Aside from maybe the result, pretty much nothing went as expected when the Ravens and the Broncos opened the 2015 season Sunday in Denver with a pair of stale offensive performances. The disappointing scoreline for the Ravens aside, there's still plenty of fodder as we assess five Ravens trending up, and five trending the other way.
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.
For months, they've heard the talk about how they could be the weak link of an otherwise championship-caliber team. They've been reminded about their roles in blowing two 14-point leads in an AFC divisional playoff loss to the New England Patriots in January. They've dealt with injuries and change, and now the Ravens' secondary gets another challenge: Peyton Manning.
No one on the Broncos will be asking who is David Bruton when they see his name listed as a starting safety for Sunday's season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. Bruton is tied with punter Britton Colquitt for longest Broncos tenure at seven years on the 53-player active roster. He also is starting his third season as special teams captain by vote of his teammates.
Cornerback Jimmy Smith's presence gives this year's team a leg up on the team that limped through the postseason last season with a porous pass defense after it lost Smith during what seemed like a surefire Pro Bowl season.
Former Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and his coaching staff with the Denver Broncos have a little more to gameplan for ahead of Sunday's season opener, as Ravens running back Lorenzo Taliaferro and cornerback Rashaan Melvin returned to practice Friday.
Matt Wieters is one of six pending free agents on the Orioles¿ current roster. The others are Chris Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, Darren O¿Day, Gerardo Parra and Steve Pearce. An argument can be made to bring back each one.
The Ravens have tried to downplay going against their former offensive coordinator-turned-head coach, Gary Kubiak, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees hasn't. It isn't about revenge or a grudge match, it's about respect.
The Ravens and Broncos remember their 2013 season-opening matchup, but they dismissed its significance as the Ravens prepare to open another season of lofty expectations in the Mile-High City against the Broncos.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was regularly approached this offseason by fans who spoke excitedly about the start of the regular season. Knowing that the opener was still months away, Flacco said his response would be, "OK, take it easy." Now, Flacco is swept up in the excitement as well.
Joe Flacco has had little trouble despite having four offensive coordinators in as many seasons, the revolving door of play callers creating a situation one prominent former NFL quarterback described as "dysfunctional." It's because he has an open mind.
As he enters his second NFL season, Crockett Gillmore acknowledges that he has a lot to learn, but he has become the leader of the league's youngest tight end group out of necessity. When the Ravens open the regular season against the Denver Broncos on Sunday at Sports Authority Field, they can look to the opposite sideline for a reminder of the young movement that they've undergone at the tight end position.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Saturday that rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman had a chance to play in Week 1 against Denver, but clarified that it¿s not exactly a strong possibility given Perriman¿s extended absence.
A major goal as the Ravens headed into training camp was to find one or two more playmakers, but none surfaced. The Ravens are content to remain status quo. Maybe they believe some young players need more time to develop, or there aren't any better candidates on the free-agent market.
Timmy Jernigan, who is the man tabbed to replace Haloti Ngata after the Pro Bowl defensive lineman was traded to the Detroit Lions in March, and Carl Davis represent the most recent additions to a defensive line group that throughout the Ravens history has been the franchise's premier strength, due to its depth and continuity among the coaches and players.