Boulware - a risk worth taking

Staff Writer
Posted Aug 18, 2005


Bringing back Peter Boulware is a risky move, but a move the Ravens needed to make. The Ravens went through a careful negotiating process with the four-time Pro Bowl linebacker before deciding he was healthy enough to bring back. Ironically, neither Boulware’s old No. 58 jersey nor his locker are occupied at the moment.

It remains to be seen if the strong side backer is healthy enough to contribute as a third-down pass-rusher. Boulware will be used as a down lineman playing opposite of Terrell Suggs on the edge, a role he excelled in during much of his NFL career. Boulware’s knowledge and understanding of how to use moves to break down an offensive tackle is undisputed; but if he lost much of the burst and explosiveness he had before going down with an injury against the Cleveland Browns during the 2003 season, he may not have much of an impact.

Conversely, if Boulware returns to form, the Ravens will have a much more effective four man front to get after the quarterback in third-and-long situations. Ideally, Boulware and Suggs would line up as ends on the outside, while the Ravens could move Jarret Johnson to the inside next to Anthony Weaver. When the Ravens have to line up in a dime package, the coaches could also tinker with using Adalius Thomas at defensive tackle to match-up against a guard.

If the quicker front four can collapse the pocket consistently on third-down without the help of a heavy blitz, the Ravens’ pass coverage will benefit greatly…

Speaking of linebackers, the Ravens may have a true find in insider linebacker Mike Smith. Smith was drafted out of Texas Tech in the seventh-round of this year’s draft. Through training camp practices and a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons, the first year pro has been a playmaker. Smith has good range and speed. He possesses the versatility and size to line up at either outside or inside linebacker positions.

What stands out the most about Smith is his technique. When coming into the box to stuff running backs, the rookie linebacker uses his hands well to stack and shed blockers. He also does a nice job of wrapping up the ball carrier. In coverage situations, Smith displays good speed when chasing from sideline-to-sideline.

Although it is still early, look for Smith to make the 53-man roster…

B.J. Sams’ hold on a roster spot was already tenuous given the emergence of Patrick Johnson and Mark Clayton as return men. Johnson was a solid kick returner for the Ravens during the first two years of his career in Baltimore. Clayton was among the top punt returners in college football while he played at Oklahoma.

With Sams’ recent arrest, the two receivers may have gained further ground in the competition…

There was some doubt about Ovie Mughelli earning a place on the Ravens’ final roster, but thus far, he has performed well in training camp, and he filled in aptly for starting fullback Alan Ricard against the Falcons.

Mughelli helped spearhead the Ravens’ strong rushing attack against Atlanta by consistently winning his one-on-one encounters against any linebacker he was assigned to block. If Mughelli can stay healthy and consistent, he should be a solid blocking backup to Ricard. In addition, if Ricard is not re-signed by Baltimore in the off-season, Mughelli should step into the starting role.

Dev Panchwagh is a long-time member of the Ravens Insider staff.  Talk to him about this article on the RavensInsider message boards where he posts under the super-secret ID 'dev21'.



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