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Late For Work 6/29: Absent Ed Reed Leaves Hole In Defense

Plus Bulger never got the credit he deserved and the Ravens’ defensive line is ranked No. 2.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 at 8:55 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison
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Absent Ed Reed Leaves Hole In Defense

Remember how nice it was not having to account for Steelers injured safety Troy Polamalu last season when the Ravens went head-to-head with their most-hated rival?

Most won’t remember who his backup was. It didn’t matter either; few players have Polamalu’s elite status.

But Ravens safety Ed Reed is one of the elite (maybe more so than Troy), and No. 20 himself questioned his return for the season-opener and possibly more games after that – a fact that Ravens 2010 opponents will try to exploit.

Matt Bowen of The National Football Post believes the Ravens’ defense won’t have its typical impact if Reed misses an extended period of time or doesn’t return as his usual self.

“Lose one elite player and the defense doesn’t play or produce in the same way,” Bowen said. “The turnovers were down on the Steelers defense last season [without Polamalu], and we saw a unit that couldn’t close out games. Unusual when we talk about a Pittsburgh defense.”

“In Baltimore, the effect would be the same if Reed has to miss an extended period of time in 2010 while he rehabs — or isn’t the same player when he does finally return to live action.”

Translation: Send your “Get Well Soon” cards ASAP.

Regardless of the team, you don’t just replace an elite athlete like Reed. He’s a player that other safeties want to emulate and offenses want to avoid.

Ravens brass has done most everything possible this offseason to minimize any possible damage, but Bowen wonders if there is room for concern.

“Baltimore has made some big moves this offseason and is a team that is on everyone’s radar when we talk about favorites to win the AFC,” Bowen said.

“But when an elite player says it is a year-long process to return to full health after surgery, we have to question his status for the regular season — and the impact that could be lost.”

“It’s A Shame” Bulger Never Got Deserved Credit

If you know little about Ravens newest quarterback Marc Bulger, here’s an interesting take from a St. Louis reporter that watched the nine-year veteran for years.

STLtoday.com’s Bryan Burwell explained why it was a shame that Bulger never got the credit he deserved as a good quarterback who was stuck in a bad situation.

“Most rational people could see that [then head coach Mike] Martz was on to something with the kid,” Burwell said. “But rational people were in the minority when it came to Bulger, and that’s a shame.

“He was a very good NFL quarterback until he suffered the same fate as Warner — taking too many mind-numbing, body-crunching hits in a Martz offense that placed a premium on leaving the QB unprotected in order to cash in on big-play opportunities. … He was stuck in an organization on the decline, and that wasn’t his fault.”

Ravens D-Line Ranked No. 2

Yahoo!Sports.com’s Jason Cole ranked the Ravens defensive line as the second-best among all 32 NFL teams.

“Ranking 3-4 teams really high is tough because those fronts generally don’t produce a lot of the pass rush,” Cole said. “Rather, they set the table for the linebackers. That’s still the case with the Ravens, but they manage to milk enough pass rush from aging Trevor Pryce at one end spot.

“However, the true greatness of the Ravens’ line lies in their malevolence, led by right end Haloti Ngata. Simply put, Ngata can’t be blocked by mere mortals. He is not a product of the human species. He is really a creation of a building contractor, made of cinderblocks and some type of flesh-like covering. Throw in Kelly Gregg at nose tackle and behemoth rookie Terrence Cody and you have something truly frightening.”

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