Five Storylines As Ravens Begin Training Camp

WR Marquise Brown

There's heavy anticipation for training camp as the Ravens welcome back fans to the Under Armour Performance Center and prepare for their first practice on Wednesday. Here are five storylines to watch:

How will the wide receiver depth chart shake out?

Drafting wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace and signing Sammy Watkins has upped the talent in the room and raised the stakes for the young receivers. Marquise "Hollywood" Brown has caught 15 touchdown passes over the past two seasons, and his role as a primary receiver is firmly established. But beyond Brown, opportunities for playing time and targets are up for grabs. First-round pick Bateman is an intriguing prospect, serious about his craft and confident in his ability. Watkins and Bateman both looked solid during minicamps, but a large group pressing for more playing time includes Devin Duvernay, Miles Boykin, James Proche II and Wallace. There's little doubt the Ravens have raised the talent level at wide receiver in their quest to make their passing game more explosive and consistent. Now they need to sort out how many and who to keep, and show they're going to take the offense to the next level.

How will the offensive line's biggest questions be solved?

The most obvious unanswered question is who will start at left guard. Rookie Ben Cleveland, Ben Powers and Tyre Phillips will all compete to start at left guard and the coaching staff will be looking for someone to clearly separate himself. The Ravens are also seeking depth at offensive tackle behind All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who was signed during free agency. Phillips will likely see reps at both tackle spots during camp, and could serve as a valuable backup swing tackle if he's ready for that role. Veterans Andre Smith and Michael Schofield are also competing for a roster spot at tackle.

How many rookies will earn playing time?

Bateman has looked the part of a first-round pick and Cleveland could start, but how many rookies will carve out important roles right away? First-round pick Odafe Oweh (31st overall) has intriguing potential as one of the top athletes in this year's draft. Oweh isn't just a pass-rusher. He has the quickness to create havoc as a run defender who can penetrate into the backfield, and the has he versatility to drop into pass coverage. If Oweh learns quickly, he could give Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale multiple ways to use him. The Ravens drafted fullback/tight Ben Mason (fifth round) because he was a bruising blocker at Michigan, but he must prove his value as a second fullback or third tight end. Defensive backs Brandon Stephens and Shaun Wade will be trying to carve their niche in a deep secondary, and rookie linebacker Daelin Hayes had strong minicamp practices. Meanwhile, there's always an undrafted rookie or two who makes a bid to make the 53-man roster, and safety Ar'Darius Washington could be that guy.

Who will be the No. 2 behind Lamar Jackson?

Baltimore has carried three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster for three straight seasons, but that could end. Trace McSorley and Tyler Huntley will wage an intense battle to backup Lamar Jackson. There's little separation between McSorley and Huntley heading into camp, and both young quarterbacks will spend every day trying to swing the competition in their favor. The Ravens will have some tough roster decisions to make at other positions, and there is no guarantee they will keep three quarterbacks if they determine more depth is needed elsewhere. McSorley and Huntley want to lock down the No. 2 spot, but they also want to secure a place on the team.

When will Stanley and Nick Boyle return?

Stanley and Boyle are vitally important to Baltimore's offense, Stanley as arguably the best left tackle in football and Boyle as perhaps the league's best blocking tight end. Boyle didn't give a specific timeline for his return last week, but he sounded upbeat about his progress. Head Coach John Harbaugh has indicated he expects Stanley to be ready for Week 1, but he was playing the best football of his career prior to his injury and his health remains crucial to the offensive line. Neither Stanley nor Boyle need reps in preseason games to get ready for the season, but it will be a welcome sight whenever they return to the practice field.

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