Baltimore's weight room will be a busy place this week.
Players will return Tuesday for the start of the voluntary offseason conditioning program, and here are a few questions to consider:
How will the players respond to the new program?
The Ravens made a change in the strength and conditioning program this offseason by giving Director of Performance Steve Saunders the keys. He's altered the look of the weight room by removing several machines, and the entire program will take on a different feel compared to previous years. Saunders was on staff last year and worked closely with several players like safety Eric Weddle and quarterback Joe Flacco, and now he'll run the entire program.
What are Joe Flacco's thoughts about offseason moves?
Baltimore's franchise quarterback hasn't talked with the media since the season ended, but he is scheduled to meet with reporters Wednesday afternoon. The Ravens have lost some key pieces on offense, including starters at receiver, fullback, right tackle and center, and it will be interesting to hear what Flacco says about the current state of the offense.
What tone will the players set after coming so close to the playoffs?
The offseason workouts are the first step to setting the tone for the upcoming season. Even though the actual games are still five months away, the work over the next several weeks help build the foundation for training camp and the regular season. Players certainly didn't forget how close they came to making the playoffs last year, and their focus will be finding a way to take the next step this season.
How will the new players acclimate to the locker room?
The Ravens have undergone a significant roster overhaul during the last couple of months. Key players like receiver Steve Smith Sr., outside linebacker* *Elvis Dumveril, right tackle Rick Wagner and center Jeremy Zuttah are all gone, and the Ravens have brought in some new pieces to help them get back into the playoffs. Safety Tony Jefferson, cornerback Brandon Carr and Danny Woodhead are all expected to play significant roles for the Ravens, and the next few weeks will be vital.
Which young players will return in impressive shape?
Head Coach John Harbaugh regularly says players shouldn't wait for the voluntary offseason workouts to start their training, and the first week of the program will be an indicator of who's been working hard the last few months. Baltimore is counting on several young players to step into larger roles this year, and Harbaugh specifically said during the pre-draft press conference that he's eager to see second-year linebacker Kamalei Correa. "I'm really looking forward to seeing him coming back [in] April and see how he looks, see how he's been working and where his head's at and everything," Harbaugh said.