Ravens Q&A with Mike Preston

Baltimore Sun reporter

J.: Great overall game by the players and coaches against the Colts, but I do have one question. Coming out in the second half, the Ravens seemed to be more concerned and content with running the ball up the middle and trying to drain the clock. At this point in the season, why wouldn't they try to at least get another quick score to provide a nice cushion, and then give Tyrod Taylor an entire quarter of football to get his feet wet? We all know it only takes one play to lose a starting QB in this league, and it would seem to me that giving our rookie backup QB some real game experience might pay off in the games that lie ahead.

Mike Preston: J, I don't think the Ravens went conservative to open the third quarter. Actually, on their first series they came out throwing and went from their own 20 to the Indy 44. On the next series, they had an eight-play, 63-yard touchdown drive. The Ravens played well and I thought they had good balance. Should they have scored more? Yes, but the Colts weren't in this game after the coin toss.

I would like to have seen quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice on the bench at the start of the fourth quarter. I'm not concerned about other players getting playing time, but [I would be concerned about] those guys getting hurt. The Ravens can replace Ray Lewis on defense, but that can't happen on offense. Coach John Harbaugh needs to make better decisions on when to take players out.

Kathryn: I know that the defense let up a bit in the final minutes and the last-second touchdown was a drag, but what made John Harbaugh so upset? It looked like he was yelling at Chuck Pagano as CBS went to fade.

Mike Preston: Who knows? Regardless of which players are in the game, head coaches want perfection because they might eventually have to use these players. Harbaugh is a perfectionist and I agree that there shouldn't be any garbage time. Regardless if you are second string or third string, you are a professional and expected to perform as such.

There is also speculation that maybe Harbaugh wasn't happy with Colts coach Jim Caldwell calling those timeouts near the end of the game and then throwing that late touchdown pass after the Ravens had put in the reserves on defense. A lot of things could have ticked Harbaugh off at the end of the game, but he was very happy in the post-game news conference and later in the locker room.

Dave: Not to nitpick, but why did the Ravens choose not to rest key players once the game was out of reach?

Mike Preston: Dave, I can't answer that. I assume that Harbaugh thought a two-touchdown lead was not efficient and he wasn't going to take any chances. Remember, if he kept his starters in earlier in the season against the Rams, I'd expect him to do the same later in the season against the Indianapolis Colts.

Rob M.: Hey Mike, great column. What happened to Cory Redding after his great first quarter against the Colts? Did he get hurt or tired?

Mike Preston: I think he got tired of whipping the butts of right tackle Jeff Linkenbach and right guard Ryan Diem. Because Redding was so effective in the first quarter, the Colts had to find a way to slow him down. I thought Redding played well, and disrupted a lot of Indianapolis plays with penetration even when he didn't make the tackle.

Stevie B: Mike, last week I asked you a three-part question about Ray Lewis. I asked if the Ravens' defense is better without him playing at this stage of his career, if his long-term replacement is currently on the Ravens' roster, and if so, who is that player. This week I think it's only fair to ask the same about Ed Reed. At this point in his career due to his physical problems, he either can't or won't tackle. He freelances way too much in coverage and is, therefore, frequently out of position. In Sunday's Colts game for example, he was credited with three tackles, no interceptions, no pass knock downs. In other words, no significant impact against the worst team in the NFL. Thanks for your three-part answer to my three-part question.

Mike Preston: To my pal and long-winded buddy Steve B: I really can't tell how you knew if Reed was out of position Sunday. Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky was not very accurate and few of his passes went over 20 yards. In fact, Orlovsky finished with only 136 yards passing yards. Besides outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and inside linebacker Jameel McClain, few of the Ravens had great statistics because the Colts were so inept. As far as not tackling, Reed is a free safety, not a strong safety. He has saved the Ravens numerous times on open-field tackles that would have resulted in touchdowns and possibly losses.

Is he as good as he was years ago? No. Is he still playing at a high level? Yes. Is he a leader in the secondary? Yes. Is there a safety in the NFL who covers more ground in the back end? No. Is he a pain in my butt to deal with? Absolutely. But I enjoy the sparring sessions with Ed. I understand that Reed doesn't come up and tackle like he used to, but he is still very effective and impacts a game.

Hope that answers your question. Now I've got one for you: Who on the roster can replace him?

Shawn in New Freedom, Pa.: Sergio Kindle was active Sunday for just the second time this season. With the play of Paul Kruger and especially Pernell McPhee, does Kindle have a place on this team anymore?

Mike Preston: Yes, he just has to improve his practice habits and earn more playing time. I really didn't think he was going to be a significant factor early in the season. I assumed he would get more playing time near the end, and hopefully it works out for him.

Scott in Huntersville, N.C.: Is it just me or does it seem like the Ravens' kickoff and punt coverage is consistently bad? Jerry Rosburg seems like he has high standards, but they cannot seem to get this fixed. Why is he always given a free pass instead of being held accountable? Of the three phases, special teams is the weakest.

Mike Preston: Jerry Rosburg certainly hasn't gotten any free passes. He is accountable and you are correct, at least about the kickoff coverage being poor. I think heading into San Diego, the Ravens have to re-evaluate the scheme and the personnel. The Colts averaged 30 yards per kickoff return Sunday. I'm sure the Ravens don't want to give that type of field position to Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.

Brian: After watching the 2011 NFL combine I was disappointed that the Ravens picked Torrey Smith in the second round of the draft. I thought they were reaching to grab a Maryland guy. I admit my mistake and now love Torrey. But the receiver I was most excited about was Tandon Doss. After seeing him play in the preseason, I thought he would contribute during the season. Any insight on Doss? (Torrey, if you read this I owe you a dinner.)

Mike Preston: Doss has great hands, but for him to be active he has to give the Ravens something on special teams, and he doesn't. If a player is on the roster on Game Day, he has to make some form of contribution on Sunday afternoons.

Larry from Baltimore: Is it me or does Joe Flacco look like Hulk Hogan with that Fu Manchu? I keep picturing the Ravens winning a game, Flacco coming into the post-game interview, ripping off his jersey and saying, "WHATCHA GONNA DO, BROTHER, WHEN JOE FLACCO THROWS WILD ON YOU!" My question to you, Mike, is what will the Ravens have to accomplish this season in order for you to join the Flaccomaniacs and sport the Fu Manchu?

Mike Preston: Flaccomaniacs. I like the term. Apparently Larry, as the Hulkster would say, "you have been saying your prayers, drinking your milk and taking your vitamins. I bet you got some 24-inch pythons for biceps."

Yes, I grew up watching wrestling, going back to the days of Bruno Sammartino and Bobo Brazil, but I really can't see myself with the Fu Manchu. Plus, I cover the story, not become a part of it. Some local media like the attention. I've never wanted to be a carnival barker.

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