The Ravens had a successful offseason but many questions still loom for the team heading into September. One such question is that of who will fill the role at #2 wide receiver. It's almost unanimous that Torrey Smith will be the #1, but Flacco will need a consistent #2 guy who can produce for him. That, I believe, will come down to Jacoby Jones vs. Deonte Thompson. I'm bullish on Thompson, whose natural speed and athleticism have yet to be truly realized. I would be content with a Smith-Jones-Thompson set, but receivers will need to prove themselves in the coming weeks.
Another looming concern is that of team injuries. Haloti Ngata leads the list with his MCL injury. He played much of the 2012 season and postseason injured. Ngata was a trooper for us last year but the sad reality is that his tough, physical style of play was bound to catch up with him at some point. I hope he gets the rehab and rest he needs so he will be ready for week 1. In addition to Ngata, look for Lardarius Webb to ease back into the roster, and also expect Terrence Cody, Marshal Yanda, and Jameel McClain to take it easy with their respective injuries.
The last issue, and possibly most pressing, is who will emerge as team leader. Rice, Flacco, and Suggs have all hinted at their impending responsibility to lead the squad, but they must live up to replacing the legacy Ray Lewis left behind. The Ravens perform (obviously) much better when there is a central force directing the pack. This transition is harder than it sounds, but I am confident that the aforementioned players have what it takes. I expect there to be at least a couple such leaders on both offense and defense.