Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

June 13, 2013

Defending Super Bowl champs have plenty of names to learn

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens spent three days getting to know each other during the mandatory minicamp that ended Thursday.

That apparently wasn’t enough time to handle the full complement of introductions.

“The new linebacker that came in, No. 51, I don’t know his name yet,” offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie said, referring to free agent signee Daryl Smith.

Since winning the Super Bowl in February, the Ravens lost nine significant contributors via retirement, trade or free agency — most notably Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Matt Birk and Vonta Leach.

The list of newcomers includes Elvis Dumervil, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Michael Huff and, of course, Smith. Throw in a new draft class, and it might not be a bad idea if, when they assemble again for training camp in late July, these guys wear tags that read, “Hello, My Name Is...”

Asked to comment on the rookies, McKinnie said, “The DB that we got, I don’t know everybody’s name yet, 26, he looks pretty good out there.”

That would be top draft pick Matt Elam, who might get some significant playing time while coach John Harbaugh tries to figure out how to replace 16-game starter Cary Williams (who left as a free agent to the Philadelphia Eagles).

Because of massive turnover that occurred during the offseason, the Ravens appear to be a squad just trying to win a Super Bowl rather than a team defending its title.

“I think it’s exactly what it is,” Harbaugh said. “Our guys understand that. That’s been their mindset as far as I can tell. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to do something really special, just like every year. It’s just different this year.”

McKinnie said, “To me, if feels like we’re working to get a Super Bowl because there are a lot of new faces here. The chemistry kind of has to grow with all the new people and everything; different people have to play different roles as far as stepping up and becoming leaders.”

The process began with this camp, the only mandatory one of the offseason. Dumervil, Canty, Spears, Huff and Smith got to work alongside returnees Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Arthur Jones.

“I was very pleased with the effort, very pleased with what we accomplished,” Harbaugh said. “I think we’re in a good place as a football team.”

Even without Bernard Pollard, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger and all the rest.

“I feel like we have this situation every year,” Harbaugh said. “If you look at the numbers, we’ve always been in situations where we have to replace a lot of guys. It gets a little more attention because of who those guys are, but Todd Heap was a pretty big name, Derrick Mason, Cory Redding, the list goes on. But when you’re talking about two first-ballot Hall of Famers (Lewis and Reed), that does have an impact. It’s the first time we’ve had to deal with that.”

Quarterback Joe Flacco is back, but he’s evidently far more adept at memorizing the playbook than the names of those around him.

“I probably don’t know 90 percent of the guys’ names on this team right now,” he acknowledged. “Whatever number they are, I kind of recognize them by that. ... But they look pretty good. And it’s exciting to see those new faces and just see that fresh (approach) and the enthusiasm they have.”

Despite losing so many key players on defense, the Ravens expect the unit can be even better this year.

“Having Elvis on the other side of Terrell, and having Michael Huff in the back, it’s just going to be pretty cool,” Ngata said. “We’ll see what Daryl Smith can do for us, so it’s really exciting to have a lot of these new faces in, and a lot of names that you’ve heard around the league are on our team now.”

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