In fifth year with Ravens, Harbaugh faces biggest challenge yet

July 23, 2012 | Luke Jones

Harbaugh and the coaching staff will be too busy to dwell on last season as the Ravens begin their 17th season in Baltimore.

They’ll need to determine if Williams is up to the task of replacing Grubbs at left guard while they evaluate younger options Osemele and Jah Reid. Meanwhile, they’ll hope aging veterans Bryant McKinnie and Matt Birk will hold up at their respective positions on the offensive line.

Finding the right combination in trying to replace Suggs’ production will be an ongoing problem, one they may not be able to solve this season if the 29-year-old is unable to return this year.

The head coach will be faced with the agonizing dilemma of whether to stick with the maligned Cundiff — the type of choice that can divide a locker room — or offer his faith to talented rookie Justin Tucker, who’s never even made an extra point in the NFL let alone attempted a field goal in the final seconds of a conference championship game.

And he’ll do it all while keeping an eye on his veteran safety, monitoring his physical and mental well-being as he enters the final year of a six-year contract. There’s just no predicting what will happen with Reed after such a mercurial offseason.

All these decisions must be made while maintaining a strong grasp on his football team, keeping players looking ahead rather than dwelling on what went wrong over the last six months.

It’s not an impossible task by any means as the Ravens are one of the model franchises in the NFL. These obstacles aren’t too much to overcome as they still look to be one of the best teams in the AFC.

If anyone’s up to the task, it’s Harbaugh.

He’ll once again have the chance to prove why he’s one of the best coaches in the NFL.

But it will be Harbaugh’s most challenging season to date.