A week ago, Head Coach John Harbaugh said the 2016 season has begun.
The evaluation process is underway, and the remaining games this regular season are a prime opportunity for players – especially young ones – to show what they've got.
While Sunday's 34-14 loss to the Chiefs was another tough blow, here are five young players who stood out.
OLB Za'Darius Smith
Smith recorded his first sack since Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His sacks seem to come in bunches, as he had two against the Steelers and then two more against Kansas City. He has four on the season. Smith also made four total tackles for the second consecutive week and was rated as Baltimore's second-best (tied) defender Sunday with a plus-1.2 rating from Pro Football Focus (PFF). The fourth-round pick out of Kentucky has steadily improved his pass rush. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday that Smith has the potential to be a "dominate player in this league."
DE Brent Urban
Urban had a dramatic field-goal block in his first game, leading to the kick-six in Cleveland. Now he's starting to make his impact felt on defense. Urban notched his first career sack in which he simply overpowered the guard opposite him and pounced on quarterback Alex Smith. Urban notched five tackles the week before against Seattle, tied for the second most on the team. Urban saw fewer snaps against the Chiefs than Seahawks, dropping from 33 to 12 despite defensive end Chris Canty going on injured reserve last week.
WR Jeremy Butler
Lost behind Kamar Aiken's career day was yet another strong output by first-year wide receiver Jeremy Butler. Butler posted three catches for 60 yards, including an impressive 41-yard catch and run down the right sideline. Butler posted seven catches for 72 yards the week before against Seattle. After spending his entire rookie season on injured reserve, the undrafted Tennessee-Martin product is showing soft hands and good run-after-catch ability.
CB Jumal Rolle
The Ravens didn't go to rookie fourth-round pick Tray Walker as pundits expected. Instead, they used veteran Shareece Wright as a starter outside with Lardarius Webb in the slot and safety. But when Jimmy Smith went down with a thigh injury on the Chiefs' first drive, Rolle stepped in. He held his own, giving up just two catches for 15 yards, per PFF. However, he was targeted just twice as well.
KR/PR Kaelin Clay
Clay continues to look like the Ravens' returner of the future. After having a lot of turnover at that position throughout the year, Baltimore has found something in the sixth-round rookie, who they signed just more than a month ago. Clay had a punt return for a touchdown against the Browns in his second NFL game. On Sunday against the Chiefs, Clay's 39-yard kickoff return set up the Ravens' first touchdown drive. He later added a 17-yard punt return.