As usual the Baltimore Ravens are in the middle of an off season full of questions. This year the team has, again, suffered from a purge of veteran players due to the, ever exciting, NFL salary cap situation. However, much to the credit of the Ravens front office, there is, once again, reason for hope in Ravens Nation.
As quickly as the Super Bowl winning 2012 Baltimore Ravens team began dispersing in the off season, the front office began restructuring, what they believe, is another Super Bowl worthy squad. They lost Ray Lewis and Matt Birk to retirement, Paul Kruger to the Browns, Cary Williams to the Eagles, Ed Reed to the Texans and Dannell Ellerbe to the Dolphins. They traded Anquan Boldin to the 49ers and cut Bernard Pollard who promptly headed for the Titans.
However, There is, surprisingly, a lot to be excited about in 2013. Baltimore replaced Reed and Pollard with highly touted rookie Matt Elam and versatile, play-maker Michael Huff. The Ravens actually rebuilt their porous defensive line from last season adding rookie Brandon Williams and veterans Marcus Spears and Chris Canty. They upgraded over Paul Kruger with Elvis Dumervil and will have a healthy Lardarius Webb returning to replace Cary Williams.
Not to mention the fact that Ozzie Newsome and company turned in another stellar draft in which they filled holes and added versatile players on offense and defense that will keep the team in trend with the ever changing landscape of today's NFL.
Tomorrow the first Organized Team Activities will start and there will be plenty of action as battles will be fought all over the field for starting positions and playing time. The third receiver battle will be a good one as the Ravens are stocked with young talent at that position. It will also be interesting to see how this new defense works together. There are still some key pieces from the dominant defenses of the past decade but this will be a new group any way you slice it.
Where does the team stand at the center position? Is Gino Gradkowski the odds on favorite to get the job or is it now anyone's to win? I'm looking for big things from the offensive line this year but center is the one question mark in my book. Hopefully one of these guys shows the job is his hands down.