A question for the Ravens coming into this season was how they would respond to the change in leadership after losing so many key veterans.
Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Matt Birk and Bernard Pollard were all well respected in the locker room, and their departures ushered in a new era in Baltimore.
The Ravens' 3-5 start to this season has recently brought on new questions about the team's leadership, but Head Coach John Harbaugh emphasized that he is pleased with what he has seen in that area.
"I'm very satisfied," Harbaugh said. "Our team, our attitude and our work ethic and the way we are handling adversity – which is the measurement of that – that's what counts. And in the end, it will show up in the results."
Players like Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Ray Rice and Torrey Smith have taken over as leaders in the locker room. Newcomers Daryl Smith, Chris Canty and Elvis Dumervil have also brought a respected elder voice.
Their leadership style is different from players of the past – Lewis was known for his impassioned pre-game speeches and emotional sideline demeanor – but a different approach does not mean it is any less productive.
"The best kind of leadership is leadership by example," Harbaugh said. "Our guys make speeches, but you don't have to make a speech, you don't have to show up and show everybody what a leader you are, you just have to be a leader. I really love our guys and I think they do a great job with that."
This year's group finds itself in an unfamiliar situation by falling behind in the standings early in the year. A potential concern with a veteran group getting in a hole is that some teams can lose motivation in the second half of the season, but Smith stressed that is not a concern for this group.
"Suggs, Haloti, Joe, Ray [Rice] and all the guys that have been here in the past, they're still focused," Smith said. "We're having good practices; everyone is still loose and having fun. No one is pointing the fingers and I think that's what it's all about.
"We can struggle right now like we are and everyone still stick together, not flinch, not jump ship and [I] think that it'll make us a stronger team and get this thing right. It'll be that much more special because we stuck together and gutted it out."