Birk: Ravens could be even better this year

Birk: Ravens could be even better this year
July 7, 2013, 11:45 am
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Baltimore Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil (58) is interviewed after organized team activities at the Under Armour Training Facility.

(Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

The Ravens roster turnover this offseason has left a lot of question marks for the defending Super Bowl champs, but former Ravens center Matt Birk isn't concerned.

“The Ravens may be better next year," Birk said in an appearance on the NFL Network. "I really do think the Ravens might be better next year.”

Birk, who retired this offseason after a 15-year career -- the last four in Baltimore -- acknowledged the loss of several key players, but praised the offseason moved by Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome.

"It's a different team,  and it's built a different way," Birk told NFL Network. "You're not gonna replace Ray Lewis or Ed Reed, in certain aspects. You're not gonna get a franchise middle linebacker right out of the gate."

But Birk had high praise for the way Newsome shored up the defensive line, adding free agents Chris Canty and Marcus Spears.

"That now becomes the strength of the defense," Birk said. "And to fall into Elvis Dumervil? Are you kidding me?"

With the rebuilt front, and Dumervil and Suggs rushing off the edge, Birk said that, "Dean Pees, the defensive coordinator for the Ravens, he’s going to have some fun.”

And the defensive strength doesn't end there. Birk noted that the Ravens will also benefit from the return of cornerback Lardarius Webb from his season-ending ACL injury.

Webb "might not be a household name," Birk said, "but he is one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL."

Birk pointed out that the offense has a lot of weapons returning, and he downplayed his retirement as a key roster development. But Birk joined the chorus concerned about the loss of Anquan Boldin, who was traded to the 49ers.

"Anquan Boldin became the go-to guy in the playoffs," Birk said. "They didn't replace him. They don't have that guy. But you do have two great tight ends in Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson .... two backs, Torrey Smith, Jacoby (Jones). I mean, you've got weapons. And you've got the quarterback happy, and locked up for a long time."

You can watch Birk's whole breakdown here.

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