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SUPER BOWL: Profiles of key players

Thursday - 1/31/2013, 8:00pm  ET

AP Pro Football Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Projected starters and key players for the Super Bowl:



Joe Flacco, QB (5), 6-6, 245, 5th season, Delaware

Holds NFL record by leading team to playoff wins in first five pro seasons ... Has eight touchdowns and no interceptions in this postseason ... Is 8-4 in playoffs ... Outplayed top draftee Andrew Luck, then Peyton Manning, then Tom Brady in leading Ravens to Super Bowl

Ray Rice, RB (27), 5-8, 212, 5th season, Rutgers

The hub of the Ravens' offense throughout his career ... Rushed for 1,143 yards and nine TDs, caught 61 passes for 478 yards ... Has two TDs in postseason ... Threat to break long gains on runs or screen passes.

Bernard Pierce, RB (30), 6-0, 218, 1st season, Temple

Complementary back who has come on in last two months ... Gives Rice a breather, but doesn't give one to defenses ... More powerful than Rice, not as shifty or quick ... Had 532 yards rushing during season, 169 in playoffs (6.3 average)

Vonta Leach, FB (44), 6-0, 260, 9th season, East Carolina

All-Pro fullback ... One of best blockers in league, unafraid to take on anyone ... Can sneak out of backfield for receptions, too ... Occasionally will run ball in short-yardage situations.

Anquan Boldin, WR (81), 6-1, 223, 10th season, Florida State

Helped Arizona to 2009 Super Bowl and has been sensational in this postseason ... Has 16 receptions for 17.3-yard average and three scores, two in AFC title game ... Powerful, versatile and can outleap defenders for balls ... Made 65 catches for 921 yards and four TDs this season.

Torrey Smith, WR (82), 6-0, 205, 2nd season, Maryland

Dangerous deep threat with superior speed ... Has improved his hands this season ... Has run past every secondary Ravens have faced in playoffs, making nine catches for 22-yard average and two scores ... Scored eight times in regular season.

Dennis Pitta, TE (88), 6-4, 245, 3rd season, BYU

Flacco's confidence in him grows each week ... Gets open over middle or outside and hangs onto ball ... Not used much as a blocker ... Has 10 receptions and two touchdowns in playoffs after 61 catches and seven scores in regular season.

Bryan McKinnie, LT (78), 6-8, 360, 11th season, Miami, Fla.

Line has solidified since he moved in and Michael Oher switched back to right side ... Huge, anchors well, has experience to handle most challenges ... Lost job earlier in season, but has performed strongly since returning to starting status in playoffs.

Kelechi Osemele, LG (72), 6-5, 333, 1st season, Iowa State

Tough spot for a rookie, but second-round pick started every game ... Anchors well, fundamentally sound for younger player ... Held off veterans to keep his position.

Matt Birk, C (77), 6-4, 310, 15th season, Harvard

Might be final game for longtime veteran of Vikings and now Ravens ... Locker room leader who joined Ravens in 2009 ... Six-time Pro Bowl center ... Has started 136 consecutive games.

Marshal Yanda, RG (73), 6-3, 315, 6th season, Iowa

Pro Bowl guard ... Missed one game this season, but started every game previous two years ... Versatile, equally adept as pass protector and run blocker ... Ravens like to run behind him inside.

Michael Oher, RT (74), 6-4, 315, 4th season, Mississippi

"Blind Side" subject who is far more comfortable on right side ... Can be overpowered at times, needs to avoid sloppy footwork that gets him beaten ... Has been steadier in playoffs, might be weak link up front for Baltimore.


Haloti Ngata, DT (92), 6-4, 330, 7th season, Oregon

Pro Bowler who can also play nose tackle ... Very strong and powerful ... A sacks threat when healthy, which he finally seems to be ... Had five sacks in 2012, missed two games (knee).

Terrence Cody, NT (62), 6-4, 349, 3rd season, Alabama

"Mount Cody," can be immovable force, but is inconsistent ... Much better mucking up middle against run than in passing situations ... Had no sacks and 25 tackles ... Often yields to backup Ma'ake Kemoeatu (96).

Pernell McPhee, DE (90), 6-3, 280, 2nd season, Mississippi State

Development slowed by thigh problem, missed four games, started only six ... Has been steadier in playoffs, won't make highlight plays ... Ravens like his work ethic, expect bigger things in future.

Paul Kruger, DE (99), 6-4, 265, 4th season, Utah

Had breakout season and has been among best defenders in playoffs ... Led team with nine sacks, has 2 1-2 in postseason ... Very disruptive and also can drop into coverage, although that's not his strength ... With Terrell Suggs getting healthier, Kruger doesn't get double-teamed as much.

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