Just like last season the Baltimore Ravens will be counting on young, inexperienced players to take the place of some established veterans that left in free agency.
The core of the team is very strong as the Ravens always make sure to keep the players they wish to build around. However, those guys can not be great without a supporting cast that knows how to play Ravens. The team will need it's young players to step in and know where they are supposed to be on every play so Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco and company can concentrate on doing their own jobs instead of worrying about where the guys around them will be.
After the jump are three players that will be asked to step up their roles extensively in 2012. Our season may greatly depend on the production we get from them.
Allen came from a triple option offense in college and has yet to see any real time in a real NFL offense. At this point Allen is listed as the Ravens number two running back for 2012. If things stay the same he could carry the ball up to 100 times this season. A far cry from the three carries he logged last year.
Allen is a strong runner who could turn out to be a great compliment to Ray Rice if he can learn all the subtleties of the game at the NFL level. He will need to become a better pass blocker and perhaps the biggest thing is, he will need to become fast friends with number 44. Just follow Vonta Leach and he will lead you to greatness. Ray Rice learned that last year.
The Ravens may choose to bring in a veteran back with NFL experience if they do not see what they like from Allen early on. I think it would be a wise move to do so no matter what. If Rice goes down I am not confident that Anthony could carry the load of a full time NFL starting running back this season. Perhaps a player like Ronnie Brown that could be had at a reduced rate as the season approaches. If Allen turns out to be a stud the ravens could choose to release that player or keep him as insurance against injury
Gorrer had a stand out season in 2011 in limited playing time. When called upon he played above all expectations. I'm sure that when he signed on with the Ravens he had no idea that just a few weeks later he would be on the field with the starters covering Santonio Holmes on Sunday Night Football.
The three starting corner back spots are solidified for the Ravens with Cary Williams, Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith but Gorrer has to have the edge as the dime back. He will definitely see a lot of playing time in 2012 as the NFL continues to morph into more of a pass happy league.
It is huge for Baltimore to have this much quality depth in the secondary. With the promise shown by Gorrer last season he could easily be competing for a starting job on many other teams. Webb is fast becoming an elite corner and Jimmy Smith has all the tools to be shutdown as well. If Gorrer continues to impress he could actually challenge Cary Williams for playing time down the road and give the Ravens quite a formidable secondary.
Jones may be the guy to see the largest increase in playing time this season. Paul Kruger is the leading candidate to replace Jarret Johnson and it is thought that Jones and second year player Pernell McPhee will split the playing time that used to go to Cory Redding. Redding was capable of being a dominant run defender and pass rusher at times but those duties may be split in his absence.
The assumption is that Jones will be used on early downs as a run stuffer and McPhee will enter the game in obvious passing situations to put pressure on the quarterback.
Arthur Jones has stayed in tremendous shape over the past two seasons due to his brothers MMA training regimen that he has since adopted. Let's hope that this translates well onto the field because two of the Ravens better run defenders in Redding and Johnson are now playing elsewhere. Arthur Jones could be a huge part of our defense this season if he can show the ability to stop the run. A defensive line featuring Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody and Arthur Jones sure does look good on paper but only time will tell if these three behemoths can effectively work together.