After a week of training camp, a common point of concern brought up by media and pundits is the status of the secondary.
The team has to replace cornerback Corey Graham after he left in free agency, and starting cornerback Lardarius Webb has also been sidelined with a back injury. The Ravens have a group of young, unproven players vying for the No. 3 cornerback spot, and potentially even a starting job if Webb is out for an extended period.
There's an opportunity, and Pees wants somebody to seize it.
"Somebody has to rise to the top," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. "The cream has to rise to the top and somebody has to take the job, and I don't know right now who that is."
The top candidates for the No. 3 cornerback job behind Webb and Jimmy Smith are Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson, who have both worked with the first-team defense during camp. Brown entered training camp as the apparent leader in the race, but he has struggled during the first week while Jackson has come on strong.
"Asa is really competing," Pees said. "He's having a real, real good camp."
While the No. 3 spot is still up for grabs, the certainty for the Ravens is that Smith and Webb will both be in the starting lineup as long as they are healthy. Smith has been consistent during training camp after a strong 2013 campaign, and Webb is one of the team's best defenders when he's on the field.
But Webb hasn't practiced since July 25 as the Ravens are being cautious with his back injury.
"I feel pretty good about Jimmy Smith on the one side, and then there's a lot of competition over on the other side," Pees said. "Right now I couldn't tell you who that is."
In addition to Brown and Jackson, the other cornerbacks in the mix are undrafted rookies Tramain Jacobs, Deji Olatoye and Sammy Seamster. Former Falcon Dominique Franks and recently-signed Arena Football League corner Marrio Norman are also in the mix.
The competition for playing time will likely last throughout the preseason, as Pees indicated that the Ravens will give the young corners plenty of chances during those four games.
"That's the great thing about the preseason," he said. "We get an opportunity to evaluate them. We may do some things that I may not normally do in a game just to put those guys out there and see what they can do. This is the time to experiment and see if they can do it, and not when the season starts."