Late For Work 7/20: Top 10 Ravens Under Pressure Heading Into Training Camp

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Top 10 Ravens Under Pressure Heading Into Training Camp

Look, this is the NFL. It isn't nicknamed the "what have done for me lately" league for nothing.

Everyone is under pressure to perform. No one is immune. No one can escape it.

CSNBaltimore.com narrowed down a top 10 list of the Ravens most under pressure with training camp just around the corner. Rookies report Wednesday, injured players report Friday, and the whole crew will be here for the first practice on July 30.

Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka break down why each of the 10 Ravens below will be feeling the heat:

No. 10 Kyle Juszcyzk* *"The fullback position is becoming an endangered species in the NFL. Juszczyk is a capable blocker, with good hands as a receiver. However, Juszczyk's role in new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman's scheme has yet to be determined. Will Trestman utilize formations that incorporate Juszczyk more or less? It will be important for Juszczyk to find a niche in the offensive scheme." – Brown

No. 9 Crockett Gillmore*"Owen Daniels is gone, and Dennis Pitta's future remains very much up in the air. Second-round draft pick Maxx Williams has a lot of potential, but he is still learning the ropes as a rookie. If Gillmore wants to be a starter in the NFL, the time to prove it is now." – Smolka No. 8 Will Hill *"[Hill needs to] continue to stay out of trouble, and let his talent take over. Hill is a physical specimen who looks more like a linebacker than a safety. He's a punishing tackler with range, and could add and an intimidating presence to the Ravens' secondary. Hill played his best football toward the end of last season, as his comfort level in the Ravens' defense grew. Basically, the Ravens hope picks up where he left off last season. … For Hill to start, he'll have to outperform Elam in training camp and during the preseason." – Brown

No. 7 Chris Canty* *"Canty missed five games with injuries last year, and he turns 33 in November. He was released by the Ravens this offseason, then re-signed about three weeks later to a new, two-year deal that includes a cap figure of about $1.7 million this year (but jumps to about $2.9 million in 2016). The Ravens have younger, cheaper options along the line, including 6-foot-7 Brent Urban, who impressed during OTA workouts. If the young linemen develop as the Ravens hope, what will Canty's role be?" – Smolka

No. 6 Eugene Monroe* *"Monroe's cap number of $7.7 million is the fourth-highest on the team, but he was among the lowest-rated left tackles in the league according to Pro Football Focus. CBS Sports columnist Pete Prisco declared Monroe the Ravens' most overrated player. … [H]e needs to stay on the field. Before last season, he had never missed more than one game in his five-year career, but then a knee injury and later an ankle injury derailed his season. Most important, he needs to protect Joe Flacco's blind side." – Smolka

No. 5 Asa Jackson* *"Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb are both expected to be healthy this year, and the Ravens went out and signed veteran cornerback Kyle Arrington. So the bar at cornerback should be much higher than it was last year, when it became a revolving door. … [Jackson] needs to show enough consistent cover skills and physical play to warrant time in the secondary, ideally as a nickel back against slot receivers. At 5-foot-10 and 182 pounds he doesn't have the size to match up with tall receivers on the outside, but in the past, he has shown the athleticism to play bigger than his size. Jackson also needs to take advantage of every opportunity in the return game. He has had some dazzling returns in the past two preseasons. The Ravens will be looking for more of that, as the return job is wide open." – Smolka

No. 4 Michael Campanaro
"The team seemingly has openings at both receiver and return specialist, and second-year wide receiver Michael Campanaro should be a candidate for both. But he has been hurt for much of his brief NFL career, and he didn't help his cause when he suffered a quad injury in the first OTA workout this spring and missed all the rest. The receiver competition figures to be intense this camp, and while Campanaro was sidelined this spring, Jeremy Butler made catch after catch, and other receivers also did their best to make a good impression. At times last year it sounded as if coach John Harbaugh was losing patience with Campanaro and his injury history, so another injury this spring was not what the River Hill High School graduate needed." – Smolka

