Baltimore Sun blogger and reporter Matt Vensel gives his take on the Baltimore Ravens' loss to the Denver Broncos, including thoughts on the Ravens defense, Joe Flacco missing Dennis Pitta and John Harbaugh's decision not to challenge Wes Welker's non-catch.
The Ravens wouldn¿t be walking into Sports Authority Field at Mile High as the defending Super Bowl champs on Thursday night had they not been dominant when it mattered in the most important 20 yards of the field.
As an encore, Flacco, who racked up team accomplishments since his rookie season in 2008, wants to take his individual game to the next level this season. It won't be easy with increased expectations and the loss of two of his favorite receivers. But if anyone can shrug off all this pressure, it's Flacco.
A tight budget could make it extremely difficult to retain many unrestricted free agents, which includes offensive tackle Michael Oher, tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, cornerback Corey Graham, middle linebacker Daryl Smith, defensive end Arthur Jones, strong safety James Ihedigbo and kick returner Jacoby Jones. And the Ravens may not be able to expand their payroll with high-dollar free agents from other teams
As the Ravens try to defend their Super Bowl title, they're betting heavily on the acumen of general manager Ozzie Newsome. Though some speculated faintly that Newsome might step away in the afterglow of a second championship, he has instead embraced the challenge of reconfiguring the roster one more time. It's a process that might inspire great anxiety in many NFL cities. But that's less the case in Baltimore where in Ozzie fans trust.
Injured tight end Dennis Pitta hasn't been ruled out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair his dislocated, fractured right hip with the Ravens leaning toward placing him on injured reserve-designated to return next week.
It took only a few moments for Ravens Pro Bowl offensive guard Marshal Yanda and starting cornerback Lardarius Webb during their respective preseason debuts to prove that their surgically repaired limbs are sound.
Heading into Thursday's nationally-televised preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens' intent is clear. In what is expected to be the last extended playing time for the starters before the Sept. 5 regular-season opener in Denver, the Ravens are focused on developing some momentum and rhythm on offense.
Three-receiver sets were by far the most commonly used personnel grouping in the NFL last season. Even the Ravens used them on nearly half of their snaps. By putting an extra wide receiver on the field, the Ravens are able to stretch defenses and take full advantage of Flacco's strong arm. They are still trying to determine which three wideouts are their best combination, but the three-receiver sets are here to stay in Baltimore and in the NFL as a whole.