Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Ravens Will Take Flight

If the Baltimore Ravens are going to reach their goal this season of making the Super Bowl in Dallas, they know their passing attack will have to be better than the past. Third-year quarterback Joe Flacco will have to continue to grow under offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s offense, and the proverbial “next-step” must be taken.

With the additions of Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth, it appears Flacco is ready to take that step.

“Anquan is a guy that can just…You can put the ball anywhere around him, and he’s going to come to it strong and go get it for you,” Flacco said. “[Boldin] knows football. So, when he goes out there and takes the field, he understands what we’re trying to accomplish each play, and he’s really helped out the rest of our guys.”

Head coach John Harbaugh also likes what he sees from Boldin.

“Well, so far in camp he’s brought us a lot of first downs, so we like that,” Harbaugh said. “But, the intangibles…[Boldin]’s a hard worker, he’s a positive guy, he’s really pushing the envelope with our guys so far as teaching them the game along with our coaches. I think that’s been a big help. So, it’s good to have that veteran presence along with Derrick [Mason], so he’s done a great job.”

Asked if Boldin has position flexibility on the field, Harbaugh joked about Boldin’s high school exploits in Florida.

“Oh yeah, he can play anywhere. He can play quarterback-high school, right? So, he can do it all. But yeah, he’ll play all the positions at wide receiver.”

Boldin will join Derrick Mason as the two starters, while Stallworth and fifth-year receiver Mark Clayton will fight for the slot position.

The Ravens have been lining up in more and more three and four receiver sets this camp, and having the new receivers and running back Ray Rice as a receiver out of the backfield only makes the attack more potent. The wide sets will also allow more running room for Ray Rice between the tackles.

The Ravens have also added new tight ends to the mix through the draft. They will still rely on veteran Todd Heap, but his workload will be made easier by the presences of Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. Flacco already likes the smooth, athletic abilities of the tight ends in camp.

“We’ve got some athletic guys out there,” says Flacco. “Todd [Heap], Dennis [Pitta], Ed [Dickson]. They’re all doing a great job. They bring a lot to the table. They’re good athletes that can really catch the ball and run routes. So, they’re going to open up a lot of things for us this year, and it should be exciting to see their progression and them getting better each game.”

The Ravens will undoubtedly look to continue their offensive resurgence this season. With their defense missing key cornerbacks for an extended period of time, their offense will need to put up more points per game.

Does Flacco think he’s ready to take the next step in year three?

“It’s me and Ray [Rice]’s---it’s both of our third years-and we’re just more and more confident. We know each other better, and I’m more confident with everybody in the huddle and just understand all of our players better. So it’s easy to get in the huddle and get out there, and you know which guys are going to have questions on certain plays, and it’s just easy to answer them right away. But I think everybody is just getting more and more used to playing with each other, and it’ll show out on the field.”