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10 Ravens Training Camp Questions


The Ravens veterans report for Ravens Training Camp connected by Verizon on Wednesday, and practice begins Thursday.

Here are 10 pressing questions to monitor throughout the four weeks of practices:

 1.       How polished will the offense become?

After the offense's sluggish performance last year and the hiring of new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak, most eyes will be focused on the unit. The team was installing the offense during organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp, all in preparation for seeing how fluid and fast it can become in training camp. If the Ravens want a quick start to the season against their AFC North foes, they need to get their offense clicking on all cylinders in camp.

 2.       What happens with Ray Rice, or other discipline?

One big piece of information that will affect the offense is whether Ray Rice will get an NFL suspension, and if so, for how long. If Rice is going to miss extended time, the Ravens could opt to give backups Bernard Pierce, Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett more practice snaps. The Ravens had five arrests this offseason, and the fallout from those will be a topic.

 3.       Will there be more player additions?

Head Coach John Harbaugh says every year that the Ravens are monitoring available free agents, and General Manager Ozzie Newsome has a track record of adding pieces late when opposing teams make cuts. The Ravens could look to add veteran support at right tackle, in particular, with a couple of second-year players competing for the starting spot.

 4.       How does the offensive line shake out?

The offensive line may be the unit under the closest watch. Last year, the Ravens ranked last in the NFL in average yards per carry and gave up the fourth-most sacks (48) in the league. The offensive line has a new anchor in the middle with center Jeremy Zuttah, who will be working on his communication with the others. The right tackle spot is the only position where the starter is more in question with Rick Wagner and Ryan Jensen as the primary contenders.

 5.       How will the younger, faster defense look?

It's flown under the radar, but Baltimore is on a youth surge on defense. Their top three draft picks the past two years have been on defense. Their hope, in part, was to get faster. Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan and safety Terrence Brooks are this year's crop, and they join second-year defenders in safety Matt Elam, inside linebacker Arthur Brown and defensive tackle Brandon Williams.

 6.       Who will make the team?

This is one of the biggest questions and reasons for training camp. It's about carving 90 players down to 53, which is a tough task. The Ravens should have some of their best competitions at wide receiver, cornerback, safety and offensive line. It's not all about determining who the starters are, but seeing if any undrafted rookies or backups can separate from the pack.

 7.       Will any rookies be able to start?

Mosley, Jernigan and Brooks seem to have the best shot at cracking the starting lineup. The Ravens haven't drafted a rookie as high as Mosley (No. 17 overall) since they took Haloti Ngata in 2006, and he became an instant starter. Mosley has been impressive thus far, but the true test will come once the pads are on. Jernigan is competing to replace Art Jones, and has flashed a quick first step thus far. Brooks has a shot at being the starting free safety, as he competes against veteran signee Darian Stewart and Jeromy Miles.

 8.       What impact does practicing with the 49ers have?

The San Francisco 49ers will be practicing with the Ravens for four days following their preseason game on Aug. 7. It will be interesting to see how that affects Baltimore. Harbaugh likes to say that "iron sharpens iron," and the two teams have a similar physical style. There's also history from their Super Bowl XLVII meeting. How will the two teams, and the brother head coaches, get along?

 9.       How does Steve Smith Sr. influence practice?

Smith is known for his intense practice habits and attitude, which the Ravens got to taste when he got into a scuffle with cornerback Lardarius Webb. Training camp is long and tiring, especially in Owings Mills. We'll get a chance to see how the newly-acquired Smith adjusts to the Ravens' grinding. He has already stepped up as a mentor to some of the younger Ravens, and could further entrench himself as a team leader during camp.

 10.   Can the Ravens stay healthy?

The Ravens were dealt a huge blow last year when tight end Dennis Pitta suffered a major hip injury during the team's first contact practice. While sometimes unavoidable, the Ravens will do everything possible to avoid that again. Left guard Kelechi Osemele's back, right guard Marshal Yanda's shoulder and running back Bernard Pierce's shoulder are all key recoveries to watch.

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