Which Ravens Must Return to Form


The Ravens may have advanced all the way to the AFC Championship game last year, but that is in the past. Now, there is another long road to Super Bowl XLIV facing the team.

And in order to take that next step, a few Ravens must actually take steps backwards and regain the form they've shown in previous years.

Here is a list of five Ravens that need to bounce back after a rough showing in 2008.* *

It seemed like a new injury plagued McGahee each week in 2008. He came out of training camp with a nagging knee issue, suffered a severely bloodshot eye when someone poked him in Week 2, was carted off the field in the conference title game after a vicious high hit from Steelers safety Ryan Clark and had offseason ankle and knee surgeries.

Baltimore's offense featured a three-headed rushing attack last year, with McGahee notching only 671 yards on the ground and seven scores on 170 carries.

This was one year after he led the Ravens with 1,438 yards of total offense in 2007.

McGahee recently took a backseat to Ray Rice![](/team/roster/ray-rice/9d941a20-0c76-412d-85fd-165a029d59e6/ "Ray Rice") in Organized Team Activities (OTAs), as he played with the second team and Rice started.

The two-time Pro Bowler has said that he feels healthy, but he will have to be ready on Day One of training camp if he wants to reclaim his status as the Ravens' top back.

The two-time Pro Bowler made a name for himself early in his career by being a major threat in the passing game. In the first four seasons where Heap played in all 16 games, he averaged 68.3 receptions for 787.3 yards and 5.5 touchdowns.

Last year, Heap was less of a target for rookie quarterback Joe Flacco![](/team/roster/joe-flacco/3e20766f-6520-4ca1-9901-44389aaea8b8/ "Joe Flacco"), as the Ravens did not exploit the middle of the field as much as they had in the past. In addition, Heap was asked to take on more blocking duties when injuries befell Baltimore's top offensive tackles. As such, Heap finished third on the team with only 35 catches for 403 yards and three scores despite starting a full slate of contests.

Heap has been limited in offseason minicamps because of a back injury suffered just before the playoffs and has not healed as quickly as the Ravens hoped. He only recently was able to participate in seven-on-seven drills.

The Ravens have made it no secret that they want to utilize the tight end as more of a weapon as Flacco enters his sophomore campaign, as demonstrated by the signing of L.J. Smith, another athletic player at the position.

To do that, Heap's recovery is critical. It was 2005 when Heap hauled in a career-best 75 balls for 855 yards and seven touchdowns. He can be that player again.

Landry's situation is more physically-based than performance-based. After entering the league as an unheralded fifth-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech, Landry wasted no time establishing himself as one of the top young defenders in the game.

He was poised to continue his development as the Ravens' enforcer on the back end, but his third season was cut short after he endured a spinal cord concussion on Sept. 21, 2008.

Going low to tackle workhorse Cleveland Browns running back Jamal Lewis, Landry was knocked cold by a Lewis knee to the crown of his helmet, which ended his season early.

Landry has been working diligently with the team's medical staff and expressed confidence in his body, but one can only know for sure when they put on the pads. Landry will need to get a few hits in during training camp to completely know his status and if he can deliver on his promise.

For a long time, Gregg has been known as a vastly underrated talent at the point of Baltimore's defense, but when he couldn't shake chronic swelling and pain in his left knee in training camp, the nose tackle couldn't even suit up for a regular-season game.

Electing for microfracture surgery last October and rehabbing like a possessed demon, Gregg seems ready to reclaim his reputation. In four of the past six years, Gregg has surpassed 100 tackles, an impressive number considering he plays on the interior of the defensive line.

But judging by the way Gregg moved around effortlessly in minicamps, it would not be a surprise if he hits the century mark another time.

The ageless Pryce joined the Ravens in 2006 and offered a team-high 13 sacks. A broken wrist and torn pectoral muscle derailed his following campaign, but Pryce returned soundly in '08 – perhaps just not up to the standard he has set for himself.

Pryce, 33, notched 35 tackles and 4.5 sacks last year. According to Pryce, he still had the same amount of quarterback pressures he posted during his initial season in purple and black, yet it was just a matter of bringing the passer to the turf.

The 13-year veteran looked spry on the practice field in light of his 290 pounds, which suggests that he is aiming to reach double-digits for the fourth time in his career.   

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