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Mailbag: Who Will Be the Biggest Defensive Playmaker?

CB Marcus Peters
CB Marcus Peters

Mink: How can I go with anyone other than Marcus Peters? After all, he has more interceptions (27) than anybody since he entered the league in 2015. Peters is the ultimate ball hawk with a mindset and hands that make you have visions of Ed Reed.

Peters had five interceptions (and three touchdowns) last season, and he could get even more this year now that he'll have a full season in Baltimore and with an improved front-seven that should have quarterbacks taking more risks to avoid being sacked.

If not Peters, I'll throw you a curveball. I think 6-foot-8, 300-pound defensive lineman Calais Campbell will be a monster up front this season and it would not surprise me if he leads the team in sacks. He had just 6.5 last year, but 24.5 in the two seasons prior. He and Matthew Judon will be neck-and-neck. While it's not flashy in terms of traditional "playmaking," I also expect Campbell to set up camp in opponents' backfields as a run-stopping force. Considering that was an issue at times for the Ravens defense last year, it's a contribution that shouldn't be overlooked.

Downing: The competition for the starting center job is still alive and well. I'd expect the Ravens to finalize the starting offensive line before next week's preparation for the Cleveland Browns, but at this point they've still yet to name a starter. We might not find out until Sept. 13. Skura has gradually worked his way back from last year's major knee injury, and the fact that he's on the field at all says a lot about his work ethic and rehab. He's back to full-team 11-on-11 drills, which is a great sign, but the coaches will have to decide if he's moving well enough at this point to immediately regain the starting job.

I've said all along that the staring center job really goes beyond that one position. You have to look at the three interior offensive line spots overall. The right guard spot is also still up for grabs between the veteran D.J. Fluker and the rookie Tyre Phillips. Bradley Bozeman could return to left guard where he started last year, but he's also taken reps at center in camp. Skura and Mekari have also played guard in their careers. The Ravens are looking for their five best offensive lineman, and at this point it still seems like that group needs to be determined.

Mink: I don't have any details for you on Dez Bryant's reported workout because they're private. I can confidently say that either A) The Ravens feel good enough about their current wideouts that they don't need to make an addition at this time, or B) They didn't love the workout. I'm strongly leaning toward option A considering the Ravens didn't go in another direction. If they felt they had to add a veteran to the mix, they would have.

While the Ravens' wideouts don't get much love from the national pundits, they've been one of the best groups at training camp. Miles Boykin looks poised to take the Year 2 step everyone hoped for and rookie wideouts Devin Duvernay and James Proche III have been very impressive and will both have roles on offense. Veteran Willie Snead IV has hit an extra gear in camp, and do we need any more hype around Marquise "Hollywood" Brown?

In a vacuum, I like what Bryant could offer. But after watching practice, it's clear that the young guns have earned a chance to play. If injuries occur or somebody that looks good in practice doesn't look so good in games, the Ravens (reportedly) know what Bryant offers and could bring him back.

Downing: Jefferson's name has come up in media speculation since the Ravens decided to release to Earl Thomas III last month. The veteran safety is still available after recovering from last year's significant knee injury, and he hasn't been linked to any reported workouts from other teams. Jefferson was an incredibly well-respected player during his time in Baltimore and the locker room would welcome him back with open arms. But the Ravens also like what they have at safety, and they aren't necessarily looking for more depth. The versatility of Jimmy Smith and Anthony Levine Sr. to play safety gives them good veteran depth at the position.

Another piece to consider is Jefferson's health. Jefferson has occasionally posted videos showing progress in his recovery, but where is he in that process? Is he ready to play right away, or does he still need time to recover? If the Ravens were to suffer an injury at the position to Chuck Clark or DeShon Elliott, then it wouldn't surprise me if they put it in a call to Jefferson, but I don't expect that to happen if the two starters stay healthy.

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