By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens (1-3) are looking for their second straight victory against an AFC North opponent when the Cleveland Browns come to M&T Bank Stadium. With the AFC being the weaker of the 2 conferences, Baltimore is far from out of the playoff picture.
Chris Givens Provides Speed The Ravens Have Sorely Missed
The Ravens are hurting at receiver. They were fielding one of the worse units in football prior to the injuries that occurred last Thursday. Now with Steve Smith and Michael Campanaro both hurting, this unit has gone from bad to worse. Enter Chris Givens from the St. Louis Rams. The Ravens traded a future draft pick in order to obtain his services. Not only will Baltimore have a receiver to replace Campanaro, they acquire a wideout with exceptional speed. He has the ability to play both slot and returner and could be a huge boost for an offense desperate for a playmaker.
Given the short week, the Ravens may be inclined to take it slow with the speedy receiver. But Givens made it clear he's got the situation well under control.
"I'm not worried about learning anything," Givens states. "I'm a pretty smart guy, so I've just got to show up and go to work every day. It's not that big of an adjustment."
Sounds like Givens isn't making any excuses. He expects to go out on the field and perform on Sunday. Something the coaching staff would love nothing more than to see.
Joe Flacco continues to do more with less
Name a quarterback playing at a high level, and chances are you can name a Pro Bowl caliber receiver playing right next to him. The Ravens front office has spent the better part of 20 years looking for a star at wide receiver. With the acquisition of Joe Flacco, that search has intensified. But after 8 plus years of service, Flacco has yet to play with a receiver worthy of grabbing attention from opposing defenses. Steve Smith and Anquan Boldin have been above average during their tenure in Baltimore, but neither scare defenses on a weekly basis.
If Baltimore wants their offense to reach the level of New England or Pittsburgh, they need to find a receiver capable of establishing that kind of respect. And with Flacco in the prime of his career, time is running out. But he has too many other things to worry about than that.
"It's not my job to look and see who we have out there," stated Flacco to reporters. "It's my job to see whoever the guy is that's open and give him a chance to make the catch."
That mentality has gotten the Ravens QB far in this league, but I'm sure even he would admit behind closed doors that some help would be nice.
Ravens Would Be Foolish Not To Pay Justin Tucker
Chances are that football fans witnessed some of the worst kicking this league has every seen in Week 4. Jobs were lost. Teams were devastated. And all because of the smallest guy on the football team.
Enter Justin Tucker!
Widely considered to be one of the best kickers in the NFL, nailed the game winning field goal in overtime to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers and salvage what looked to be a lost season for Baltimore. The former Texas Longhorn is currently finishing up his rookie contract and is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of this season. If the Ravens don't sign him to a long term deal or place the franchise tag on him, he walks.
That would be a disaster for the franchise. With the new extra point rule in effect, kickers have become a necessity for all teams and the Ravens currently posses the golden goose. Baltimore will sign him to a long term deal and it will likely make him the richest kicker in NFL history. Given the state of their salary cap, the Ravens may be in a bit of a bind for the time being. But you better believe Tucker smells that big payday coming -- one that he rightfully deserves.
Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.
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