Ravens roster breakdown

August 31, 2002|By Jamison Hensley

Offense

Quarterbacks (2)

Starter: Chris Redman.

Backup: Jeff Blake.

Skinny: Redman looked like a first-year starter during the preseason, completing 58 percent of his passes for no touchdowns and three interceptions. He showed a toughness in the pocket and some precision in the short passing game. But Redman has yet to prove he can stretch teams downfield. Blake, an 11-year veteran, is the more seasoned, strong-armed option. The Ravens, though, are committed to stick with Redman unless he starts throwing games away.

Tailbacks (4)

Starter: Jamal Lewis.

Backups: Chester Taylor, Tellis Redmon and Dameon Hunter.

Skinny: Coming off major knee surgery, Lewis has looked strong in his two preseason cameos. The Ravens, however, don't expect Lewis to be a 30-carry per game back early this season. That means Taylor will have to pick up the slack. A sixth-round pick, Taylor is a more compact runner than Lewis but can still be effective running in between the tackles. Redmon is seen more as a third-down back, and Hunter will have a presence on special teams.

Fullbacks (2)

Starter: Alan Ricard.

Backup: Sam Gash.

Skinny: While Gash is a grizzled and proven veteran, the Ravens are sticking with youth this season and will go with Ricard as the starter. Ricard has been impressive this preseason, with a mauling run-blocking style that is similar to Gash. Considered one of the best lead blockers over this past decade, Gash will be asked to tutor Ricard.

Linemen (8)

Starters: LT Jonathan Ogden, LG Casey Rabach, C Mike Flynn, RG Bennie Anderson, RT Edwin Mulitalo.

Backups: C/G Jason Thomas, OT Ethan Brooks and G Mike Collins.

Skinny: Ogden is the anchor on the one side while Mulitalo is the biggest question mark on the opposite end. Ogden is looking for his sixth straight Pro Bowl, and Mulitalo has had a rough transition from left guard to right tackle. Rabach is the only new starter of the group and he has shown great mobility. Flynn and Anderson are entering their second seasons as starters at their positions.

Wide receivers (4)

Starters: Travis Taylor and Brandon Stokley.

Backups: Ron Johnson and Javin Hunter.

Skinny: If Redman has any shot at establishing himself, he needs his receiving corps to step up as playmakers. Taylor has been a model of inconsistency, and Stokley has trouble staying healthy. Each has the physical tools but neither has caught more than 42 passes in a season. The backups are two rookies that make youthful mistakes while flashing a strong upside. Despite a couple of recent drops, Johnson has been the most dependable receiver of the preseason. Hunter is the speed receiver of this group and could develop into a viable deep threat.

Tight ends (3)

Starter: Todd Heap.

Backups: John Jones and Terry Jones.

Skinny: This may be the deepest unit on the team. Filling the void of Shannon Sharpe is Heap, a former first-round pick who is poised for a breakthrough season. With his size and ability to run after the catch, he is quickly growing into Redman's go-to receiver. John Jones and Terry Jones are physical at the point of attack and will be key blockers in the team's two tight-end formations.

Defense

Nose tackles (2)

Starter: Kelly Gregg.

Backup: Maake Kemoeatu.

Skinny: Gregg isn't the prototypical nose tackle but offsets his lack of size with leverage. A former amateur wrestler, Gregg is tough to move when he gets under the offensive lineman's pads. Kemoeatu, an undrafted rookie out of Utah, is a raw prospect who started most of the preseason and will rotate with Gregg.

Defensive ends (5)

Starters: Adalius Thomas and Tony Weaver.

Backups: Michael McCrary, Marques Douglas and Nate Bolling.

Skinny: Thomas is returning to defensive end after working the entire off-season at outside linebacker. Although Thomas has the knack to make spectacular plays, he needs to perform at a more consistent level. Weaver could be a real find in the second round if he can recover from a high ankle sprain. He has surprised coaches with his athleticism. McCrary, who is coming off knee surgery, will be more of a pass-rushing specialist. Douglas and Bolling provide average yet inexperienced depth.

Inside linebackers (4)

Starters: Ray Lewis and Ed Hartwell.

Backups: Bernardo Harris and Bart Scott.

Skinny: Perhaps the most dominating defender in the league, Lewis is going to have to adapt to the team's new 3-4 defensive scheme. Without Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams clogging up the middle, Lewis will have to run through more traffic to make tackles. Hartwell has benefited from the new scheme because he gets to play alongside Lewis. Shooting the gaps this preseason, Hartwell led Ravens starters with 20 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles. Harris is a sound run stopper from the Green Bay Packers, and Scott is a gifted prospect.

Outside linebackers (4)

Starters: Peter Boulware and Shannon Taylor.

Backups: Cornell Brown and J.R. Johnson.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.