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Unknown, But Important Contributors – Baltimore Ravens Edition

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The Bolts played one of their most exciting games of the 2014 season in Baltimore, narrowly coming out with the win. This week’s opponent has a lot of new faces this season that are trying to get things figured out, especially on offense.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

UBIC - Offense

Kamar Aiken (WR- #11) The Raven have turned over most of their roster from the Super Bowl Champions of 2012.  No position group has been spared; that includes the wide receivers.  Gone are Boldin, Torrey Smith, and any other wide receiver that caught balls thrown by Joe Flacco that season.  The Ravens, seeing the cupboard of playmakers getting sparse, drafted Breshad Perriman in the first round of the last draft.

The plan was to have Perriman get tutored by the elder statesman on the offense, Steve Smith, Sr.  Then, the young man would be THE GUY when Smith called it a career at the end of 2015.  Alas, this is the NFL though, and plans have a way of not working out as desired.  Perriman tore up his knee before he even saw the field for a real game, which has left Smith with very little company in the talented playmaker department.  Which brings us to Kamar Aiken.

Aiken is in a very unfamiliar role and being counted on to do something he has not had the chance to do yet in a career that started in Buffalo in 2011.  The undrafted Aiken (also out of Central Florida) then languished on practice squads and the lowest tiers of depth charts in Buffalo and New England before arriving in Baltimore in 2013.  He got a chance to play last season, appearing in all 16 games and getting targeted 32 times.  The 6'2", 213 pound Aiken is note especially fast, powerful or elusive.  He would probably have a tough time remaining on any team as a 4th or 5th receiver.

The Ravens are hoping he can grow into the job of #2 option.  He is currently 3rd on the team in receptions with 19; but the team really needs him to step up.  He'll have a chance on Sunday; if the Bolts follow their usual pattern, Aiken will be matched up on Flowers.   That has proved to be favorable to the receivers so far this season.

Honorable Mention

Javorius Allen (RB - #37) The big gun out of the backfield for the Ravens this year remains the same as it was last year.  That would be Justin Forsett.  The Ravens do still have Lorenzo Taliaferro on the roster, but he seems to be out of favor as the preferred change of pace back to Forsett.  Allen has some good attributes for an NFL RB; size (6'1", 220 pounds), good burst, and an intriguing mixture of patience and violence in hitting the hole.  He has 162 yards on 33 carries so far this season for great 4.9 YPC.  Drafted out of USC in the 4th round, he is (for now) the heir apparent to Forsett.  Look for him in the late 2nd and/or early 3rd quarter to keep Forsett fresh and to act as a sledgehammer if John Harbaugh thinks the Bolts D is getting gassed.

UBIC - Defense

Will Hill (SS - #33) Hill is a little bit of an anomaly.  At 6'1" and 205 pounds, he is a little lighter than most strong safeties in the NFL.  Most of those guys are 10-20 heavier, but a little slower than quick hill.  His speed and reaction time enable him to play a little further off the line than most SS in the league.  His ability to clean up most anything that gets past CJ Mosley or Daryl Smith (which is usually not much) has led to him being the 3rd leading tackler on the team so far in 2015.  He has a pick, a sack and 3 passes defended to go along with his 28 tackles.

Hill has had an eventful career.  A member of Florida's National Championship team in 2008, his college production declined to the point of going undrafted in 2011.  He signed with the Arizona Rattlers in the Arena League and played there for one season.  The NY Giants took a chance on him in 2012 and regretted it nearly immediately.  A string of suspensions for violations of the league's substance abuse policy (Adderall first, others later on), arrests for failing to pay child support, warrants for the same, were all interspersed with some brilliant, game changing plays on the field.  The Giants waived him in 2014.  Desperate for secondary help in 2014, the Ravens signed him.

The change seemed to do him good.  He told the Baltimore papers in December 2014 that he had made a lot of changes in his personal life, had stopped going to clubs, and was trying to be a better family man.  The Ravens signed him to a 2-year extension last August worth nearly $7 Million.  His play so far in 2015 suggest that Ozzie Newsome made a good investment.

Honorable Mention

Daryl Smith (LB - #51) If Daryl Smith had played somewhere other than Jacksonville for the first 8 years of careers and then not played next to Mosley, Suggs, and Dumervil since 2013, he would probably be a lot better known.  Here is your bar bet (good through Sunday, at least); Smith leads the Ravens in tackles through the first 7 games with an astounding 41 solo take downs and 28 assists.  (Mosley is second with 30.)  Those of you that remember Takeo Spikes can probably understand Smith's game.  A tough veteran that will tackle ANY and EVERY one coming between the tackles.  His steadiness in the middle permits Mosley to freelance and wreak havoc.