But more than a third of the way through this season, the Ravens search for a competent running game remains mystifying and Ravens running back Ray Rice, their three-time Pro Bowl back, has provided far more questions than answers.
Go ahead on this last holiday of the summer and enjoy one last, great, TV wallow in Super Bowl glory at 9 tonight when the NFL Network presents "America's Game: 2012 Baltimore Ravens." It's the NFL Films documentary on the champion's Super Bowl season. And like last year's Ravens, it's a winner.
On that unforgettable January night in Denver, the Ravens walked into Sports Authority Field at Mile High as heavy underdogs — a team that few outside their locker room believed had a realistic chance to defeat quarterback Peyton Manning and the top-seeded Broncos — and left victorious four hours and 11 minutes later.
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.
Pitta was a clutch target who was particularly valuable to quarterback Joe Flacco on key third downs and red-zone situations. He is a skilled route runner with arguably the most reliable hands on the Super Bowl champions' roster.
Although Pierce has bulked up 10 pounds since last season to 228 pounds, the native of Ardmore, Pa., has maintained a lean build. Pierce has always preferred running through defenders rather than around them, but is working on battling that natural tendency to plow straight ahead.
One year ago, Rice was the talk of the NFL following a career-high 2,068 combined rushing and receiving yards in 2011. He was celebrating his newly-minted five-year, $40 million maximum value contract that included a $15 million signing bonus, the highest in league history for a running back.
In his role as an NFL Network analyst, McNabb criticized Rice this summer for fumbling. Rice fumbled twice in an AFC wild-card victory over the Indianapolis Colts and lost a fumble in the second half of the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Months before they would lift the Lombardi Trophy into the confetti-filled air, the Ravens' top decision makers started to have regular discussions about the future of the organization and the potentially wide-scale changes it would face following the 2012 season.
When training camp launches later this month at team headquarters, a faster, more assured Pierce could pay significant dividends for the Ravens as they attempt to defend their Super Bowl title. As the primary backup to Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, Pierce is looking to emerge as a bigger scoring threat by finishing off long runs after scoring one touchdown last season when he occasionally flashed breakaway skills.
Brian Billick had been an NFL head coach for all of one season when he learned that his star player, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, was arrested following a post 2000 Super Bowl altercation in Atlanta that left two men dead.
A former NFL Defensive Player of the Year who's the NFL's all-time active leader with 61 interceptions, Reed signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Houston Texans following the Super Bowl. He's ranked 18th on the list.
Could JaMarcus Russell, he of purple drank fame, soon be vying for a chance to throw passes in purple? The Ravens don't have a workout scheduled with Russell, but the quarterback has said they are interested.
As impressive a career Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher put together in 13 seasons before retiring Wednesday, the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year acknowledged his accomplishments were trumped by legendary Ravens star Ray Lewis.
Unless you are a football junkie, you probably don't know or don't care that the Kansas City Chiefs hired Chris Ault, the man who invented the Pistol offense and coached Colin Kaepernick at Nevada, to a consulting gig. But it might interest you that the Baltimore Ravens reportedly expressed interest in Ault.
The NFL Network is revealing its list of the top 100 players in the 2012 season. But knowing how little thought some players give while filling out their ballots, I have a hard time taking that list seriously. The list that interested me more was the top 101 players of 2012 from the guys over at Pro Football Focus.
Now that Lewis has retired, the Ravens are tasked with replacing him to bolster an inside linebacker spot weakened by Dannell Ellerbe signing with the Miami Dolphins and Jameel McClain still not medically cleared from a spinal cord contusion. Plus, trouble-prone middle linebacker Rolando McClain was arrested this week and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Austin is quick to admit being a first-round pick probably wouldn't have been the case a few years ago, when NFL teams wouldn't have coveted a 5-foot-8, 174-pound receiver who did most of his damage out the slot, no matter how slippery he was in the open field.
As general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens put the finishing touches on their draft board in preparation for Thursday's 2013 NFL draft, there is a new class of collegiate prospects who have smitten Ravens scouts, coaches and front-office decision-makers. The scouting process is long, tiring and taxing, but each spring, there are players like Yanda who become the object of the Ravens' eye and other NFL teams.
The Ravens are the owners of that final first-round pick this year. The Ravens always think big at this time of year but their focus is not on finding the next Darrell Green. It's on restocking a roster that lost a number of key players from the team that beat the San Francisco 49ers 2 1/2 months ago to win Super Bowl XLVII.
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan is never shy about voicing his opinion so perhaps it should come as no surprise that the Ravens former defensive coordinator weighed in on a matter that has nothing to do with him or his current team.