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
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
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
With Sams’ recent arrest, the two receivers may have gained further ground in
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'.