Ravens Insider VIP Q&A

OWINGS MILLS -- Questions and answers with Ravens Insider publisher Aaron Wilson in our latest deluxe VIP column

Question: How do you see the secondary looking this year or more specifically being ready the start of the season? We seem to have a lot of injuries with CMac, Rolle and Reed all missing time. Should we be concerned with any of them specifically not being ready for the Bengals game 1?

Answer: I think it all hinges on the health of the three standouts mentioned above. In my opinion, barring setbacks, McAlister and Reed are going to be available for the Bengals game. I am extremely skeptical about Ed Reed due to his nerve problems that affect his left shoulder and neck. Of course, McAlister's right knee is problematic and could linger. I would be somewhat concerned about these guys. That said, Fabian Washington is a quality nickel back who could step in if someone goes down. I like the three backup safeties: Jim Leonhard, Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura.

Question: There were a fair number of fights during camp. Is there any lingering animosity among the combatants, or is it "it's all good...boys will be boys"?

Amswer: The fights don't linger actually. The guys laugh about them later on during film sessions. Jarret Johnson told me that he starts fights to break up the monotony.

Question: What's the status of Demetrius Williams? (an Achilles injury can be pretty bad) Will he be back any time soon?

Answer: It has lingered a while, but he may return as soon as the next seven to 10 days. I would be slightly concerned because it has taken so long and has still not passed his physical.

Question: Where do you see the staff putting Adam Terry now that he's returned to practice while Gaither is still out of action? Do you think it would be more prudent to simply keep Terry at left tackle since he's more comfortable there, even when Gaither returns? Since Gaither is raw and has missed so many key reps in the preseason, this might be a lost season for him as far as being the starting left tackle.

Answer: Adam Terry was installed at right tackle again with Mike Kracalik moving to the second team and Chad Slaughter continuing to fill in for Jared Gaither at left tackle. I think they should establish Terry on the right side at this point. They also have the option of Slaughter and Mike Kracalik on the left side.

Question: Todd Heap has missed 32% of the Ravens games over the past four years. He ended last year injured, as did Wilcox. Quinn Stepnewski was injured and out for the year in earlty OTA's...... What in the hell is this front office seeing that I am not with regard to properly brininging in NFL quality talent to help Cam's offense tick. This is further mindblowing when our two tackles are inexperienced and unproven.

Answer: I think it's getting to be time for a new tight end within the next year or two. As far as the tackle situation, there really is nothing out there to upgrade this situation other than the guys on the roster getting healthy and learning how to play. Over the next offseason, I expect a lot of emphasis on boosting this offense considering this is likely to be a lost season on offense.

Question: Aaron, When I look at the roster the last two spots in my mind come down to: Slaughter, Stills, Cody, Pittman, Bergmen and Harper. Assuming we keep 3 TEs, I would go with Bergmen and Cody. I hate to give up on Cody. I would keep Pittman over Walker. What do you think?

Answer: They probably need to keep Slaugher and Bergen and cut Dan Cody and David Pittman, or IR one or both of them. I understand what you're saying about Frank Walker, but Pittman isn't even ahead of Derrick Martin for the sixth cornerback spot. I would also think about stashing some guys on PUP to buy some time. There really can't be room for Stills, not this time.

Question: In Philly where John Harbaugh is coming from players over 31 are normally not given extensions and are released some come back at a lower price and some fade away.

Will Harbaugh have a say in this process and do the Ravens scope four and five year plans like alot of teams or do evaluate and react to the team needs for the upcoming season. Lewis Mcallister Rolle would all be history in the Philly way..

Answer: Harbaugh is likely to institute a youth movement over the next year or two. As far as doing things the way Joe Banner does in Philadelphia, that isn't really up to Harbs. It's up to Ozzie Newsome, and I don't see Pat Moriarty and him changing much at this stage of their NFL careers.

Question: Any thoughts on the speculation that McGahee comight be cut before the season is over - sounds a little over the top to me. thanks

Answer: They are angry at him, but cutting him is premature and not cap-healthy, either. Might he be off the team by next year? Maybe, but it will be up to Ozzie Newsome, not Harbs entirely.

Question: Which starters are projected to miss the season opener, specifically due to injury? Also, what plans do the Ravens have, if any, on signing any receivers between Aug. 30th and Sept. 7th?

Answer: Potential starters who could miss the opener: Willis McGahee, Ed Reed, Jared Gaither. I think Kelly Gregg is on track to return in time. They aren't really looking to sign anybody. They just cut wideout Kerry Reed.

Question: If Reed does indeed miss the opener which of the three available safeties do you feel would be called upon to help fill the void? Or do you think the coaches will rotate them depending on the situation? For example using Zbikowski on obvious running plays etc.

Answer: I think Jim Leonhard would start because he has started the first two preseason games. I think he'll get help from Zbikowski on occasion as well as Nakamura. More of a committee deal with Leonhard leading the way.

Question: Also who do you feel has the better upside between Zbikowski and Nakamura? Not so much to make an impact this season but the more productive player in the long run.

Answer: I think Zbikowski has more upside, but Nakamura has better instincts and quickness. Zbikowski is bigger, stronger and a better blitzer. Long-term, it's a tough call. Will Zbikowski's pass coverage catch up with Nakamura? Or will Nakamura emerge as a big hitter and blitzer despite his lack of ideal size and strength? He's a very good tackler, but he's not very big.

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


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