Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals in Opener
- Updated: September 4, 2014
The Ravens 2013 season and five consecutive playoff games ended with a 34-17 loss to the Bengals and at this point, both Coach Harbaugh and the players want to put last season behind them. Instead, the Ravens want to take the field in 2014 as a new and improved team, ready and willing to win.
For one thing, there have been changes to the Ravens’ coaching staff but also, a few of the veteran players have left and second-year players, as well as rookies are getting more play time. Steve Smith, veteran wide receiver signed on to bring leadership, production, and toughness to the offense, along with Gary Kubiak, the new offensive coordinator.
With changes to both the offense and defense, the Ravens will debut their new team on Sunday, September 7, against their number one rival. Although running back Ray Rice who played well in preseason game four will not be practicing on Tuesday, the rest of the roster should remain intact. Even with things in order, questions hang over the team as preparations to play against the Bengals accelerates.
The Ravens went through a tough summer when two of their young defensive ends, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Brent Urban experienced injuries. In addition, top cornerbacks missed a significant amount of time during preseason play to include Asa Jackson, Jimmy Smith, and Lardarius Webb who was out about a month due to a back injury. However, all three are reported to be back and at 100%.
The Ravens faced several obstacles in 2013 but now, the team has become stronger and healthier. Even players with injuries earlier in the preseason such as Jah Reid and Bernard Pierce, both with concussions, were back in practice as of last week. One question, are Jackson, Smith, and Webb able to play up to speed considering the amount of time missed.
Other players in question include Marlon Brown, who caught only two balls during preseason after having set a team-record in 2013 with seven TD receptions and tight-end Owen Daniels, who was sidelined during much of the preseason yet from 2006 to 2012 averaged 55 catches a season. One huge positive is Joe Flacco, who has uncanny timing, footwork, and ball handling.
Existing challenges are expected to intensify on Sunday against the Bengals but with a strong 53-man roster, the Ravens should be tough competition.