Can the Ravens finally reach the summit in 2012?

July 13, 2012 | Mark Brown

Nearly six months ago, I was watching along with everyone else as the catch-able pass nonetheless was dropped by Lee Evans. Not very long after that, I watched the kick from Billy Cundiff sail wide. I’m a little less heartbroken than I was in January, but not by much. I’ve barely been able to think about the Ravens without remembering the pain of that loss.

With training camp not too far in the future, it’s time to get over it and take a look at the upcoming season. I do it with a little bit of dread. Perhaps being an Orioles fan for so long has traumatized me. In 1997, nobody knew when Armando Benitez decided to start hanging sliders instead of throwing fastballs that was as close as the team would get for a decade and a half. I haven’t been able to shake that feeling since Evans dropped the pass – what if that’s as close as we’re going to get?

Well, no sense worrying about it right now. In any case, whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist, the same question remains: can the Ravens get over that last hump and once again make it to the summit?

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES

Out: Chuck Pagano, Jarret Johnson, Ben Grubbs, Cory Redding

It was a tough free agency period for the Ravens, with several key players, and one key coach, heading elsewhere. All will be missed by the team. Pagano brought excitement back to the defense that had felt like it was missing in the days of Greg Mattison. Grubbs was a bright spot on an offensive line that occasionally struggled, a rare first-round pick that the Ravens were unable to keep in the roost. Evans is also gone after being released, and Cundiff could lose his job in training camp, but I won’t miss those guys and you probably won’t either.

In:

No, that’s mean. The Ravens added recent Pro Bowler Corey Graham from the Bears in free agency. Another signing was Jacoby Jones, whom Ravens fans will remember for muffing a punt against the Ravens in the playoffs. That’s not exactly awe-inspiring stuff. Other signings seemed to be more in the margins, with hopes they will find a niche in the Ravens system. This would not be an unprecedented outcome, though Ravens fans will hope those unexpected finds turn out more like Jim Leonhard than Frank Walker.

As well, the Ravens had a draft that fit their usual pattern of finding value later down in the rounds. The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec gave them a B grade at the time, noting that “getting Courtney Upshaw in the second round while also acquiring a pick was a huge coup.” Ozzie Newsome has a history of finding the right player for the Ravens even later in the draft than this. Last year’s big find was fifth-rounder Pernell McPhee. A few years ago, it was third-round cornerback Lardarius Webb. Is another such diamond in the rough lurking in the 2012 draft class?

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