AFC North: Jim Leonard
Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker
Three quick hits on the Baltimore Ravens:
1. Although it’s just the preseason, the Ravens allowed an average of just 9.75 points in four preseason games. Not only is that a testament to the starters, but it’s also a statement of the depth the Ravens have on defense this year as backups received a lot of playing time in the preseason. Baltimore lost several key people this offseason such as linebacker Bart Scott, safety Jim Leonard and defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, who all went to the New York Jets. But the Ravens still look solid defensively and appear ready for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
2. Starting quarterback Joe Flacco looks like the real deal. He had a great preseason, completing 40 of 61 passes (65.6 percent) for 470 yards and one touchdown in limited playing time. Flacco is looking to avoid the sophomore slump, and it’s so far so good. Even without the team giving him any significant upgrades at receiver, the offense has a good chance to take the next step with Flacco continuing his upward ascension.
3. If you’re looking for a breakout player with the Ravens, look no further than defensive lineman Haloti Ngata. He’s generated a nice buzz in Baltimore for several years. But his name isn’t known nationally on a league-wide scale just yet. Ngata is big enough and strong enough to dominate the point of attack and surprisingly nimble to drop in pass coverage. Many in Baltimore believe Ngata’s fourth season could be a Pro Bowl year.