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Friday, August 14, 2009
AFC North mailbag: Ravens

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Let's see what's on the mind of Baltimore Ravens fans this week.

Mark from Baltimore, Md. wants to know what to expect from Cam Cameron in his second year of Baltimore's offensive coordinator.

James Walker: The two biggest changes this year will be more responsibility on the shoulders of second-year quarterback Joe Flacco and more carries going to the tailbacks Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. It's time to take the kid's gloves off Flacco now that he's no longer a rookie, so look for the team to take some more chances downfield in the passing game. Also, giving the ball more to Rice and McGahee and less to Le'Ron McClain could make for longer gains. The next step in Baltimore's evolution offensively is to have more explosive offensive plays this year. The Ravens are by no means aiming to be the New England Patriots, but several more running plays of 20-plus yards or more and passing plays of 40-plus yards would make for a more balanced team.


Austin from Charleston, SC writes: James, have you heard anything on the injury to Marcus Smith? The Ravens cannot afford to lose any more WRs!

James Walker: Smith's knee injury Thursday night could be significant, Austin. He is due to take an MRI today to determine whether he damaged his ACL or MCL. Either injury would sideline him for an extended period. The Ravens will probably have a more definitive word on Smith in the next day or so.


John from Baltimore, Md. writes: Why do Steelers fans think Troy Polamalu is so much better then Ed Reed? I don't see how you can dispute Reed's talent and stats as anything else but the number one safety in the NFL.

James Walker: Why do AFC North readers insist on starting this debate every week? Remember everyone: "Troy Reed."


Dylan Blackburn from Jonesboro, IN writes: James, what exactly do the Ravens have to do to get some respect around here? Check out the power rankings, go ahead. Tenth, that is ridiculous. The Titans are ranked above them, and they pounded them in the playoffs!

James Walker: I guess it's never too early to play the disrespect card. I agree that the Ravens always have to prove themselves in the eyes of the national media for one reason or another. But as for the power rankings, ESPN.com streamlined the process this year and I am no longer participating this season. So I would encourage readers to express their praise or displeasure with the appropriate voters in John Clayton, Jeffri Chadiha, Paul Kuharsky and Mike Sando in the future.


G from Baltimore, Md. writes: At the risk of sounding like a homer (which I am), I have to take issue with your comment in August 9th's Morning Take about the Ravens offense having to step up because of several losses on the defensive side of the ball.

James Walker: I've received several e-mails from disgruntled Ravens fans about that comment. So let me set the record straight. Here was my statement: "With several losses on the defensive side, there is a chance Baltimore's D will not finish No. 2 in the NFL like it did last season." It doesn't mean the Ravens can't finish in the top three defensively. It doesn't mean they can't finish in the top five or six like it has for most of this decade. But there are several reasons to believe Baltimore's defense won't be No. 2 or better this season because of some of the new players and a new coordinator (Greg Mattison) in transition. In fact, if Baltimore finishes No. 1 or No. 2 in defense this year, I'm sure all the Ravens fans will let me know about it. If they finish No. 3 or lower, I might do the same.