As Ravens training camp nears, let's take a look back at all the work put in during the strength and conditioning program, rookie camp, Organized Team Activities and minicamp.
Jimmy Smith Explains Why He Was Suspended Last Season
Cornerback Jimmy Smith spoke to reporters Tuesday for the first time since back-to-back painful days last December.
On Dec. 3, Smith tore his Achilles, ending his season during the Ravens' critical playoff push. On Dec. 4, the NFL announced it was suspending Smith four games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs.
The suspension didn't matter, other than taking money out of Smith's pocket, because Smith was able to serve it while injured. Still, Tuesday was the first time that Smith explained what happened.
Smith said he took some pre-workout supplements last year, though he's not sure which one, that were on the NFL's banned substance list.
"One year a supplement can be on the list and that same supplement you're taking can be banned the next year. That's how certain things happen," Smith said.
"You have to be conscious of what you put in your body and I should've been a lot more conscious of what pre-workouts I was putting in there and I got popped ... I was going to appeal it but when I tore my Achilles I just took it and went home."
There's an app that players can use to check what substances are banned, but Smith indicated that players often lean on their agents for help. Smith said he knows now that he has to do his "due diligence" to make sure he's complying with the rules.
"It's a mistake that's easily avoidable," Smith said. "I wasn't conscious of it and I didn't know. Obviously. I would never take a steroid or some PED. I don't need that type of stuff to play football."
Don't Forget About Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams
It's clear that the Ravens will need a lot from rookie first-round tight end Hayden Hurst, but fans shouldn't gloss over veterans Nick Boyle or Maxx Williams either.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said the two veteran tight ends are "doing very well" this offseason, and will also have a role in the receiving game – not just blocking.
The Ravens' reception leader the past two years have been tight ends (Benjamin Watson and Dennis Pitta). Boyle and Williams aren't going to challenge for that title this year, which is part of the reason Baltimore drafted Hurst and Mark Andrews.
With that said, Boyle caught 28 passes for 203 yards last season and Maxx Williams snagged 15 receptions for 86 yards and one touchdown.
"They're unique. Those two guys are big, strong guys. They're going to be at their best when you see them in there blocking people and being physical," Harbaugh said.
"With that said, they can catch the ball. Nick looks a little faster to me. Maxx has always been able to catch the ball, he has great hands in terms of adjusting and making catches. He's not the prettiest mover. He can blame his dad for that; his dad's a center. But he can catch the ball."
Ronnie Stanley: Offensive Line Has a 'Long Way to Go'
The position group with the most unknowns in Ravens training camp is, hands down, the offensive line.
The only known starters at this point are left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard Marshal Yanda, and Yanda isn't on the field yet because of offseason shoulder surgery.
As of now, the first-team offensive line (from left to right) has been Stanley, Alex Lewis, Matt Skura, James Hurst and rookie Orlando Brown Jr. Stanley was asked Wednesday where the offensive line is at in terms of its cohesion.
"I still think we have a long way to go," Stanley said. "We're still moving guys around and still building up that chemistry. But I'm very pleased with the progress that we've made up to this point."
Stanley said he's happy to have Lewis, a fellow 2016 draft pick, at left guard next to him. Lewis missed all last season because of shoulder surgery.
"It's great working with Alex," Stanley said. "He's a high-energy person. He's always coming in ready to work. It's been really fun."
Ravens Coaches Are Stressing Interior Pass Rush
While the Ravens defense was very solid last year, one area for improvement is in the pass rush, particularly from the interior.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and Matthew Judon led Baltimore in sacks with 11 and eight, respectively, but Baltimore got just five sacks from its down defensive linemen. Willie Henry had 3.5, Michael Pierce had one and Carl Davis split a sack.
Davis said coaches have been stressing improving the interior push this offseason.
"It's been heavily stressed," he said. "Guys go home, talk about it, watch other guys on other teams and how they pass rush. We enforce it a lot in practice with a lot of one-on-ones, flash and pass and run to pass [drills], so you can tell that's heavily enforced."