The person with the best gauge on how improved the Ravens defense should be this season is probably the guy that faces it every day.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has gone against Baltimore's new-look unit for about two weeks. He was asked for his take on Tuesday.
"I feel like they're pretty darn good," Flacco said.
"They have a lot of pass rushers, they have a lot of guys in the secondary that can run. … Those guys, they feel pretty good out there, especially with those guys on the defensive line. It think that's a big part of being a good defense is having a solid defensive line."
The Ravens offense and defense have been pretty neck-and-neck in terms of who wins practice, according to the team's new scoring system.
But Flacco has certainly been challenged by Baltimore's revamped unit. The defense has thrown a lot of different looks and formations at him.
With the addition of Chris Canty, Marcus Spears and rookie Brandon Williams to the defensive line, the Ravens are mixing and matching their groupings. Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil has also moved around, as has safeties Michael Huff and rookie Matt Elam.
Perhaps the biggest lingering question mark on defense is at inside linebacker, where Jameel McClain (spinal cord) remains sidelined. But Flacco specifically pointed to free-agent veteran addition Daryl Smith as somebody that has stood out.
"[In] the linebackers, Daryl Smith, he looks really good," Flacco said. "He's impressive. I don't really notice those guys too much, but he's impressed me for some reason."
Smith had a nice diving deflection in pass coverage a couple days ago, and he has also shown an ability to get into the backfield to stop runners for a loss.
Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell has also been impressed, specifically by the Ravens' defensive line.
"What we say when we go out here in practice is that if we can block the guys across from us on this field, we'll be in pretty good shape and ready for the competition we're going to face during the season," Caldwell said.