I’ll have to assume that you already know where I’m going with this, but since I’ve already written this much I won’t bother to stop now.
I will assume some of the responsibility for this conversation last week, although more of it falls on the shoulders of my colleague Thyrl Nelson. During “The Handoff” one day last week on AM1570 WNST.net, I brought up a topic that I should have known better than to introduce. I said that as the preseason was wrapping up and we were finally moving into a “game week” scenario, there was little that had changed regarding my feelings about the 2012 Baltimore Ravens. I said I knew QB Joe Flacco could throw, RB Ray Rice could run, WR Anquan Boldin could catch and LB Ray Lewis could tackle. It was correctly pointed out that I already knew all of those things before the preseason started.
I then pointed out that I wasn’t certain the Ravens had done enough to make up for key defensive losses, I was worried about the overall ability for the Offensive Line to get a push and I still had concerns related to the size of the team’s receivers. These were all also concerns that had existed before the start of the preseason. I added in that the most disappointing part of the Ravens’ offseason to me was that rookie LB Courtney Upshaw hadn’t established himself as a man who could be counted on to provide at least a level of production in the absence of LB Terrell Suggs.
It was a simple statement. While I believe Albert McClellan has done everything to earn the right to be the team’s starting RUSH LB, it’s hard to imagine him being particularly productive when it comes to getting after opposing quarterbacks. After Suggs suffered the torn achilles, we knew no one could necessarily “replace” the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. There was at least a hope however that Upshaw might be ready at a very early stage to do quite a bit of work in his stead.
No one thought Upshaw was ready to jump from Alabama to being Terrell Suggs, but it would have served a great purpose to see him go from Alabama to CAPABLE NFL rusher quickly. When the Baltimore Ravens play what could be a critical AFC North battle against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night, it would be hard to expect anything like that from him. Actually, as he deals with a shoulder injury it’s hard to know if anything can be expected from Upshaw at all.
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