BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 11: Paul Kruger #99 of the Baltimore Ravens rouses the crowd during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Steelers 35-7. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
With Terrell Suggs out until November (and possibly later) and the departure of Jarret Johnson, Paul Kruger is almost guaranteed to see a dramatic increase in playing time. And with this increase in playing time, the question that most Ravens' fanatics are asking themselves is, "Is Paul Kruger ready to be a starter for the Baltimore Ravens?".
The former second-round pick has seen limited playing time at OLB and DE during his tenure with the Ravens. In his limited time on the field, however, he seems to always be making an impact. Whether it be picking off an interception in overtime to help win a game, excelling in pressuring the QB in pass-rushing situations, or helping blow-up the line of scrimmage, Kruger always seems to be near the ball or affecting the play in some sort of form.
But there's a big difference from being a specialty player in a few formations, and being a full-time starter. Not to say he hasn't had plenty of time to learn since 2009, but one cannot simply step on the field and expect to replace a 9-year veteran without a few growing pains along the way.
(More after the "Jump"...)
I think the biggest difference we'll see between the Paul Kruger and Jarret Johnson is their style of play. While Jarret Johnson is arguable the best in the NFL at setting the edge and assisting on a tackle, Paul Kruger is more of a pass-rusher and big hitter; almost an exact opposite (the one area where Kruger far outweighs Johnson, however, is his speed; a 4.73 40-time) . Opposite, in this case, might not exactly mean worse (contrary to popular media belief).
Both players have their own skill-sets, and both have their weaknesses. I think the thing that most Ravens' fans are pondering is whether or not Paul will be able to take the steps to become a more all-around player. The two main things that Paul will need to improve on this offseason, ironically enough, are what we lost in Jarret Johnson; the ability to set the edge and stuff the run.
I think if Paul can improve upon these areas, he will be a solid player in no time! With a long offseason and a preseason, he will have plenty of time between now and then to ready himself for the huge shoes he has to fill.