There are a number of games on the Detroit Lions’ 2013 scheduled that will be hot tickets, one of which is the week 15 when the Lions host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football.
To get a Ravens perspective on preparations for the season, I got together with Ebony Bird‘s Tynan Patrick for a Q&A:
1. How would you assess the team’s offseason? Did they do what they needed to do through the draft and free agency?
The Ravens had three goals this offseason. Re-sign Joe Flacco, get younger and faster on defense and bring in veterans hungry for a championship to help avoid a hangover after their Super Bowl win. In March, the Ravens signed Flacco to what would be the NFLs biggest ever contract for a couple months, step one check. Withe the retirement of Ray Lewis and the departure of Ed Reed after a half-hearted pursuit, the Ravens were able to start the process of getting younger. After fielding the NFL’s oldest roster last year, they now have just two players over 30. Get younger, check. They flat out stole Elvis Dumervil from the Broncos and brought in Michael Huff, Daryl Smith and Chris Canty. Dumervil, Smith and Huff are both ring-less and Canty wants to get back where he once was and knows what it feels like to have a down year after a championship. Bring in fresh blood, check. Ozzie Newsome is arguably the best GM in the NFL (top 5 in any event) and he just had the best offseason of his career.
2. Which Rookie are you most excited to see play in 2013 and why?
Arthur Brown is, to me, the Ravens most intriguing rookie. He is like a Ray Lewis clone. If Brown had stayed at Miami instead of transferring to KSU the comparisons would have been all the media talked about after the pick. High leadership and intangibles, slightly undersized but very fast, high football IQ. I can’t wait to see him. If he has half the career Lewis had, he will be an incredible steal. I also think defensive lineman Brandon Williams is a sleeper to get starter minutes, he is a big strong player who is faster than a man his size should be, he could push Ngata back out to DE and take over primary nose tackle duties.
3. What is the biggest question that still needs to be answered heading into training camp?
The rookies. Much is made of the Ravens lack of a number two wide receiver, but with their tight ends and slew of young specialized receivers, I think they will be OK. To me, the bigger question is whether the rookie defenders who are penciled in as starters are ready to go. Day one the Ravens might have as many as three full time rookie starters. Matt Elam is a lock to start and Brown and Williams will both either start or play good minutes. Are they ready for the big stage?
4. What are your expectations for the team in 2013?
The reports of the Ravens demise have been greatly exaggerated. Their defense will be at least a good as last year’s unit (not hard considering they were middle of the pack much of the season) and the offense should take steps forward under new coordinator Jim Caldwell. It is very hard to repeat as champions, but the Ravens will get back to the playoffs and give themselves a shot.
5. Right here, right now, are you marking down the game against the Lions as a win, loss or toss-up?
That’s a tough call, the Lions are better than they showed last season and the Ravens have a habit of struggling against big WRs (the Lions apparently have some guy named Megatron that is supposedly pretty good), that said I think the Ravens will have their way with the Lions defense thanks to their guard play and the offense will put up enough points to win what could be a shoot out. All that said I’ll call it a toss up because the Ravens have been absurdly hot and cold on the road the past two years.
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