Ravens Insider VIP Q&A column

OWINGS MILLS -- Ravens Insider and scout.com NFL expert Adam Caplan answer your burning questions about the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL. Subscribers, please keep reading for further details and insight.

Adam, It is still early yet, but after this past weekend's performances, what strengths and/or weaknesses did you see in the AFCN teams on offense and defense, if any, and with respect to one another, where would you rank them (offense, defense, and overall)?

Adam Caplan: Cincinnati has major problems on offense, specifically their offensive line. And it has affected Carson Palmer because he's starting to perceive pressure that's not there. Baltimore's defense, as I've mentioned before, could be very solid if the two veteran cornerbacks could hold up physically. That showed well in the first game against Bengals.

Offensively, they have to get Willis McGahee back in the lineup. Ray Rice is a complementary back, he's really not a starter and that showed last week.

They also have to get Demetrius Williams healthy and to be a big part of their passing game. He's the only true deep threat they have.

Cleveland's offense will be fine despite a low scoring output last week. Braylon Edwards dropped four passes last week and had a bad game against Dallas. He usually plays at a high level.

It's their defense which could hold the team back this season. They have next to no pass rush and their secondary is very young and inexperienced--that showed last week. They're also getting gashed too much in the running game.

Pittsburgh clearly has one of the league's best offenses. We knew that coming into the season. And the demise of RB Willie Parker was clearly over exaggerated.

Defensively, they aren't dominant as they once were but they're solid. Sunday will be a good test against Cleveland's high-powered offense.

Are the Ravens looking at any other TE's? (if so, whom?) I find it hard to believe that they will just try to "stand pat" with just Wilcox and Heap?

Adam Caplan: Baltimore is one of a few teams that only have two tight ends on the roster. But I agree that you need to have three for insurance purposes. Adam Bergen could be brought back. Once rookie Martin Rucker comes back healthy for the Browns, the Ravens could look to trade for Darnell Dinkins.

Adam...after the Bengals owner took Henry back after Marvin Lewis seemingly objected to it, is there a lot of dissension in the locker room? How PO'd is Coach about having his authority undercut so openly?

Adam Caplan: It doesn't seem to be a big deal for the players, they just want to win. Outside the organization, the move has been ridiculed. But by the looks of things, they really could use Henry to fit in as the third receiver again. Adam: what do we know about the AFCN that we didn't 7 days ago?

Adam Caplan: That Cleveland's defense was this bad. They spent a lot of money in free agency and so far, it hasn't worked.

Adam- Does Rex believe if CMac has a knee flair up, rumored yesterday.... swollen etc, that Fabian Washington can be the next man up? Also, will Walker play the nickel if Ivy/Ankle is out?

Adam Caplan: Washington is out this week so they have to look at other options if McAlister can't play. But the indication is that he'll be able to go. The extra day may help him.

Adam. Ever since Tom Brady when down everbody seems to think the power has shifted in the AFC and the East.. Personally I feel that you have to beat the Pats as a whole and not just Brady.. To me they are still the team to beat.. Am I wrong in thinking that?

Adam Caplan: As long as new starting QB Matt Cassel can move the chains and not turn the ball over, their offense should still be solid. But there's virtually no way he'll be able to play at Brady's level--he's one of the two best players at his position in the NFL.

New England's problems are clearly on defense. They lack a consistent pass rush and they don't have a solid cover cornerback since they decided not to re-sign Asante Samuel.

Aaron, I noticed that Cam seems to be a believer in the phrase "great minds think alike", as I noticed a lot of pre-snap movement (some deliberate, some not so much, and others were false start penalties...), specifically around the line. In addition to the "Boeing 767 backfield", and the "heavy offset" formations, could the receivers be getting into the act more often? (Edit: I did notice Todd going in motion his fair share for what it's worth, too. This is all with the presumption that Cam is trying to make the opposing defense react to one preset play that they presume will be run, but in reality the play that actually will be run is wholly or partly not what was expected -- and they will have to adjust on the fly.) Aaron Wilson: I think they could use the receivers in more motion to catch the defense off-guard, but you have to be cognizant about getting the football snapped and not getting too fancy. He is trying to confuse the defense and keep them from sprinting to the ball immediately because they are anticipating something else.

to Aaron Is Willie Anderson going to start regardless of whether Jared Gaither and Adam Terry continue to play well? What was the staffs impression of Gaither this week?

Currently, they are inclined to stick with Adam Terry as the starter and plan to rotate Willie Anderson in. Willie is trying to work his way back into shape. He looks a little heavy to me. They were very impressed with Gaither's first game and are encouraged currently by his progress.
Upon his return from injury, is Marcus Smith going to see any snaps?

Aaron Wilson: The answer is maybe. He's a good prospect, but didn't exactly set the world on fire in preseason games last month. I was more impressed with him in practice. Eventually, he will contribute, but right now there's no playing time for him.

Aaron: is this time better than we thought a week or so ago, or are Cincy just worse?

Aaron Wilson: The honest answer is it's a little bit of both. How much we'll find out soon when they face quality teams like the Browns.

Aaron- As you alluded to recently, a clear weakness on this team is a powerful WR. Is Smith healing, and furthermore, is he even an option considering we are carrying so many RB's and O'Lineman. It seems when we the Ravens run the stacked tackle or unbalanced line, that there are only two WR's on the field

Aaron Wilson: Marcus Smith said that he is completely healthy now and is practicing, but I doubt he's in the current plans since there are so many receivers ahead of him and they are playing so many linemen. I think he'll get a long look next season or possibly this one if there are injuries outside.

Aaron, With Washington more than likely out who will be our dime back? The more I watch Ivy as nickel the more I like him, he is a scrapy player. When Washington comes back does he become our nickel back?

Aaron Wilson: Yes, Fabian Washington is a lot more talented than Corey Ivy in coverage, so he would be the top nickel back when his neck feels better. The fact that this injury has lingered so long is a bad sign, though.

Aaron How does Cam feel about Flacco calling audibles. Seems he's done it a few times with some success.

Aaron Wilson Aaron Wilson: I think Cam Cameron prefers that Joe Flacco only audible a few times as he learns on the job. At the same time, he wants him to do it enough to help the offense and accelerate his learning process as a young quarterback.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital. Adam Caplan is scout.com's NFL expert and is a host for NFL Sirius Channel.


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