8 Ravens Who Will Factor into Position Battles
The Ravens are still three months away from their first preseason game, but competition for roster spots and starting jobs is already underway.
Baltimore's offseason workouts have been going on for the last month, and this time is important in deciding who the Ravens will ultimately keep on their roster when the 2017 season begins.
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec pointed out eight Ravens "who aren't getting much attention but figure to be factors in position battles."
RB Buck Allen
After a promising rookie season, Allen had a significantly diminished role last year. He ended last season behind Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon on the depth chart, and the addition of Danny Woodhead only makes his path to the roster more challenging. "With Dixon suspended for the first four games, Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro and undrafted rookie Taquan Mizzell might be competing for one roster spot," Zrebiec wrote. "Allen is the favorite to seize it, but he needs to run with far more decisiveness than he showed in games and practices last year."
CB Maurice Canady
The Ravens have made significant investments in the secondary this offseason by signing cornerback Brandon Carr and safety Tony Jefferson, and drafting cornerback Marlon Humphrey in the first round. Playing time will be tough to come by for Canady, but Zrebiec says "the Ravens really like Canady" and "he should contribute on special teams, and he'll be an option to step in at either corner or safety."
TE Crockett Gillmore
A litany of injuries held Gillmore back last season, and the Ravens have a crowded tight end group. But he has shown potential when healthy, and Zrebiec says "Gillmore might be the best two-way tight end the Ravens have if he's healthy."
WR Chris Matthews
Almost all the discussion about Baltimore's receiving corps is whether it will soon include a free agent like Anquan Boldin or Victor Cruz. Zrebiec believes Matthews could end up being a piece of the equation. "Remember Matthews, the former Seattle Seahawk who had a breakout performance in Super Bowl XLIX with 109 receiving yards and a touchdown? Matthews spent last season with the Ravens on injured reserve, but he remains on the roster. Depending on how the front office's elongated search for a proven pass catcher turns out, he could get an opportunity to earn one of the final receiving spots," he wrote.
LB Albert McClellan
The veteran defender has played both inside and outside linebacker throughout his career, and Zrebiec believes that with the Ravens "suddenly well stocked on the outside, McClellan could enter the equation as a potential replacement for Zachary Orr at weak-side linebacker."
ILB Patrick Onwuasor
Baltimore has a long track record of undrafted inside linebackers playing prominent roles in the defense. Could Onwuasor be the next in the group? "He'll be in the mix with [Kamalei] Correa and possibly McClellan for the starting job next to C.J. Mosley," Zrebiec wrote.
OLB Za'Darius Smith
Drafting Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser has brought some new blood to the outside linebacker group. Smith had just one sack last season, and he's in a tight competition for playing time. "The Ravens will find ways to get their top pass rushers onto the field, but Smith will need to earn those snaps with a productive summer," Zrebiec said.
DE Brent Urban
Defensive end Lawrence Guy left for New England in free agency, opening a starting job on the defensive line. "It seems the consensus is that third-round picks from the past two drafts, Bronson Kaufusi and Chris Wormley, are the likely candidates to replace Lawrence Guy in the starting five-technique defensive end spot. However, Urban could have something to say about that," Zrebiec wrote.
Joe Flacco's Mom Opens up About Him in ESPN Segment
With Mother's Day over the weekend (Happy Mother's Day, mom!), ESPN put together a unique segment with the moms of six players talking about what it's like to be the mom of an NFL star.
Joe Flacco's mom, Karen, was featured, and she opened up about Baltimore's franchise quarterback. The moms discussed the challenge of hearing criticisms of their sons in the media, and Karen pointed to the common discussion point of Joe's personality.
"Everybody wants to change him," she said. "Everybody wants him to be that rah-rah, yeah-yeah, get-in-your-face, yell, scream, everything. He's never going to be that guy. It's just not going to be him. It's not who he is."
Flacco's mild-mannered temperament has been debated since he came into the league in 2008. Fans and media often point to it as a positive when Flacco is calm and effective under pressure. But he seems to get criticized for the same traits whenever the Ravens lose or he doesn't play a great game.
Karen said her son's personality goes back to lessons they instilled in him as a child.
"He thinks things through before he reacts," Karen said. "My husband always told him, 'Joe, you're the quarterback. You're the CEO of the company. The CEO should act like this, not like this.' And that's how Joe acts."
Joe is the oldest of six kids, and Karen said the rule in their house was that he had to wait until sixth grade to play football because it was a big cost and time commitment. When Joe did get on the field, it quickly became clear that he was meant to play quarterback, and Karen even provided some great baby footage of Joe getting a football for Christmas.
"We knew he could throw the ball," Karen said. "We knew he was going to be a quarterback eventually."
The segment also featured the moms of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, Giants cornerback Eli Apple, Giants receiver Sterling Shepard and Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett.
Why Can't Baltimore Host the NFL Draft?
Philadelphia drew rave reviews for the job it did hosting the NFL Draft a couple weeks ago.
The Baltimore Business Journal's Digital Editor Jonathan Munshaw attended the draft, and the experience got him thinking about one day having the event in Charm City.
"Baltimore should look closely at what Philadelphia did, and consider hosting a future draft of its own," Munshaw wrote. "Who's to say a stage couldn't be erected right outside M&T Bank Stadium, and the Ravens' Walk used as the gathering place for fans and the extra attractions."
Hey, I like the sound of that.
After holding the draft in New York City for decades, the NFL has taken the event to Chicago and Philadelphia the last few years. No location has been announced for the 2018 draft, but Dallas recently submitted a formal bid to host it.
Hosting a draft brings a jolt of money and energy into a city, and while Munshaw acknowledges that "getting the draft to Baltimore is probably easier said than done," he thinks it's worth a shot.
"The blueprint put forth by Philadelphia should be copied by cities all over the country."