The 2012 NFL season is just a few weeks away from starting with training camps set to open up in two weeks.
The questions and concerns for almost every team have started to pop up.
It's no different for the Baltimore Ravens who have a veteran-based team but with offseason injury to Terrell Suggs and contract issues with star running back Ray Rice, the question the fans have is can they repeat what they did in 2011 and take it a step further this season?
The offseason is a time of the year where many players take it easy and get some needed rest but for great players it's a time for them to prepare for the next season.
That seems to be the case with Terrell Suggs, as he tore his Achilles tendon in April during his off-season conditioning program.
Now this came with multiple reports that it is believed it could have happened while playing basketball. Though he disputes this, it doesn't matter as the injury is done.
The loss of Suggs, with many of the players they lost to free agency, puts more pressure on veteran and future Hall Of Famer Ray Lewis' shoulders. The team will need young guys like Paul Kruger, Pernell McPhee and rookie Courtney Upshaw to step up on the defensive side of the ball.
Baltimore does have a good secondary though, with Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams, Jimmy Smith, Bernard Pollard and future Hall of Famer Ed Reed to take the pressure off the front seven. The team also has All-Pro Haloti Ngata on the front line to go along with the veteran leadership of Ray Lewis.
The biggest concerns I have on the defensive side of the ball is who is going to step up and get to the quarterback? The answer isn't just one person -- it will take multiple players and with the secondary that will only get better, it should lead to more sacks as quarterbacks will hold on to the ball. The other issue the defense will have is it will be led by a new defensive coordinator after Chuck Pagano left to be head coach of the Colts.
Then you have contract issues on the rise as Ed Reed recently has shared he would like a new deal and even shared the ideas that he might not want to play football anymore.
Plus you have Ray Rice who is looking for a new deal after being franchised by the team this offseason. No player in the league likes the franchise tender as they would like upfront guaranteed money that they get from bonuses in the contract. This also leads to the possibilites that he may be a holdout, leaving a multiple of inexperienced running backs to work with.
No excuses will be made at the castle in Owings Mills as the team will do what they do every year and that is get ready to play football in September. With the same goal as the year before -- and that is to hoist the Lombardi Trophy come February!
The team will have a tough road ahead of them but I see them stepping up to the plate, and have proven that they have what it takes to win the Super Bowl.
Look for Joe Flacco to take another step forward and the offense to take on more of the workload. The Ravens have the veteran leadership and the young talent to win the division and more!