Super Bowl 2013 preview: Ravens defensive cheat sheet

Jared Wickerham

We take a look at the different aspects of the Baltimore Ravens defense heading into Super Bowl 47.

We continue our Ravens positional preview by taking a look at the Ravens defense. Thanks to Baltimore Beatdown for taking a few minutes to provide us with a rundown of the various players on the Ravens defense. We'll have plenty more preview content about the Ravens defense, but this is meant more to get things going on a fairly basic level. You can head over to Baltimore Beatdown to see my rundown of the 49ers defense. We'll be back with the special teams units in an hour.

The Ravens defense is not quite what it once was, but they can still make plays when needed. The big question in my mind is less about the players on the field, and more about what defensive coordinator Dean Pees has in mind to counter Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers offense is about more than just Kap, but the game-plan will likely adjust based on how the Ravens play the read option. Greg Roman vs. Dean Pees will be an interesting one to follow all night on Sunday.

Defensive Line

Starters: DT Haloti Ngata (92), NT Ma'ake Kemoeatu (96), DE Arthur Jones (97)
Reserves: DT Terrence Cody (62), DE Pernell McPhee (90), DT Bryan Hall (95)

The d-line is inter-changeable depending on down and distance, but the mainstay is Ngata, who is perhaps as healthy and therefore disruptive as he has been all season. At 6'4" and 330 pounds, Ngata can plug the gap, rush the passes and chase down receivers with surprising speed and agility. Cody comes in to stop the run and McPhee does the same in passing situations.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB Ray Lewis (52), ILB Dannell Ellerbe (59), OLB Terrell Suggs (55), OLB Paul Kruger (99)
Reserves: LB Courtney Upshaw (91), LB Albert McClellan (50), LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (51)

Lewis leads this group and the defense in tackles while Suggs and Kruger rush the passer from outside. However, over the course of the season, Ellerbe has been the most consistent and could be in line to be the next great Ravens linebacker, with 92 tackles, 4.5 sacks and an interception in the AFC Championship Game.

Secondary

Starters: CB Cary Williams (29), CB Corey Graham (24), FS Ed Reed (20), SS Bernard Pollard (31)
Reserves: CB Jimmy Smith (22), CB Chykie Brown (23), S James Ihedigbo (32)

Despite the season-ending injury to starter Lardarius Webb and surgery to Jimmy Smith, this group has risen to the occasion and played tough and solid, especially Graham, who was originally brought in as a Special Teams specialist but has thrived as corner, as evidenced by two key picks of Peyton Manning in the Divisional Round. Williams tied Reed for the team lead with 4 interceptions, but was targeted more than any other CB in the league during the regular season. With the combination of the ball-hawking Reed and thumper Pollard, they can create turnovers through interceptions or just separating the ball-carrier from the ball.

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