Ravens Insider VIP Q&A

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

Question: With the tag issues settled between the Ravens and Suggs, is there any word on progress towards a long term deal?

Answer: My take on the compromise, which is still to be finalized by the NFL Management Council and the NFL Players Association, is that it was essentially a good-faith gesture on the Ravens' part and a signal that they are extremely determined to get this deal done. The numbers still don't match up, but this is an acknowledgement on the Ravens' part that they are willing to pony up serious cash to retain Suggs. They lost some leverage by doing so. Now, they are banking on some good will and good negotiating from Suggs' agent, Gary Wichard, when he's not busy trying to cash in on Jason Taylor's Dancing with the Stars fame.

Question: Assuming that Suggs is a priority to extended, who are the other priorities amongst guys in contract season and who gets done? Bart Scott, Ray Lewis, Jason Brown?

Answer: Jason Brown is a high priority and they have already had preliminary discussions. No deal is imminent. I think it's an either or situation with Ray Lewis and Bart Scott. And signing one player could result in the other's departure.

Question: Does Xavier Lee have a good chance to make the 53 roster, or is he fighting solely for the practice squad? Thanks for taking my questions. Answer: I think he's strictly practice-squad material. Good athlete with potential down the road as a tight end. Not going to be a quarterback in my opinion, but I'm sure he'll take snaps there, too.

Question: We heard that the Ravens and Flacco's agent were meeting last Friday to talk contract. Any word on the status of those talks?

Answer: It was really not a big deal. All they did was set up dates for future talks. They didn't send me an itinerary of those talks, but this thing is on the fast track. There's a lot of work to be done, because a quarterback deal will likely have escalator clauses and option bonuses built in throughout the deal.

Question: How has Jared Gaither's work ethic and level of production been since starting OTAs and minicamps?

Answer: The Ravens have actually been fairly complimentary of how he has done on the field and his work in general after a very rocky offseason program where his tardiness and absences were notable. They still have some reservations about his maturity, but remain hopeful.

Question: Do the Ravens have a legitimate pass-rushing threat to pressure opposing backfields?

Answer: They have two in Trevor Pryce and Terrell Suggs and hope to develop a third in Antwan Barnes. Getting Bart Scott back in some blitz packages would help the situation, too.

Question: How has the progression of the special teams come since last season, and who is most likely to start as the Ravens KR and PR?

Answer: I think the kick coverage will be significantly improved with the addition of Brendon Ayanbadejo, Tom Zbikowski, Haruki Nakamura and Allen Patrick. In the return game, I'm sure Yamon Figurs will be the punt returner and he may have to share some kick returns with Ray Rice.

Question: What "familiar faces" might Ravens fans not see in purple and black this coming season?

Answer: Gary Stills, Dan Wilcox, Dan Cody are a few that could be in trouble.

Question: Which of the following WRs could make the final roster: Ernie Wheelwright, Marcus Smith, Justin Harper, or Patrick Carter?

Answer: Marcus Smith is the only lock from that group, and I think Justin Harper will make it, too, but not a lock.

Question: If Dan Wilcox is not totally healthy by Sept. 7th, could Xavier Lee, Joe Reitz, or Scott Kuhn see playing time as a backup to Todd Heap?

Answer: Under that scenario, I think they would look outside the organization for free agent cuts unless Lee is the real deal. Of that group, he's the most athletic and natural on routes.

Question: How has Trevor Pryce been looking so far this year in practice? How does Dan Cody figure into the pass rush situation with the emergence of Antwann Barnes?

Answer: Trevor Pryce looks much lighter than he did a year ago, dropping a few pounds. Dan Cody is a potential X-factor as a reserve. However, it's obvious that he needs to be healthy and that's a total long shot that he will be and remain healthy.

Question: Do you think we will be okay with pass rush this year so our CB's wont have to cover receivers forever and a day?

Answer: I think their lack of interior pass rush is an issue, and they need to get Bart Scott back in the blitz package. Antwan Barnes is the biggest potential sleeper in the pass rush. If he emerges as they hope, the cornerbacks could benefit.

Question: Is Edgar Jones just another JAG to steal a phrase from you?

Answer: He's a good athete, but still raw and unpolished. He's a 'tweeer, between defensive end and linebacker. Overall, he's a solid backup.

Question: Who would you say is the front runner for the 3rd RB spot. McGahee and Rice have 1 and 2 locked down, but between Patrick, Ross, and Daniels who has the best shot of at least making the roster and who do you think will be number 3?

Answer: I would say Ross is the best of that group, but is so similar to Rice that may hurt him. Patrick is the best special-teams player. And Daniels has the best size. I would say Ross leads currently.

Question: Does Marcus Smith look like he will earn any playing time? Do the Ravens feel he has more upside since he's a converted RB?

Answer: He'll primarily be a factor on special-teams, but could develop into a nice slot receiver because of his strength and ability to run after the catch.

Question: With all of this CBA talk, where do you think Bisciotti stands in all of this? In other words, is he closer to the mindset of a Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder?

Answer: Bisciotti tends to align more with the old guard on revenue sharing issues than the younger owners. However, keep in mind the Ravens don't make as much outside revenue as the Redskins and Cowboys.

Question: What is your take on the Odell Thurman situation? Would you endorse the Ravens giving him a chance?

Answer: I think Odell Thurman simply ran out of chances in Cincinnati. It's unfortunate that they got rid of him when his grandmother died, but I'm sure there was more absences and he was told beforehand that they had no tolerance for any absences. It might seem cold-hearted, but they gave him a ton of second chances. I think the Ravens don't need him and won't have any interest. The Browns should sign him. They could use a good inside linebacker for their 3-4.

Question: I love what I've seen on Flacco on film and the reports from the minicamp, but I've got one concern about him. His quick 3/4 throwing motion mechanics -- kind of a "quick sling" as I see it -- is great for firing lasers on the deep outs and the curls and for throwing deep, but can he slow his arm down to make the short touch passes where you need to arc the ball in accurately? What were your observations on that during the minicamp? This is an area where Boller really struggled early on, but he's gradually gotten better at it over the years. I'm hoping Flacco's a little more complete in that way right out of the gate. Answer: I think he has a nice, compact motion, but his touch was off on short throws. I think generally he needed to calm down some on his velocity. I'd like to see a few more practices. Keep in mind he adjusted as the minicamp progressed and slowed down his motion on short throws somewhat. I think Flacco is nowhere near as bad as Kyle was in that area as a rookie.

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