie James Hurst replaced him and offensive guard Kelechi Osemele was out briefly with an eye injury, the left side of the Ravens¿ offensive line emerged relatively unscathed during their first game back from knee injuries.
Entering a rematch against a Cincinnati Bengals team that exploited an undermanned Ravens secondary in a Week 1 win, that unit of the Ravens defense is now one of the deepest and most versatile in football.
The last time that the Ravens squared off with Cincinnati Bengals All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green, he caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the season-opener just behind cornerback Chykie Brown's outstretched fingertips.
The Ravens scratched left tackle Eugene Monroe and left guard Kelechi Osmele for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons. Rookie tackle James Hurst and rookie guard John Urschel will start in their places.