One-time teammates at Ohio State, Joey Bosa and Noah Spence are now viewed as the top two edge rushers in April's draft, and either of them could be a solution in the Ravens' quest to jump-start a pass rush that did too little and was often far too late during a disappointing 2015 season.
Shaquil Barrett left Baltimore as a 15-year-old, seeking structure and motivation, and wanting to avoid getting caught in a trap that had ensnared so many teenagers around him. He has since been to many places in between. His latest stop might be the most improbable one of them all. Barrett, a reserve outside linebacker and special teams standout for the Denver Broncos, will play in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.
The welcome to the NFL moments for Darius Kilgo were plentiful during his first season with the Denver Broncos this fall. The former Maryland defensive tackle endured two-a-days at rookie minicamps last May, appeared in the Broncos' season opener against Baltimore in September and watched Tom Brady try to lead a last-minute New England comeback in the AFC championship game last week. And there's a bunch more ahead for him in the next week.
Cam Newton brings an added dimension to the quarterback position. There have been signal-callers — like Steve Young, Fran Tarkenton and Steve McNair — who ran out of necessity, and others, like Seattle's Russell Wilson, who took it further with some designed runs. But Newton is a threat as both a passer and runner, and unlike the others, he just doesn't give a damn who he has to fly over to win the championship.
Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said Tuesday that he was encouraged to have starting left tackle Eugene Monroe back at practice this week, though he seemed to indicate his return to game action wasn't imminent.
When coach John Harbaugh said earlier in the week that the Ravens' needed their offensive tackles to play better, it was affirmation of something that James Hurst already knew. Hurst replaced Eugene Monroe at left tackle early in last Sunday's loss to the Denver Broncos and he struggled to block DeMarcus Ware, allowing seven quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. Ravens right tackle Rick Wagner had similar problems on the other side dealing with Von Miller.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco allowed the Broncos¿ defense to do what their offense seemingly couldn¿t: get in the end zone. Cornerback Aqib Talib got position on Steve Smith Sr., intercepted Flacco¿s pass and returned it 53 yards for the go-ahead score. Those were the decisive points as the Broncos dropped the Ravens, 19-13, in front of an announced 76,798 at Sports Authority Field.
Since the Ravens launched training camp last week, a deep, versatile defensive line has dominated blockers in what could be a sneak preview of the season. It's early, but depth upfront appears transformed into a hallmark instead of a question mark.
Every morning, Monday through Friday, blogger Matt Vensel will hook you up with reading material -- mostly on the Ravens but with some other Baltimore sports stuff, too -- to skim through as you slug down coffee and slack off at the start of your workday.
The Ravens offensive line will face another tough test in the Super Bowl on Sunday. The 49ers have one of the most physical and effective fronts in the NFL, and one of the most feared pass rushers in football in linebacker Aldon Smith, who will be chasing after Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco all evening.
With the exception of a single spin move by Dallas Cowboys star outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware to get past left offensive tackle Michael Oher and tackle quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens allowed just one sack Sunday.