Ravens Organized Team Activities (OTAs) kicked off Monday and the media will get its first look at the action Thursday.
With that in mind, here’s what eyes will be focused on at the voluntary workouts:
Attendance, especially from key veterans
The first thing reporters will do when they arrive on the practice fields will be to take attendance. OTAs are voluntary, but the Ravens have always had a strong showing. That doesn’t mean everybody is there, however. Veterans who have already proven themselves in the league and are accustomed to getting ready on their own sometimes sit out. They may not want to risk injury, or they have their own other reasons. Would the Ravens prefer that every player be there? Of course. But sometimes it’s a good thing to allow younger players more practice reps.
Lamar Jackson’s throwing
Perhaps the most important offseason storyline is the continued growth of quarterback Lamar Jackson. The offense is built around his skillset, and in order for it to thrive, it will need him to take the next step in his development. While there’s little doubt that the Ravens will be able to run the ball successfully this year with Jackson, Mark Ingram and Co., as well as Greg Roman’s creative schemes, Baltimore wants to see Jackson become more accurate as a passer. Jackson talked about his desire to improve his mechanics this year, and there will be a lot of attention put on that throughout the summer. This really marks the start of his offseason work with Ravens coaches in that regard.
Greg Roman’s new-look offense
One of the biggest changes that has flown under the radar is Roman taking over as the offensive architect and playcaller. The Ravens already shifted to his schemes midway through last year, but Roman and his staff built the offense “from the ground up” this offseason. Of course, the fundamental principles remain the same, but it will be interesting to see some new concepts and wrinkles.
Who’s emerging at linebacker
The losses of C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith have left job openings at inside and outside linebacker. The Ravens drafted Jaylon Ferguson and signed Pernell McPhee and Shane Ray, but for the most part, Baltimore will seemingly rely on young players to step into those gaps. That includes pass rushers Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser, as well as inside linebackers Kenny Young and Chris Board.
Wide receiver competition kicks off
The Ravens have retooled their wide receiver corps again, drafting rookies Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Miles Boykin and signing Seth Roberts and Michael Floyd. There are also young players waiting to emerge, such as Jaleel Scott, Jordan Lasley, Quincy Adeboyejo and undrafted rookies. Suddenly, a room that looked fairly sparse a couple months ago is jam packed with competition.
Mosley, Suggs and Eric Weddle were three of the defense’s biggest leaders. Other players will need to emerge this season, and that will likely start to show itself during OTAs. Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor, for example, already talked about wanting to be a more vocal presence.
Rookie class audition
Last year’s rookie class played a huge part in the Ravens’ 2018 division championship. This will be the first opportunity to see them on the field with the veterans, which will shed more light on how ready they might be to contribute immediately. Brown is still sidelined until training camp, but Ferguson, Boykin and others will be closely watched.