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Ravens need a leader to step up this season

With the Ravens missing Ray Lewis and Ed Reed's leadership in the locker room a year ago, the team needs someone — or some guys — to step up and assert themselves in that role this year.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

By just looking at the way the 2013 Baltimore Ravens roster was structured, the front office and head coach John Harbaugh added "their guys" and made sure everyone else checked their ego at the door prior to training camp.

Any member of the Ravens 53-man roster likely fell into one of these three categories:

  1. Rookie or inexperienced player scared their NFL dream could end at any minute.
  2. Veteran player that plays by the rules and doesn't disobey authority
  3. Terrell Suggs — Neither of the above but there's no way they were getting rid of him.
An 8-8 record was disappointing enough and many fans blamed a lack of leadership in the locker room. Sure, leadership wasn't questioned for more than a decade with legends like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in the building but the sudden collapse after hoisting the Lombardi Trophy a year prior was alarming to some.

Add in five arrests over the offseason and some fans are even bringing up the topic of leadership the first snap of training camp.

Personally, I believe that all players are grown men and responsible enough to make their own decisions. Lewis or Harbaugh can't be in 53 places at once and it's not their job to babysit or act like father-figures off the field to those on the Ravens' payroll.

However, if anything is evident it's that Harbaugh can't be the sole governing body as he was last season because the team simply didn't respond. The Ravens need a voice amongst the players and someone whom is respected, has NFL tenure and their "piss is hot" as former defensive tackle Arthur Jones use to say.

As long as Suggs is on a roster, there's no way to keep him quiet. He'll undoubtedly always be a voice, whether anyone likes it or not. The biggest addition I believe the Ravens have made this year will not only contribute on the field, but he's the perfect person to place into that role.

Steve Smith has the tenure, he surely has the respect and just ask any cornerback that has covered him what the temperature of his urine is. While I certainly don't expect Smith to babysit his new teammates off of the field, it's important for certain figures to set the tone early in the locker room and I'd expect Smith to be the leader of that pack.

For the next seven weeks until the games matter, football and living out of a hotel room will be the lives of most of the 90 players invited to training camp. While I certainly expect them to stay out of trouble, no time is better than now to not only bond as a team, but mature as a team as well.

Smith is everything the Ravens could have wanted both on and off the field and his addition to this team will likely pay major dividends even before the first snap of the regular season.