Kyle Barber over at SBN’s Ravens blog Baltimore Beatdown was kind enough to answer five questions I had about the Ravens and their game against the Panthers tonight. Below are my questions and his answers.
Question 1: So are you happy Steve Smith decided to play one more season rather than retire or is he past his prime?
Kyle: Absolutely thrilled to know Steve Smith Sr. is playing another season. He's past his prime, there is no denying that, but what can you expect from a man who's played fifteen years of professional football.
I can’t resist talking about one of my all time favorite players, that being Agent 89. I figured he would answer the way he did. I knew it wouldn’t take long for Raven’s fans
Question 2: Joe Flacco wasn't having quite the season last year as he did in 2014 before going down with an injury. What is the key to Flacco returning ot his 2014 form?
Kyle: The offensive line producing quality protection is vital for Joe Flacco in the 2016 season. Eugene Monroe went down week one last season, and James Hurst was the backup left tackle. He graded out one of the worst players in the NFL. Even adequate protection will be helpful for Joe.
It’s not clear if they have addressed the o-line issues. That is certainly something to watch early in this game.
Question 3: The Ravens defense was 24th in points allowed last season (25.1), not what we have been used to seeing from them in years past. What's the key to the scoring defense in 2016?
Kyle: The secondary. The absence of Ed Reed has been understated. Ed was the Lieutenant to Ray's Captain rank. Ray would assemble the front seven in the best formation possible, and exploit the oppositions weaknesses, while Reed did the same on the back end. With the addition of Eric Weddle I believe the Ravens can regain their strength against the pass attack.
While we all had hoped we could land Weddle we also knew it was not Gettleman’s MO to go after a player like Weddle. Plus we needed CBs and not safeties.
Question 4: Once the back-up players hit the field Thursday night can you name one player on offense and one on defense we haven't heard from that you think will have big performances?
Kyle: Not going for any obvious players here, no top rookie picks, nor big names.
With WR Chris Matthews sustaining a soft tissue injury, WR Jeremy Butler will be the man to watch on offense. His length causes mismatches in camp daily. At 6'2" the big man uses his size to body out defenders, while putting himself in advantageous positions. Defensively, keep an eye on OLB Victor Ochi. Though the man was undrafted, he's gifted with great strength and plays with a very high motor. Throughout camp Za'Darius Smith has given him help during all drills, and his playmaking ability is there.
The maturation of the young Panthers secondary begins tonight.
Question 5: Which Raven is your candidate for top break out player in 2016?
Kyle: Terrance West - Without a doubt the most explosive running back in camp so far. That obviously may change one they hit the field, but don't be surprised when the Maryland product starts punishing linebackers with power and speed.
West had some nice games in Cleveland so the ability is there for sure. Let’s see what he can do against our back-ups.
Be sure to check over at Baltimore Beatdown for my answers to his questions.