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“It’s weird,” Ravens linebacker Albert McClellan air max 1 shoes said. “You ain’t got Unc sitting in the corner anymore, you know, keeping us on track. Or you ain’t got Reed keeping the DBs a little quiet even though they love to talk. It’s a little different.”We don’t think we can replace Ray Lewis. The only thing we can ask is to be the best person you can be.”Be yourself. Play your game. Ignore the pressure. What pressure? Anyone who has replaced a legend has heard all of these things before. They’ve also heard that legends can’t be replaced.It is the second week of training camp, and Michael Huff is sitting in an office at the Baltimore Ravens’ practice facility, showing off his Crocs. He’s telling a story about the first time he met linebacker Terrell Suggs, a man who lives like he plays, loud and fun. Suggs saw the Crocs at the Ravens’ minicamp earlier this summer and teed off. He told Huff he couldn’t understand how a grown man could wear Crocs, couldn’t believe he was seeing Crocs, and Huff just laughed. Huff knew then he knew before then that this is the place he’s supposed to be.Never mind that he’s making considerably less than he did last year at Oakland, or that he has been tabbed to replace Reed, a man Huff idolized when he was younger. Huff was so enamored by Reed’s game that three years ago, after a regular season finale game between the Raiders and Ravens, he sought Reed out and asked for his jersey. Reed peeled it off, and Huff framed it.”In my opinion,” Huff said, “Ed Reed is the greatest free safety to play the game.”Of course there’s pressure. Huff doesn’t care. He wanted to be here seven years ago, coming out of the University of Texas. His agent was talking to the Ravens a lot back then, and for a while it looked as if Huff and Reed might play together in Baltimore. But Oakland had a much higher pick and used it to grab Huff at seventh overall.

Huff would never say if his heart sank the moment he hoisted that silver and black jersey. In the NFL, you’re taught that parity means there’s always hope. But the kid who’d just won a national championship at Texas went 2 14 that rookie season. And in seven years, he’d have five head coaches, 76 losses and numerous position changes. Huff soldiered along, switching to cornerback when injuries hit the Raiders hard, believing that every year would be different.In March, the Raiders cut him in a salary cap move, giving Huff a chance at a new beginning. On the flight to Baltimore, it hit him as he was listening to his headphones. “I’m getting ready to sign with the defending Super Bowl champs,” he said to himself.”I’m 30, so in NFL terms, you’re getting up there. So this is my chance to win a Super Bowl.”Shortly after he signed, he texted Reed. He told him that he’d do his best to uphold his legacy. That won’t be easy. Reed has been to nine Pro Bowls, is a former defensive player of the year and air max 1 shoes shared leadership duties with Lewis, albeit in a much quieter way.Reed told him to be himself. Huff is a younger and faster than Reed, and he trains with former Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson in the offseason. But he has miles to go before he can even consider any comparisons to the future Hall of Famer.Huff has been in somewhat of a similar situation before. His rookie season, he replaced Charles Woodson. He knows the expectations are so much different now. He feels them every day, and it inspires him.”I love it,” he said. “His pictures are still on the wall up here, all of the plays he made when he was MVP. Every day, you see it, and you’re hungry. I want to get my picture next to his.”Jackson had more of a discerning eye for shoes. When he left for the Falcons back in March, Rams staffers cleaned out his two lockers and found more than 40 pairs of cleats and tennis shoes. They shipped each pair to Atlanta, knowing he probably wouldn’t wear most of them because they’re all are blue and gold. But maybe it’s a reminder for Jackson of where he’s been.

“Our whole room is doing a good job of trying to fulfill the role they have,” he said. “I surround myself with a lot of positive influences. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control, and work as hard as you can every day. That’s it.”The Ravens were jawing at each other from opposite sidelines during a training camp practice, and it was a great sign. Suggs, uber conscious of the nike air max 1 black gap in leadership left by Lewis’ retirement, has made a point to raise his voice even higher.On a hot August day, he chanted “We fight!” to the defense, and quarterback Joe Flacco thought that was funny. “What are you, a little league softball team?” he yelled back. They exchanged friendly verbal jabs, with Suggs inevitably making a comment about Flacco’s gigantic new contract. The players, and even the fans in the stands, laughed.This is their way of moving on without Lewis. As Lewis got older and a step slower, it wasn’t necessarily his play on the field that made him so valuable.”Ray empowered everybody to play above what they normally would play,” said Matt Stover, a longtime Ravens kicker who retired in 2011. “And he did that with his passion. So now that legacy is being passed down.”The shift in leadership really started months ago, in the drive to the Super Bowl, when others, most notably Flacco, took charge. Stover, who along with Lewis was one of the original Ravens back in 1996, could feel it when he visited the team facility recently. Suggs was different, Flacco was different, and so was Ray Rice. But the chemistry seemed the same.The defense has gone through significant change, but some offseason moves might actually make the Ravens better on that side of the ball than they were in 2012. They added linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who came from Denver after a fax machine snafu in the offseason, and Arthur Brown, a rookie linebacker from Kansas State. They added Smith, who air max london sale has fit seamlessly in three short months, already taking charge.

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