Aaron Wilson of Ravens Insider helps shed light on the Patriots first preseason opponent.
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Who will guide the Ravens at QB this year, and will that finally solve the quarterback issues of the past?
1. Despite Kyle Boller getting the initial start in a three-way quarterback competition, the opening-game starter figures to be former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith. He has an infectious swagger in the huddle and the mobility to escape pressure. I tend to think that Boller is only starting this game as a nod to his superior experience and tenure. It's not an indicator that he leads the competition, though.
Ray Lewis is another year older, and has lived up to the hype early in his career. Is he slowing down, and what kind of impact does he still have on the defense?
2. Ray Lewis may have lost a step or two, but he still has plenty of speed to burn. The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year remains on top of his game and reported at 255 pounds with six-percent body fat. He can be blocked, though, and has problems with his shoulders.
What's the biggest weakness of the Ravens team, and do you expect the Pats to be able to take advantage of it?
3. The Ravens' offensive line is threadbare with both starting tackles Jared Gaither and Adam Terry sidelined with sprained ankles. It could get hectic for the Ravens' quarterbacks against a formidable Patriots front seven. It could get downright ugly, actually.
How important is it for the Ravens to show they can win early in the season?
4. I don't think it's that big a deal actually. The Ravens are under a new regime and this is regarded privately as a rebuilding year. Ravens coach John Harbaugh will be given plenty of time to turn things around.
Do you think they care about winning this game after what happened last year between these two teams?
5. No, I don't think it matters much to them. Every sane NFL player realizes that preseason football means nothing. The Ravens have fallen into the trap of overrating the importance of a preseason contest. I don't think they will make that mistake this time.