Ravens aren’t facing an uphill battle…they’re just facing a battle – like everyone else in the NFL

October 15, 2012 | Drew Forrester

That’s PRECISELY the way the Ravens should be thinking at this point.  As we’ve seen the last few years when teams have finagled their way into the post-season in the final couple of weeks and then hoisted the Lombardi Trophy a month later (see the Packers in ’10 and the Giants last season), all you have to do is get in.  Just get in…

Lots of people are bemoaning the fact that the Ravens have suddenly become a poor tackling team out of nowhere.  They’re also wondering how guys like Chykie Brown and Corey Graham will step in and step up for the departed Lardarius Webb and the injured Jimmy Smith.

Those are fair questions, because the CBA doesn’t lend itself well to in-season development.

The new agreement between the players and owners allows for ONLY 14 days of “padded practice” between the day the regular season starts and the day it ends.

Do you need to read that again?  Basically, the Ravens are allowed 14 days of “live contact” between September and the end of December.

How the hell is anyone supposed to improve their technique if they can’t actually “practice”?

So that’s the dilemma facing the Ravens right now, particularly with newcomers or practice squad guys that they might use in place of injured players.  It’s one thing for veteran players to not practice in pads during the season.  The weekly rigors of the league sort of mandate they take it easy by this time in the season.

But for newcomers or guys who need to learn on the fly, real, live football action is important.  Not being able to put pads on execpt for one day a week isn’t a help in this area.

You can run around in shorts and a t-shirt three days a week and you can play football one day a week and somehow, you’re supposed to improve your team like that?  I don’t think you can.

The good news, of course, is that every other team in the league is faced with the same restrictions.  If the Ravens are allowed just 14 “live” practices, so are the Steelers, Patriots, Texans and Bengals.

It still stinks, though, particularly when you’re hit with injuries to key players and you’re desperate for some practice action to teach your players new or improved techniques.

My guess is this:  The Ravens defense will improve a little bit, just because it can’t really get much worse, but the lack of legitimate practice time will make it difficult for the Browns and the Grahams of the world to make any kind of eye-opening improvement between now and the end of the season.  What you see – now – is most likely what you’re going to get.

But the Ravens can win with this defense.

How far can they go?

Who knows…

Everyone thought the Patriots were going to be great and they’re 3-3 with losses to teams like Arizona and Seattle.

The Steelers just lost to the Titans.  And they also lost to the Raiders.

The Bengals have losses to the Dolphins and the – gasp! – Browns.

No one is really all that good in the AFC, even the Ravens and Texans, both of whom are 5-1.  Did you see Houston get run out of the gym last night by the Packers?

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