The Ravens coaching staff said throughout the offseason that competition for starting jobs would ramp up once players put on the pads.
That time has come, as this week the Ravens will open training camp, connected by Verizon.
The first full-team practice will take place Thursday, and then players will have the next month to prove they deserve roster spots and playing time.
Here are five position battles that will attract the most attention throughout camp:
Right Tackle: Rick Wagner vs. Ryan Jensen
Second-year lineman Rick Wagner is the favorite to win the right tackle job after a strong offseason, but he has to show he’s up to the challenge once practices get up to full-speed. His biggest competition will be second-year lineman Ryan Jensen, who has worked at right tackle and both guard spots. Fourth-year lineman Jah Reid will compete once he returns from a calf injury that held him out of offseason practices, and Kelechi Osemele also has the ability to slide out to right tackle. The Ravens will give Wagner an opportunity to win the job, but the front office could bring in some help if they want to add some veteran competition to the mix.
Inside linebacker: C.J. Mosley vs Arthur Brown
This will likely be one of the most high-profile position battles of the summer. First-round pick C.J. Mosley up against last year’s second-round pick Arthur Brown. The two young linebackers will compete for the weak-side spot next to veteran Daryl Smith. Mosley quickly caught onto the defense during the offseason and Brown also received rave reviews for his development over the last year. The Ravens haven’t drafted a player as high as Mosley since Haloti Ngata in 2006, and they expect for him to be an impact player on defense. That would suggest that he’s the favorite for the job. But Brown was also a high pick who came to Baltimore with loads of potential.
Free Safety: Darian Stewart vs. Terrence Brooks vs. Jeromy Miles
The free safety spot was locked down for a decade in Baltimore, but now the Ravens could have a new starter there for the second straight year. Matt Elam started at free safety last year, but he will likely play more of a strong safety role this season. Darian Stewart, Jeromy Miles and rookie Terrence Brooks will all compete to start alongside Elam in the back end of the defense. Stewart took the majority of the first-team reps throughout the offseason, but Brooks was a third-round pick who was a standout for Florida State’s national championship team. Miles is also a veteran who has proven himself on special teams and hopes to take on a bigger role this year.
No. 3 Cornerback: Four CBs Have A Shot
This spot is truly up for grabs. There doesn’t appear to be a clear frontrunner at this point, as Chykie Brown, Asa Jackson, Aaron Ross and Dominique Franks will all compete for the job. The Ravens signed Ross and Franks as veteran free agents after tryouts during minicamp, and they are the most experienced of the group. Ross has been a starter throughout his seven years in the NFL, but he’s returning from a back injury that ended his 2013 season after four games. Brown and Jackson are both home-grown players who have shown potential, but they will have to prove to coaches that they’re ready to take on elevated roles.
Backup Quarterback: Tyrod Taylor and Keith Wenning
It’s not often that a competition for a backup job draws many eyeballs, but there will be plenty of attention on quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Keith Wenning during camp. Taylor is a four-year veteran who has been Joe Flacco’s backup the last four years, but he is in the final season of his rookie contract and the Ravens drafted Wenning in the sixth round in May. Taylor is still the favorite for the job, but Wenning will push him for practice snaps. The Ravens have carried just two quarterbacks since 2010, but that could change this season if they want to keep Wenning as a developmental player.