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Late For Work 7/14: John Harbaugh Eyes Return To Top-5 Defense

Posted Jul 14, 2014

What is impact of Jimmy’s arrest? Ravens react to LeBron’s Cleveland return. Flacco ready for camp challenge.

Harbaugh Wants A Top-Five Defense Again

There are only three holdovers from the Ravens’ starting Super Bowl defense: Haloti Ngata, Courtney Upshaw and Terrell Suggs.

A lot has changed in just 17 months, as the Ravens went consecutive years without having a top-10 defense for the first time in 15 years.

What’s the goal this year?

"The expectation for our defense is to be top-five, at the worst," Harbaugh said earlier this offseason. "It has always been that way and always will be."

Thus, the front office has pumped considerable resources into the unit. Their top three picks in the last two drafts went to shoring up the defense. Four youngsters have a shot at starting this season, says Hensley, in Matt Elam, Brandon Williams, C.J. Mosley and Terrence Brooks

Hensley examines the Ravens’ chances of returning to dominance.

“The once-feared group suddenly had become average,” wrote Hensley. “The Ravens needed to get younger, faster and, if their projections are correct, significantly better.”

What’s Impact Of Jimmy Smith’s Arrest?

What impact will Saturday night’s misdemeanor disorderly conduct arrest have on Jimmy Smith’s future?

The 2011 first-round draft was arrested after he was reportedly helping an intoxicated woman in a bathroom and repeatedly refused to leave her side despite police request.

During his three years in the NFL, Smith has had no off-field issues and is blossoming into one of the league’s best young cornerbacks. Prior to his arrest, the Ravens picked up the fifth-year option of his rookie contract to play in 2015, and want to sign him to a long-term deal.

CSNBaltimore.com’s Clifton Brown doesn’t see this incident affecting Smith’s future plans.

“[I]t’s a misdemeanor charge and barring any other negative information that comes out, it should not have much of an impact on Smith moving forward,” Brown said. “None of what happened with his arrest will change [a long-term extension].”

That’s a perspective on the situation as an isolated incident, but because Smith marks the Ravens’ fifth arrest this offseason, there’s a larger, cumulative impact on the organization as a whole, analysts say.

One out of every four NFL players arrested this offseason have been Ravens, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, which is one more than the team had in Head Coach John Harbaugh’s previous six seasons.

“On the surface and probably by itself, I’m not sure this story is all that much,” said ESPN colleague Scott Brown. “But when you take the arrest on the whole and you put it in context of Jimmy Smith becoming the fifth Raven arrested this offseason, yeah, it’s a little bigger deal.

“I’m guessing that John Harbaugh, for one, can’t wait for training camp to start just so he can get his guys under some semblance of his control.”

Asked what the team could do to prevent players from future trouble, Brown didn’t have a precise answer. Other than reminding players not to “be that guy,” Brown said players ultimately have to take responsibility.

Added Hensley: “While many want to point a finger at the Ravens for not having a tighter rein on their players, all five arrests occurred when the players were on a break from offseason workouts. In fact, all but Smith's arrest occurred outside Maryland. There is only so much a team can do to keep an eye on all 90 players on its roster. 

“The good news for the Ravens is that the offseason is almost over. There are only [nine] days until the entire team reports for training camp.” 

 Ravens React To LeBron’s Cleveland Return

Ravens players have mixed feelings about NBA superstar LeBron James returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.

Some Ravens are big enough fans of James, who is considered the best basketball player in the world, that they will travel on the LeBron bandwagon wherever he goes. Others are happy with his decision because of his desire to help his home state enjoy success. And yet others are heartbroken.

Just as noteworthy as some of the opinions highlighted below is the fact that Terrell Suggs didn’t post any reaction on social media.

Suggs is a known LeBron fanatic, meeting him at a Heat game in February and loyally cheering him on in the playoffs. But Suggs was silent on the subject.

Below are fellow Ravens reactions.

Hope Lebron goes back to #23

McClain: Andre Johnson Will Be With Texans When Dust Settles

For those hoping the Texans would be willing to trade disgruntled All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson, one long-time Houston columnist says it’s not going to happen.

“The Andre Johnson controversy will be resolved one of two ways: He will report to the Texans under the terms of his contract, or he will sit out,” wrote The Houston Chronicle’s John McClain.

“Johnson, one of the best receivers in NFL history, will not be traded for several reasons. The Texans want him to finish his career in Houston. They know they are a better team with him. And they don't want to set a precedent for similar situations that might develop in the future.”

Quick Hits

  • @mikecamp_3: Had a Great Time Signing At Crav'n Raven Yesterday! Ravens Fans Are The Best!! #RavenNation [Instagram]

  • @untouchablejay55 [Terrell Suggs]: A BEAUTIFUL REFLECTION OF GODS GRACE!!!!! I'm whole again!!!! [Instagram]

  • Joe Flacco is ready for the challenge of training camp. [CSNBaltimore.com]

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Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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