Five questions to ponder

FIVE QUESTIONS TO PONDER 1. Will incumbent quarterback Chris Redman retain his job after back surgery or be supplanted by rookie Kyle Boller? Obviously, Redman has the initial advantage based upon his understanding of the offense and his experience. Yet, he still has to prove he can absorb contact to his surgically-repaired back and not wear down in training camp and preseason contests. Redman appears to be much more athletic and is delivering a tighter spiral now.

Although he'll become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and Boller is a first-round selection and the club's quarterback of the future, the coaching staff raved about Redman's work in minicamps. He has demonstrated no signs of relaxing and relinquishing his status.

Boller is a gifted prospect who showed off the fastball and mobility that elevated his standing before the draft. His accuracy remains an issue that will have to be dealt with along with his ability to get acclimated to an intricate offense in order to overtake Redman.

2. How will a revamped secondary be configured with so many starting candidates and players able to shift between safety and cornerback?

The Ravens have been experimenting with their defensive backs ever since signing veteran Corey Fuller. Fuller is resistant to moving to free safety and is probably best suited to cornerback.

Gary Baxter, who had his moments in his first year as a starting corner, has the size, speed and range to be effective opposite standout strong safety Ed Reed. Baxter played safety for the final two minicamps and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan promises to not drag out this choice.

It's possible that the experience factor at safety that includes Will Demps, Chad Williams and Anthony Mitchell and the oft-injured condition of nickel back possibility Tom Knight may leave this situation in limbo longer than originally anticipated.

Regardless, this is a much more formidable unit than a year ago when franchise player Chris McAlister was the lone returning starter.

3. Will the Ravens generate much more of a consistent pass rush with the addition of rookie outside linebacker Terrell Suggs working in tandem with Pro Bowl selection Peter Boulware?

A year ago, opposing quarterbacks seemingly had an eternity to go through their reads in the safe confines of the pocket. The Ravens totaled just 33 sacks as Boulware led the club with seven as end Michael McCrary's chronic knee condition kept him out of action and will lead to his eventual retirement.

Now, the Ravens hope they have an influx of moves and quickness off the edge in Suggs, who set an NCAA mark with 24 sacks a year ago at Arizona State.

Suggs was a college defensive end who is attempting to drop 10-15 pounds to play outside linebacker. His conditioning is a major component of his transition. If he's in optimum condition it should alleviate the double-team blocking attention that Boulware commanded last fall.

Also, an undersized, scrappy front three will look to collapse the pocket by sending waves of linemen after the game as defensive line coach Rex Ryan utilizes a liberal substitution pattern.

4. What will intimidating right offensive tackle Orlando "Zeus" Brown's adjustment be like to live contact and speed rushers after a two-year hiatus due to a career-threatening eye injury?

Brown's nasty reputation is legitimate as he tangled with defensive end Anthony Weaver in one offseason workout. He's also a much more nimble, streamlined 6-foot-7, 350-pound athlete.

Ideally, Brown will be a steamrolling presence at the line of scrimmage. His game can't be based solely on brawling, though. His technique has to be sound, too. And Brown hasn't encountered complicated line stunts that will test his peripheral vision since an official's penalty flag struck his eye and led to his release from the Browns and a lucrative settlement of a lawsuit filed against the league.

5. Has the Ravens' depth chart improved to the point where personnel choices are going to include the release of reliable veterans and promising rookies?

Last season, there were precious few surprises to the Ravens' cuts after paring down the Super Bowl roster to accommodate an unwieldy salary cap. Now, competitions loom for spots at tight end, defensive line, defensive back, receiver and special teams. This should add intrigue to training camp in Westminster.

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