OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - The Baltimore Ravens will face a demanding schedule when they begin defense of their AFC North division title this fall - including eight games against playoff teams from last season.
The Ravens' schedule is statistically the fourth-toughest in the league as their opponents had a combined record of 134-122 last season, a .523 winning percentage.
"Every Sunday is tough," offensive tackle Michael Oher said. "You're going to have to come out the same way every Sunday, so get ready for your opponent."
The NFL's third-ranked defense from a year ago will need to have another strong campaign while breaking in a new starter in outside linebacker Paul Kruger, the top candidate to replace Jarret Johnson. The Ravens also have Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee competing at defensive end to replace Cory Redding, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts.
"It's a great opportunity for me," said Kruger, a former second-round draft pick who recorded 5 1/2 sacks last season as a situational pass rusher. "I couldn't ask to be in a better situation, so I'm going to be grinding as much as I can from here until August to prepare myself for camp as much as possible. I'm real excited."
Johnson, one of the most durable players in franchise history, signed a four-year, $19 million contract with the San Diego Chargers.
Before Johnson left, he imparted some of his knowledge of the game to Kruger.
"He taught me a number of things, mainly just how to be a student of the game and how to make yourself better in the classroom," Kruger said. "So, that's one thing that I'm going to take from him for sure. My main focus this offseason, is just grasping everything, understanding the defense through and through."
Jah Reid, a third-round draft pick last year who played sparingly as a rookie, has shifted from offensive tackle and is now ranked first on the depth chart at left guard.
"They told me to expect to be a starter, work to be a starter, expect to come in and play and work hard," Reid said. "That's what I've been doing."