Ravens Insider Q&A column 2.0

OWINGS MILLS -- Our latest deluxe edition of questions and answers regarding the Baltimore Ravens as they rapidly approach training camp in Westminster.

Question: Is Terrell Suggs expected to sign his tender before training camp in 2 weeks? Or might he sit out part or all of it then sign?

Answer: All signs point toward him likely reporting on time or early in training camp since he accomodated the Ravens by showing up for a minicamp he didn't have to attend and the two sides compromised on a hybrid franchise tag tender. However, Suggs' agent, Gary Wichard, is known for orchestrating holdouts as a power play and had a lengthy rookie holdout with Brodrick Bunkley in Philadelphia.

I could see Suggs potentially showing up a few days or a week late, but I would say it's 60-40 that he reports on time with the other veterans and signs his tender. Under NFL guidelines, he can't practice until he signs his tender. However, there's no financial incentive for him to do so since there's no signing bonus. I think he'll definitely want to sign the tender in time to get ready for the season because, just like last year, this is a contract year for him with millions of dollars at stake either in Baltimore or with another NFL team. The Ravens don't seem worried about the Suggs' situation, so I don't think it's any cause for concern at this point.

Question: Aaron, Name me your top long shot to make the Raven roster. Also how many safties do you see the team carrying. Answer: Don't overlook big rookie wide receiver Ernie Wheelwright, a nice red-zone threat out of Minnesota at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, or inside linebacker Jameel McClain. I think both have definite practice squad potential and I could see Wheelwright making the active roster if there are injuries. Other potential sleepers include offensive tackle Joe Reitz for the practice squad, offensive guard Adam Kraus and wide receiver Patrick Carter. None of these guys are a lock obviously. I think they will keep four safeties: Ed Reed, Dawan Landry, Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura. I wouldn't rule out Jim Leonhard making the team, too. He's a tough guy who excels on special teams.

Question: In your opinion what, position wise, are the strongest and weakest areas on the team? What free agents might be on the Ravens' short list for a tryout, precluding unforeseen injuries?

Answer: Strongest position is defensive tackle. Weakest position is either quarterback or offensive tackle. As far as free agents they might want to try out, I don't think there's anyone that's high on their list presently. They will try out several free agents during training camp. I expect some tight ends to be auditioned and I'm sure they'll keep an eye on the waiver wire in Cleveland to see if Darnell Dinkins is on the bubble.

Question: Aaron, I think that the one group that I'm most looking for improvement is the Offensive Line. The general opinion on the subscribers board has been that Foerster was not a good coach, and this led to the dissapointing showing from the players. Others feel that it's been a lack of quality players, and that with Ogden sidelined with his toe injury that there wasn't adequate depth on the team. Looking at the lineup that they are going with, there's a lot of strength in the core and some question marks on the wings. I wonder if you've gotten any sense to the coaching differences that Matsko brings, and whether any of the returning linemen have made any comments about the new line coach?

Answer: Bottom line: There's a ton more respect for John Matsko, a real taskmaster with an old-school approach, than Chris Foerster, who didn't inspire nearly as much loyalty or respect as they seem to have for Matsko. I think Matsko will build toughness and technique in the line. He's a much more accomplished assistant than Foerster, so this is, other than trading Brian Billick for Cam Cameron at offensive coordinator, the biggest upgrade to the coaching staff.

Question: I read where Cam was pleased with the progress of OT Mike Kracalik during the mini camps. Is that just lip service or is there something tangible to that? Has Harbaugh given any clue as to a time frame for naming his starting QB?

Answer: Mike Kracalik actually did improve. His quickness and pass-blocking technique are much better, but he's still not above average at any trait scouts look for in an NFL offensive tackle other than size and strength. He is a project player who's beginning to develop into a solid backup. He's not nearly as bad as he used to be. As far as the time table on naming a starting quarterback, John Harbaugh hasn't said when he'll make up his mind. I expect that announcement to go one of two ways. They'll either announce it after the third preseason game or it will stretch into the days leading up to the practices for the season opener. I think Harbs is the type to make a decision and won't keep it a secret. At this point, I expect it to be Troy Smith barring some regression at camp or rookie Joe Flacco being so impressive that it's impossible to keep him off the field.

Question: Brett Farve is back in the media for the fourth year straight. While signs point to him retiring, Peter King, among others, have stated they will not at all be shocked to see his return. Its pretty apparent that the Packers are ready to move on. Will he be traded? Is there a possibility that Ozzie sees this as a great opportunity to not only win now, but have a great mentor for Flacco?

Answer: I think Green Bay has truly moved on and will face the unenviable task of having to trade or cut Favre. I don't think Ozzie Newsome will entertain this possibility. I could see Favre winding up with the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears or Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins or New York Jets if he's available as a free agent. Obviously, the Packers wouldn't want to trade him within their division. I don't think this would be an Ozzie Newsome type move to essentially rent Favre for one year. This team is more than a quarterback away from making a Super Bowl run, too.

Question: Flacco was a guest on a Farve tribute show for NFLN. Do you know what kind of relationship Flacco may have with Farve? Not a bad mentor in my book.

Answer: They don't really have a relationship. They were just guests on a show together. I don't think they'll be hanging out together per se, so I don't think this will be a mentorship. Joe has spent time around Scott Brunner, a former NY Giants quarterback who helped him prepare for the NFL scouting combine, and has talked with Rich Gannon extensively.

Question: With Freddie Mitchell getting a tryout, I am assuming that we are not fully sold on our current WR crop. Could we make a significant move during preseason for a legit number 1 WR or are we going into the season with this WR group?

Answer: It's true that the coaching staff is not completely sold on these receivers, but they're not displeased to the point where they're looking to dump starters and make significant changes. There was some interest from Harbs in Mitchell, but Ozzie Newsome wasn't convinced it would be an upgrade. There was a strong unconfirmed rumor going around the training complex that Cam Cameron was interested in trading for Roy Williams, but it didn't have a lot of legs. At this point, I see them going into the season with these guys. It should be an improved group simply if Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams remain healthy.

Question: I have never seen a Ravens team that is more stacked with potential special teams players than the current roster. Ayanbadejo, Stills, Barnes, Zbikowski, Nakamura, Gooden, Marcus Smith, Cody, Cousins, Walker, just to name a few. I would think that Jerry Rosburg would be ecstatic with our personnel. Has Jerry Rosburg outlined his expectations for the special teams? How does he feel about the quantity/quality of our current special teamers?

Answer: Jerry Rosburg and John Harbaugh are both extremely enthused about the depth and talent in the kicking game. Would they like a steadier return specialist? Sure. Or a kicker with more distance? Definitely. Or lots of proven special-teams aces like Brendon Ayanbadejo? Of course. However, they really like the assets of the special teams in terms of Ayanbadejo, Gary Stills, Yamon Figurs, the rookies who have shown promise on special teams, steady punter Sam Koch and Matt Stover, one of the most accurate and reliable kickers in league history. Yes, it's safe to say that Jerry Rosburg and Harbs are fired up and it seems like they have good reason to feel that way.

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

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