Biggest Ravens Storylines Heading Into OTAs

WR Rashod Bateman

The Ravens began OTAs this week and will have a Wednesday practice that is open to the media.

Here are some storylines to watch:

Lamar Jackson

The 2019 MVP has been working away from the Under Armour Performance Center in South Florida and has been joined by several of his receivers. However, OTAs are voluntary. Should Jackson participate, it would provide him with an opportunity to work with a host of targets and rookie center Tyler Linderbaum, who was drafted to be the new starting center. Jackson is still a developing quarterback at age 25 and he missed five games last season. OTA reps could give Jackson a leg up on establishing timing with his new teammates and returning to top form.

The wide receivers

After trading Marquise "Hollywood" Brown to the Cardinals, the Ravens have given their young receivers a golden opportunity to seize a bigger role in the offense. Rashod Bateman, a first-round pick in 2021, has already embraced the challenge, saying that he believes this is “his time.” Bateman is expected to be the No. 1 receiver after catching 46 passes for 515 yards after missing the first five games of last season.

However, Bateman isn't the only target who will be expected to step up. Devin Duvernay, a Pro Bowl returner, has a window to become a consistent part of the passing attack after catching 33 passes for 272 yards last season. James Proche II (12 catches, 202 yards) and Tylan Wallace (two catches, 23 yards) could also earn more playing time, and help the Ravens determine whether they need to sign a veteran receiver before Week 1.

The Ravens also have some undrafted rookie targets with size looking to make the 53-man roster. The competition for reps and roles at the wide receiver position will be a storyline track throughout the summer.

Who gets reps at left tackle?

All-Pro Ronnie Stanley is recovering from his latest ankle surgery and the Ravens hope he will be ready by Week 1. However, how will reps be distributed until Stanley returns? Who will start if Stanley isn't ready in September?

Ju'Wuan James, Tyre Phillips and Patrick Mekari are all potential candidates to fill the void for Stanley until he returns. This offseason is particularly important for James, who missed last season with an Achilles injury, sat out 2020 due to COVID-19, and played just three games in 2019. OTAs could give the coaching staff valuable insight into James' progress and what the depth chart at left tackle looks like behind Stanley.

The loaded tight end corps

Nick Boyle never looked 100 percent after he returned from knee surgery last season, but he's had a few months to get healthier and his elite blocking ability is a key to Baltimore's attack. Meanwhile, the Ravens doubled-down in the draft by taking two tight ends in the fourth round – Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely. Both must prove they can contribute immediately, but they could find roles as rookies because the Ravens love using multiple tight end packages. The Ravens got their first daily look at Mark Andrews during OTAs in 2018, which began his NFL journey to becoming an All-Pro tight end.

The defensive line welcomes new and returning faces

The Ravens re-signed Calais Campbell and brought back Michael Pierce and Brent Urban, but veteran Derek Wolfe (back/hip) missed all of last season and the Ravens went into the offseason wanting to get younger up front. Plenty of young linemen who could use OTAs as a springboard into 2020, including Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington, third-round pick Travis Jones, Isaiah Mack and Khalil McKenzie.

Young cornerbacks getting up to speed

The Ravens drafted two fourth-round corners, Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams, who could earn playing time right away behind Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Brandon Stephens is also expected to play more corner than safety next season after the Ravens drafted Kyle Hamilton and signed Marcus Williams. The Ravens signed veteran Kyle Fuller on the first day of OTAs, so he'll try to get up to speed as fast as possible.

The talented new safeties

Rookie Kyle Hamilton is expected to play a large role in the Ravens' defense and will dive into OTAs after getting his feet wet in rookie minicamp. Meanwhile, Williams was Baltimore's biggest acquisition in free agency, and if he joins OTAs it will be his first time on the grass with his new teammates. The Ravens also still envision a big role for respected leader Chuck Clark.

Jordan Stout starts punter transition

The rookie has already created a buzz after being the first punter taken in the draft and being tabbed as the successor to Sam Koch who retired last week. In his new role as a special teams consultant, Koch wants to help highly-regarded Special Teams Coach Randy Brown develop Stout into “the best punter this league has seen.”

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