Mailbag: Who’s Starting At CB?

Mike Duffy addresses several issues with the Ravens’ cornerback situation and more.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Friday, September 3rd, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

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Now that the Ravens have finished their preseason, there might be even more questions about this team heading into the regular-season opener against the New York Jets.

The Ravens still have to make their final roster cut by Saturday, and there is a full week of practices before they hit New Meadowlands Stadium.

So, without boring you with any more setup, here’s some insight to some of the hot-button issues on the minds of Ravens fans.

Ash Cyress : If Wilson, the new CB, will be playing the nickel position, who will man Spot 1 & 2, respectively, come opening day? Also, how will this affect our CB positions comes 2011 when Foxworth comes back?

Duffy: Hey Ash. Josh Wilson will likely be eased onto the field as he learns a brand new defense. He’ll see time against the Jets, but I’m not expecting him to start just because the terminology is like learning a foreign language at this point.  Wilson first needs to get over his considerable jet lag after traveling from Seattle to Baltimore to St. Louis and back to Charm City.

Now, I think that means Fabian Washington and Chris Carr start against the Jets, with Wilson being worked in during three-receiver sets.  Then, Carr moves to the nickel.  But don’t rule out a Wilson start as the season progresses.  The Ravens are hoping Lardarius Webb can make a full recovery, but that’s no guarantee.

As far as 2011, that will be very interesting, because Washington and Carr’s contracts expire after this season, making them unrestricted free agents. Oh yeah, and Wilson will be a UFA next year, too.  Let’s just say this season is going to be one long audition.

Lyle Mallette: Why did the Seahawks give up a starting CB for only a conditional 5th round pick?

Duffy: That was interesting to me too, Lyle.  Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll basically explained the move by noting how Marcus Trufant and Kelly Jennings, along with surprising second-year man Walter Thurmond, made Wilson expendable.

It’s no secret that Carroll is trying to put his stamp on Seattle, and that means clearing out players who aren’t dubbed “his guys.” I’m surprised that it only took a conditional draft pick, reported to be worth a fourth-rounder if Wilson meets some conditions.  He can play both corner and nickel, brings stellar return ability, and is only 25 years old. In addition, I’ll tell you that I received an email from a Seahawks official telling me how much I’ll enjoy working with Wilson, because he’s truly a great locker room and community guy.

@Odie24: The team seems ready and poised for the reg season. What do they still need to work on in your opinion?

Duffy: I do think this is the deepest Ravens team I’ve seen in my five years with the organization, but if I had to pick one area of improvement, I’d say offensive line depth.  The Ravens’ front wall had trouble with the Rams’ pass rushers, and not just the starters. St. Louis was getting penetration into the backfield in the third and fourth quarters, when all backups were in.

The Ravens have a solid starting lineup along their offensive line – whether that is with Jared Gaither, Oniel Cousins or Tony Moll at right tackle. Should an injury fell one of the first-teamers, the Ravens could have some troubles protecting their quarterbacks.

Zach White: Who’s going to be returning kicks this year for the Ravens?

Duffy: I’m betting on Prince Miller for punts and Jalen Parmele for kickoffs.  Wilson could eventually work in the kickoff return mix, but that’s not likely right off the bat.

I know some people will say that Miller doesn’t deserve the job because he muffed that punt into the end zone against the Rams.  I understand that. But, the Ravens are going to look at his entire body of work, not just one game. If anything, Miller put together a solid preseason.  I called him “slippery” after the Rams game, because he’s got the innate ability to make people miss.

Larry Gaigler: With Stallworth being out, and assuming our 1, 2, and 3 receivers will be Boldin, Mason, and Clayton, who now has the edge for that 4th spot? And who can stretch the field at near the level that Stallworth can?

Duffy: That’s a tough one, and obviously, we’ll find out Saturday with the final cuts. If I had to handicap it, I’d say that Marcus Smith has a roster spot because of his special teams contributions, but he might not get on the field as a fourth wideout.  David Reed makes a strong argument as a draft pick, but he still has a long way to go as far as getting on the same page with his signal callers.  Justin Harper has had a solid offseason, but he needed to be more consistent.

That’s why I think Demetrius Williams has a great shot to be the Ravens’ No. 4.  He was healthy in the preseason finale and played well on 90210 day at the Edward Jones Dome, finishing with two grabs for 38 yards.  The former fourth-round draft pick’s familiarity with Joe Flacco is a big check mark in his box.

James Baraloto : I recently started a Twitter account so I could follow the Ravens. I’ve found some players, but I know there are a lot of fakes out there. Would you be able to make a list of the Ravens that are on Twitter w/ their Twitter names?

Duffy: Welcome to the crazy world of tweeting and the 21st century.  You can follow me @duffstar for starters. Then, there’s the Ravens’ official Twitter account @1WinningDrive.  I’ll list all the other players I know of here:

Willis McGahee (@23McGahee), Le’Ron McClain (@LeronMcClain33), Fabian Washington (@FABEWASH31), Donte’ Stallworth (@D_Stallworth18), Sergio Kindle (@KingSerg2), Ray Rice (@RayRice27), Ken Hamlin (@ken_hamlin), Lardarius Webb (@Lwebb21), Michael Oher (@MichaelOher74) and Jared Gaither (@jaredgaither).

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