Ravens Insider VIP Q&A column

OWINGS MILLS -- Questions and answers regarding the Baltimore Ravens. Subscribers, please keep reading for further details.

Question: Why is the season taking so long to start?

Answer: Honestly, it just feels that way. A lot has happened since New Year's Eve when Brian Billick was fired. An eventful offseason has an ebb and flow, and recent flurries of activity probably only increase the anticipation. It's going to be a long time until something else happens that actually matters.

Question: Would Ogden be a June 1st cut if he doesn't officially retire by then? will there be any surprise cuts at all?

Answer: My hunch on Jonathan Ogden is he's simply waiting until next month to officially file retirement papers. The same goes for Steve McNair. As far as cutting players, I don't foresee any real vulnerability around here for a while. Not at least until training camp when guys like Dan Cody and Gary Stills could be in some danger.

Question: You mentioned that Cameron was hoping for a great running attack tandem with Willis and Rice as definite possible combinations. With the TE situation being in such flux, how can we finesse that? (assuming "flairs" to the TE was big in the offense from Cameron in the past). Won't teams just stack the box?

Answer: Cam Cameron is an expert at disguising formations and the offense's intentions. He also mixes and matches personnel very well. They can use offensive linemen in some cases to double as a blocking tight end or cross-train a fullback. Question: Also, how is the defense knowing that Rex Ryan is here for another year? [I'd think they are high on life knowing they have an Offensive Coordinator who can put up some points up for a change.]

Answer: I can attest that both developments were met with major enthusiasm in the locker room. It's a nice set of coordinators here. Question: 1. Is there any movement on a contract extension for Jason Brown and how committed are they to keeping Brown?

Answer: They have only had preliminary contract discussions. According to his agent, the Ravens and Jason Brown have both expressed a mutual desire to get something done. I think it will happen.

Question: The Ravens brought in some veteran DB's and drafted some special teams talent this year .

What does this mean for guys like Martin, Pittman and Prude.. Are the Ravens about to cast off those guys and move on?

Answer: It's not a good development for any of those guys. I could see two of them potentially not making it. David Pittman needs to get over this foot injury quickly. Prude's lack of speed hurts him even though he's a smart, tough player. Derrick Martin is fast and tough, but lacks ball skills. Bottom line: The locks to make the team at cornerback are Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle, Fabian Washington, Frank Walker and Corey Ivy.

Question: Troy Smith in a WBAL interview indicated that he's tweaked his throwing motion as a result of working with Cameron/Jackson -- shortened it up a bit, not quite as much over the top. Have you noticed this adjustment? Is he getting the ball out of his hand a little quicker? Any effect on his accuracy or velocity? Answer: I think his release has improved and he seems to be more accurate. He has had some problems with batted balls, but I think he's adjusting to the streamlined motion.

Question: One more thing on Troy -- do you have a sense as to how much the staff values what he can do with his quick feet when the pocket breaks down? Is that kind of playmaking ability highly valued in Cameron's system?

Answer: I think the combination of Troy Smith's ability to escape pressure, his pocker awareness and quickness are valued highly by the new coaching staff. Given that element of his game and the uncertain state of the offensive line, there's a strong chance for him to overtake Kyle Boller and potentially be the guy who keeps the seat warm for Joe Flacco.

Question: Given the obvious emphasis on special teams, what is your guess as to what happens on kick-offs: Stover, Koch (iirc he can do KOs) or specialist?

Answer: They are going to take a long look at Ben Dato and Piotr Czech. However, the favorite to handle kickoffs remains Matt Stover. We haven't had a chance to watch many kickoffs yet from any of the three guys yet.

Question: Given both Kyle Boller's ability to say all the right things in the media, and the fact that he hired another agent seeking a trade; what do you think his reaction will be if in game one he is not number 1 on the depth chart in a contract year?

Answer: Kyle Boller would be disappointed, but he's used to disappoinments. And it wouldn't be the first time Boller has had to deal with something like that. It's the final year of his contract and I don't think he has any illusions about where he stands in the organization. This is his last season in Baltimore, and I think he'll be happy for a fresh start. I don't think, based on his classy history, that he'll make any waves if he's demoted.

Question: What are the opinions thus far, from coaches, on the drafted WRs and UDFA WRs? Are any of them standing out?

Answer: I think Marcus Smith and Justin Harper have separated themselves from the undrafted crop. The only undrafted guy who's eye-catching is big Ernie Wheelwright from Minnesota.

Question: Allen Patrick has been described as a scat back as has PJ Daniels. It seems that Rice is a lock behind McGahee. Who is in the lead for the 3rd and 4th RB slots?

Answer: Pecking order at running back is Willis McGahee, Ray Rice and then Cory Ross or P.J. Daniels. Patrick is more of a special-teams guy than anything else. Excellent punt gunner. The problem with the third back position is Ross is too similar to Rice. And Daniels has been way too injury-prone. Patrick has some upside and is a slasher. I tend to think they'll put him on the practice squad and have to cut one or two of the other backs.

Question: Aaron, which players are you candidates to have breakthrough seasons? Also, how long before we see Flacco under center?

Answer: Antwan Barnes, Willis McGahee, Demetrius Williams, Oniel Cousins. I'm tempted to say within the first four games as far as Joe Flacco's NFL regular-season debut.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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