by: Ashley Anderson
Recently, the Baltimore Ravens have been putting more emphasis on health and fitness as a way of cutting down on wear and tear injuries late in the season. It goes without saying that all football players are naturally great athletes, but the Ravens have several stand-out guys who are in fantastic shape year-after-year. Without further ado, here are the top-five athletes on the Ravens' current roster.
5.) Keenan Reynolds - Drafted in the sixth round out of Navy, Reynolds is a long-shot to make the 53-man roster, yet he is undoubtedly among the top athletes who are currently on the team. Reynolds played quarterback in college, but Navy ran a triple-option offense, often calling upon him to run the ball. Typically finding himself in open space thanks to his tremendous speed, Reynolds found the end zone more than any player in FBS history, compiling 88 rushing touchdowns. Under Marc Trestman's direction, Reynolds could be an offensive weapon unlike any the Ravens have had before, and he has the potential to be the starting punt and kick returner. Given his innate abilities, Baltimore will want to find some place to stash the QB turned receiver.
4.) Joe Flacco - At six-foot-six, 245-pounds, Flacco has been the picture of strength and durability under center since Baltimore selected him in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Before an unfortunate encounter with one of his own linemen knocked Flacco out of the last six games in 2015, he was on a streak of 122 consecutive regular season starts, and he appears well on his way to beginning a new streak this year. Well known for his deep ball accuracy, Joe Cool can unquestionably make all the throws, and his scrambling ability is often overlooked. See below:
3.) Brandon Williams - One of the reasons why Haloti Ngata is wearing Detroit blue is because the addition of Brandon Williams in 2013 made Ngata expendable. Standing in at six-foot-one, 335-pounds, Williams may not come across as athletic because of his large build, but he is a beast of a man. Before he made it big in the NFL, Williams spent his summers cleaning port-a-potties that he could reportedly lift onto a truck without assistance. He had 38 bench press reps at the 2013 Scouting Combine, and he has since used that brute strength to evolve into an elite nose tackle. After starting 30 games over the last two seasons, Williams has become a pillar on the Ravens defense.
2.) Steve Smith Sr. - Number 89 has only spent two seasons in Baltimore so far, but his impact on the franchise will be talked about for a long time to come. The 15-year veteran dares opponents to underestimate him, and then he brutally punishes them for making that mistake. Prior to tearing his Achilles, Smith Sr. was on pace for well over 1,000 yards last season, something not many 36-year-old players will ever be able to say. Now, at 37, he is planning to play one more NFL season as he returns from the devastating injury. If those things do not speak to his sheer athleticism, consider these numbers: 961 catches, 13,932 yards, and 76 touchdowns. Remember when people said Smith Sr. would only ever be a return man in the NFL? Yeah, so does he.
1.) Marshal Yanda - At six-foot-three, 305-pounds, the former third-round pick out of the University of Iowa has been giving defensive linemen nightmares since 2007. Widely regarded as one of the top offensive guards in the league, Yanda was the only Raven to make the NFL Network's Top 100 list this year, and it would not be a stretch to call him the best player on the roster, let alone athlete. As the anchor of Baltimore's offensive line, he not only provides excellent protection for Joe Flacco but also paves the way for the rushing attack. Having not missed a game since 2012, there is little doubt about Yanda's fitness, and he certainly embodies what it means to Play Like A Raven. Make sure you check out Yanda's Top 100 video below.