No. 3 Courtney Upshaw* *"Upshaw has seen fellow Ravens linebackers Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee fly the coop and land big-money paydays via free agency. Upshaw knows he could be next. But all three of those players put up some decent sack numbers, which tend to drive up the price, and that's not something Upshaw has done. … Upshaw needs to show he can be a three-down player and pass rusher. The Ravens have always liked him as an unheralded, edge-setting, run-stopper, and it would be a surprise to see him taken out of that role. But if Upshaw wants to be more of a factor in the passing game, he needs to show he has the stamina and the quickness to stay on the field on third down, fight off a block and get to the quarterback." – Smolka

No. 2: Breshad Perriman*"Perriman wasn't drafted in the first round to sit on the bench. He was drafted to be the team's primary deep threat as a rookie. The Ravens know Perriman has the speed. What's less certain is whether Perriman can overcome the drops that plagued him at times in college. The competition for playing time at wide receiver will be fierce, with Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken, Jeremy Butler, Michael Campanaro, and others battling for playing time opposite Steve Smith. Perriman will be pushed to earn whatever he gets." – Brown No. 1: Matt Elam *"When the general manager publicly calls you out, you better believe the pressure is on. And Ozzie Newsome could not have been more direct when he declared at the 'State of the Ravens' news conference: 'Matt Elam has to be a better football player for us next year. He has to be.' The Ravens have seen two years' worth of uneven play from their 2013 first-round draft pick, and it's pretty clear they are tired of that, and want and expect more from him." – Smolka

Harbaugh Ranked No. 3 Among NFL Head Coaches

Lots of outlets rank NFL head coaches, and a trend is developing with John Harbaugh. He's consistently listed in the 2-5 range, which seems fitting for a coach that consistently gets his team to the playoffs no matter how much transition there is on the roster.

I've never seen him beat out Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, which continues to be the case in this NFL.com ranking by Elliot Harrison. Harbaugh is also edged out of the No. 2 spot by Seattle's Pete Carroll, in part, because of Carroll's back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.

Here's why Harbs is No. 3:

"Harbaugh's run in Baltimore rivals that of the best coaches of all time," Harrison wrote. "While it might be hard to think of him in such lofty terms, consider that the Ravens have made the postseason in six of Harbaugh's seven seasons at the helm, nabbing a Lombardi Trophy in the 2012 season, to boot. He's also 10-5 all-time in the playoffs."

Rex Ryan Jumps Out Of Plane Over Niagara Falls

Oh, how I miss Rex Ryan.

It's not enough to wish he got the Ravens head coaching job in 2008 (while Harbs is No. 3 on the list above, Ryan is No. 19), but I miss his hilarious antics. And he's topped himself with this one.

The former Ravens defensive coordinator, who's now the head coach in Buffalo, jumped out of an airplane from 12,500 feet and dropped into the 2015 Thunder of Niagara Airshow.

Projecting Justin Forsett's Catches In 2015

In his breakthrough season, running back Justin Forsett saw a good amount of passes come his way. By season's end, he notched 44 for 263 yards.

But with Marc Trestman calling the shots, NumberFire.com sees that number increasing. Trestman has a tendency to throw more to his running backs, as demonstrated by his backs recording 69 or more receptions seven times during his NFL tenure as a play caller.

The lead pass-catching backs in Trestman's offenses have amassed 72 receptions for nearly 600 yards on 94 targets each season, on average.

"Based on this history, it shouldn't surprise anyone to hear that Forsett and the other running backs' roles on check-down and play-action passes this year will be critical to the offense," wrote Number Fire's Joseph Juan. 

"Our projections peg him for roughly 55 catches, but a full-on Trestman barrage could see that total climb even higher. If we extrapolate Forte's recent increases onto Forsett's numbers from 2014, we see that his numbers project out to 72 receptions for nearly 400 yards on 93 targets for 2015. While 72 receptions is nothing to sneeze at, as we discussed earlier, this is exactly in line with the average production of a Trestman-system running back."

Fifty-five to 72 receptions for Forsett? That would have made him the second-leading receiver on the roster last year behind Steve Smith Sr. (79) and ahead of Torrey Smith (49).

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