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As the Ravens take the practice field for the first time in nearly four months with this weekend's mandatory minicamp, there are several storylines that will begin to unfold over the next three days.
BaltimoreRavens.com offers a few things you need to keep your eyes on as the 2010 campaign officially begins.
Battle for the Fourth ReceiverThere are several questions behind the top three receivers Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth.
By all accounts, Mark Clayton is scheduled to return to the team, and Demetrius Williams – if he can stay healthy – has a good shot to earn a place on the roster. The biggest dig against the two veterans is that neither contributes to special teams.
When you have a draft pick in David Reed, who is expected to help in the return game, and potential gunners in Marcus Smith, Justin Harper or a bevy of other young receivers, holding on to somebody that only plays on offense is not an easy decision.
Greeting the New Coaches
The Ravens have three new coaches at key positions – Jim Zorn, Dean Pees and Ted Monachino – and this will be the first time they all interact with the full team.
It will also be the first time Head Coach John Harbaugh has hired official position coaches from outside the organization since hiring his original staff in 2008 (Greg Mattison was promoted from within to Defensive Coordinator, Al Saunders joined as a consultant, Jason Brooks's title is Assistant to the Offense and Matt Weiss' is Head Coach's Assistant).
The relationships in position meeting rooms are critical for team chemistry, so Zorn, Pees and Monachino have a big weekend ahead of them.
Flacco 3.0Where can the young quarterback take the offense in his third season? Now that he has a stable of pass catchers that can rival any offense in the NFL, it's going to be up to Joe Flacco to lead the Ravens into an explosive promised land.
Should Flacco get on the same page early with his receivers, Baltimore could be looking at an offensive juggernaut instead of just the typical defensive stopper.
Second-round draft pick Sergio Kindle was touted as one of the top pass rushers in the Class of 2010, and he will likely be thrown into the fire.
Expected to back up Jarret Johnson at the "SAM" linebacker position, Kindle's size and speed are perfect for a Ravens'* *defense that loves hybrids.
And, with Monachino and the tough-as-nails Johnson serving as mentors, Kindle will get a crash course in the Ravens' biggest focus this offseason.
Mt. Cody's Conditioning
The Ravens' other second-rounder, Terrence Cody, has battled weight issues throughout his career. He reportedly weighed in upwards of 370 pounds at the Senior Bowl, but has since slimmed down to about 350.
His 6-foot-4 frame can handle the weight, but the Ravens might want him to drop even more. His conditioning and build will be closely scrutinized by the media once he arrives on campus.
Fabian and LardariusThe cornerback duo is rehabbing from knee injuries that derailed their 2009 campaigns, so it is important to note how much work they get in practice – if any at all.
Fabian Washington seems to be ahead of Lardarius Webb, as far as recovery goes, but that is mainly because he suffered his injury in Week 11. Webb's came in Week 15.
Which Tight End Emerges?
The two newest Ravens tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, are each about 6-foot-4, 245 pounds and share a similar skill set.
It would be a luxury if the rookie pair broke out this offseason, but at least one must step up to be Todd Heap's primary backup. How fast either Dickson or Pitta adjust to the pro game will be telling to their 2010 role.
Even though Gaither's name has been included in trade rumors, those finally seem to be blowing over. Still, it would not be surprising if Oher got some reps on the left side in this minicamp, with either Gaither or Oniel Cousins filling in at right tackle.
Calling KickersThe Ravens have made no secret about the want to bring in another kicker to compete with Billy Cundiff. The only thing is that it hasn't happened yet. No kicker was drafted and up to this point, no free agents have been signed.
Baltimore could be waiting until another kicker gets cut this offseason, but if Cundiff is the only kicker on the field this weekend, he'll have the early upper leg by default.
While fullback is not necessarily a position where all NFL teams need depth, it would be nice to have another fullback that can play special teams on the roster. That might come down to a rookie free agent, the list of which hasn't yet been released.