Ravens Report Card

QB- Chris Redman started off with a so-so effort against the Panthers, and followed it up with an absolutely awful effort against Tampa Bay. But, the last two games, Redman has really stepped it up and has made a number of plays when they've presented themselves to him.

 He's also shown some real leadership, something sorely missing from the Ravens at this position last year. There's still plenty of room for improvement, but overall the Ravens have to be pleased by his play and development. Grade: B

RB/FB- Given that he was coming off a torn ACL, Jamal Lewis got off to a solid start to the season, even if he did show himself to be a step behind where he was before his injury. Lewis, though, had a breakout game against the Browns this past Sunday, rushing for 187 yards, including a 75 yard run that was an inch or so from being a 95 yard touchdown run. It looks like his speed is back. He's also been carrying a heavy load, 103 touches in 4 games, and so far, seems to be none the worse. The Ravens would still be well advised to involve rookie Chester Taylor more in the offense, to keep Lewis from wearing down in November and December. Fullback Alan Ricard has been mostly solid, although it is a little troubling that the Ravens have struggle so much on short yardage rushing situations when a block by a FB is often the key to getting a first down. Grade: B

WR/TE- Todd Heap has proven to be the biggest weapon in the Ravens passing offense. Brandon Stokley has developed a nice symmetry with Redman, and Jonathan Jones has been a solid second TE complimenting Heap nicely with his blocking prowess. But, beyond Stokley, the WR's have been a big disappointment starting with everyone's favorite whipping boy, Travis Taylor. This was supposed to be the year Taylor stepped up and became the go-to WR for the Ravens, or at least a very dependable one. If anything, Taylor has taken a step back, catching just 9 passes in 4 games, 4 of which came in the last game. Ron Johnson has also been a bit of a disappointment, failing to make a compelling case for more playing time. Grade: D+

OL- Things really changed with the promotion of Ethan Brooks into the RT spot and the move of Edwin Mulitalo back to LG. For the first two games, you'd have to give them a D or an F. For the last two, it would have to be a B+ or an A. There's still been some struggles with pressure up the middle, and Flynn at C doesn't seem to get much of a push. Casey Rabach looked overmatched at LG, but did a fine job filling in for an injured Flynn against the Browns. Bennie Anderson has committed a few too many penalties, and has also shown some struggle with rushes up the middle. Jonathan Ogden has been his usual All-Pro self at LT, and after struggling at RT, Edwin Mulitalo has stepped right into his old spot and provided the Ravens with one of the best left sides of the offensive line in the league. The real surprise has been Ethan Brooks, who handled Pro Bowler Trevor Pryce and solid veteran Kenard Lang in his first two games. If he continues to play like he has, the Ravens may have finally found their answer at RT. Grade: C

DL- Kelly Gregg has played a very scrappy brand of ball. But, he still doesn't have the bulk you need from a NT or DE in a 3-4. Ma'ake Kemoeatu does have the bulk, but probably not the game that Gregg does. It's not a great combination for the Ravens to have, but it's not one that will be solved until the off-season. Both have probably played about as well you could expect. Anthony Weaver has shown a nice quickness and burst off the edge. He looks like a fixture for the Ravens on the DL for many years to come. Veteran Michael McCrary has been rusty at times coming back from his season ending knee injury last year. The Ravens are trying to keep him at a strict limit of 40 snaps a game. As he gets more and more comfortable, he'll again be a factor as a pass rusher. Marquis Douglas and Adalius Thomas have provided solid depth. Grade: C+

LB- Ray Lewis has been the defensive MVP in the league so far, proving that he just may be the best player overall in the league. He's also provided great leadership for the young defense and young team overall. Peter Boulware has made some plays rushing the passer, and in pass defense, but does still seem to be a little rusty from off season surgery. Ed Hartwell has provided a nice compliment to Lewis, and he's really starting to develop into a force on the defense. Cornell Brown has supplanted Shannon Taylor as the starting OLB opposite Boulware, but Brown's strength against the run and Taylor's ability to pass rush make for a good combination. Before the season, I wrote that this was a unit had the potential to be among the very best in the league. It's proven to be that. Grade: A

DB- Chris McAlister, in his contract year, is playing like he wants both his first Pro Bowl appearance and a huge contract. He's almost certain to get the latter and if he keeps playing the way he has the first four games of the season, he'll probably get the former as well. The Ravens are essentially starting 3 rookies with McAlister in the secondary and because of that they've played a lot of two deep zone to protect their young safeties, Ed Reed and Will Demps. There's been times when that zone's been too soft and opponents have been able to get big plays down the seam. Still, both Demps and Reed have shown a real knack for finding the ball and making plays. Gary Baxter has shown nice physical play from the other CB spot, and while he figures he get picked on a lot, he's shown he'll at least make opposing WR's pay for catching the ball. James Trapp, when healthy and Chad Williams, another rookie provide some solid depth. This is a young group that will make its fair share

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