Hey, Jamison! Ravens Beat Reporter


Answers Your Questions

December 04, 2009|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley , jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Each week, Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley will answer fans' questions about the Ravens. To submit a question, e-mail sports@baltsun.com. Write Hey, Jamison! in the subject field and provide your name, the city you live in and phone number so we can verify the e-mail.

HEY, JAMISON:: I'm not willing to drink the purple Kool-Aid and jump on the Paul Kruger bandwagon just yet. His interception was great, and showed a lot of athleticism. But it seems to me he hesitates at the snap, tries to read-and-react and therefore can't use his speed to get penetration. And he's not yet stout enough to simply plug up running lanes. What do you think? I see him more as an upright linebacker in the Jarret Johnson mold than as a finger-in-the-dirt pass rusher.

Justin E. Fine


HEY, JUSTIN: : I wouldn't drink it either at this point, although I was a big fan of the purple Kool-Aid after playing some Wiffle Ball as a kid. What fans have to remember about Kruger is he's a developmental player. Ravens coach John Harbaugh hinted at the fact that Kruger needs to become a better player in practice, so it seems as if he still has something to prove to the coaches.

The Ravens drafted Kruger in the second round this year about three months before they signed linebacker-defensive end Terrell Suggs to an extension. Kruger was the team's insurance for next season if the Ravens couldn't keep Suggs. Now, they have to figure out where he fits. The Ravens' track record shows that their first-round picks make an impact immediately and some of their second-round selections (Dwan Edwards and Chris Chester) need time to find their niche.

HEY, JAMISON:: Do you know the percentage of times the Ravens have been flagged this season for "blocking in the back" on kickoffs and punt returns? Is it hereditary or an acquired skill?

Adam Panarese


HEY, ADAM:: I don't have the exact percentage in front of me, but special teams penalties are the worst. The penalties are assessed at the point of the infraction. So teams lose 10 yards from where the illegal block occurred in addition to the yardage gained from the return. Against Pittsburgh, four penalties on the Ravens' return teams resulted in a net loss of 78 yards.

The toughest one came with 1:17 left in regulation when Chris Carr returned a punt 43 yards but Tavares Gooden was flagged for an illegal block above the waist. Without the penalty, the Ravens would have started at the Pittsburgh 31-yard line. Instead, they were moved back to their own 29. Some people say these penalties show a lack of discipline. Really, it's just up to the players to be smart.

HEY, JAMISON:: It's been obvious since the first week of the season that the Ravens needed help in the secondary, and after about Week 5 everyone was screaming for a solution. The Ravens' position on this has consistently been that there was "no one out there." But, after watching "Monday Night Football" this week and seeing the Saints' newest cornerback, Mike McKenzie, playing like his hair was on fire, clearly the "no one out there" line of the Ravens was wrong. Did the Ravens just overlook McKenzie or is their "no one out there" response shorthand for "we think that there's no one out there, so we're not even bothering to look"? McKenzie didn't sign with the Saints until Nov. 23, and Fabian Washington was lost for the season on Nov. 22, so McKenzie was indeed "out there" when the Ravens could have used him (and still could). Did the Ravens fumble this one, or did they consider McKenzie and reject him for some reason?

Dale Gray

Glen Arm

HEY, DALE: : The Ravens weren't the only ones who bypassed McKenzie. The veteran cornerback hadn't had a tryout with a team since July. And teams are always looking to improve at that position. The Indianapolis Colts lost both of their corners and apparently didn't call McKenzie. Also, let's not hop on the McKenzie bandwagon too quickly. I have always liked McKenzie's aggressiveness, but we should see how he holds up for the rest of the season.

As far as the Ravens' not signing him, this shouldn't surprise anyone. When was the last time the Ravens signed a veteran in the middle of the season who went on to make a significant impact? Good or bad, that's just not the Ravens' style. They drafted Lardarius Webb in the third round for a reason and were confident that he could step into the starting lineup at this point. Team officials also must have felt that Carr was their best option at nickel back. We'll see at the end of the season if the Ravens made the right call.

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