Ray to Retire? Ya, Right!
Fat chance that Baltimore defensive stalwart Ray Lewis will soon join offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden on the sidelines as a retired Raven.
While Ogden finally decided last month that a painful bout of turf toe would help spell the end of his NFL career, Lewis said this week that “football is just getting started for me.”
It’s great news for the Ravens, seeking to rebound after a nightmare 2007 season saw them bottom out at 5-11.
While discussions regarding Lewis’ future with the team – he’ll be a free agent after 2008 – are still ongoing, he reminded us that he’s never held out from camp or had a contract dispute, so regardless of the off-the-field stuff, you can expect the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year to be on the field, ready to reap havoc like only he can.
While Lewis has only managed to play in 34 of the team’s last 48 games and his tackle numbers have been dwindling in recent years, he really upped his commitment to conditioning this offseason, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him show some vintage form.
Rookies and quarterbacks arrived at training camp for the Ravens Monday, and Wednesday, the vets will follow, and yes, that includes Lewis, about to launch into his 13th season – nine of which have seen him named a Pro Bowler.
So while the 33-year-old Lewis, owner of over 2,000 career tackles, says he’s ready to play for another three or four years at least, the real story of the Raven camp will be the quarterback controversy.
Plenty has changed since we wrote our Raven team capsule on March 15. Now that Steve McNair is retired, will veteran Kyle Boller emerge as the No. 1 man in B-More? Is rookie Joe Flacco, finally signed and definitely the QB of the future for the Ravens, ready for a baptism by fire? Or will sophomore Troy Smith be given a longer look this year?
We’re probably realistically looking at a battle between Boller and the rookie Flacco. As Andy so aptly put, “Boller is Boller; he’s not going to turn into Joe Montana.” So the key question is whether Flacco is ready or not. All eyes must watch him very carefully during training camp and the exhibition schedule.
From a fantasy perspective, because of the solid receiving options, either could prove to be decent backups for your team. Boller definitely is still young enough to improve, but how much? I’m not bullish on those prospects. So that leaves the untested Flacco, and all bets are off in that scenario.