Questions Entering Mandatory Minicamp


The Ravens will hold their mandatory minicamp this week, giving the coaches three days to work with the whole team before training camp opens next month.

The entire roster is expected at the Under Armour Performance Center to participate in the workouts, and that means veterans like Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Marshal Yanda will be back in town to get on the practice field.

Here's a look some of the key storylines to follow for the week of minicamp:

How does Suggs look in his first week of practice?

The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year is looking to have a bounce-back season after battling through significant injuries in 2012. He's yet to get on the Ravens practice field this offseason, but he was noticeably leaner when he returned to Baltimore for the White House visit and Super Bowl ring ceremony last week. Suggs is heading into his 11th NFL season and is considered the new leader of the defense now that Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are gone. The Ravens are counting on Suggs to return to the form he showed in 2011, where he notched 14 sacks and seven forced fumbles.  The key in doing so will be to get back his explosiveness, which is sometimes lost after an Achilles tendon injury. Expectations are high for the five-time Pro Bowler, and this week will be the first chance to see him at work.

How do the rookies perform with all the veterans in attendance?

The rookie class has been given a dose of life in the NFL the last few weeks during Organized Team Activities (OTAs). Attendance has been strong during the voluntary workouts, but the rookies have yet to take the practice field with the full roster of veterans. How will first-year players like Matt Elam, Arthur Brown and Brandon Williams respond when Suggs is barking out commands on defense? Intensity ramps up when everyone is back in the building, and the rookies will get a better understanding of the expectations and competition they're going to face throughout the season.

How is Arthur Brown's mobility and grasp on the defense?

The second-round pick out of Kansas State was sidelined for two weeks of OTAs after having surgery to repair a sports hernia in early May. He returned to the practice field last week and part of the recovery process from that injury is to push through significant pain to break up scar tissue from the surgery. Will the injury slow him down during team drills? Also, reporters will keep an eye on the inside linebacker's mobility and knowledge of the defense after he had to miss about four weeks. Brown will challenge for a starting inside linebacker job this season and it will be important for him to make a quick recovery.

What rotations are used on the defensive line?

The Ravens made upgrading the defensive line a priority this offseason by adding versatile veterans Chris Canty and Marcus Spears to go along with Haloti Ngata, Arthur Jones, Terrence Cody and DeAngelo Tyson. Canty and Spears have practiced during some of the offseason sessions, and they should both be full-go for minicamp. It will be interesting to see how they are used and whether Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees has them working at multiple positions. The entire lineup won't be in action, as Ngata is still working his way back from a knee injury suffered in the Super Bowl and Cody hasn't practice yet because of offseason hip surgery. 

With Yanda back, how does the offensive line operate?

The veteran right guard is the anchor of the offensive line and has been one of the Ravens' best players over the last few years. With Yanda back in the rotation for this week of practice, the Ravens will be able to work together as the likely starting five – Bryant McKinnie (LT), Kelechi Osmele (LG), Gino Gradkowski (C)  and Michael Oher (RT). How does the group look in their first full week together? Assessing the offensive line play is always tough in minicamp when practice contact is limited, but this week will be a good chance to see the offensive line match up against the revamped defensive line.

Can the young receivers prove a veteran isn't needed?

The competition at wide receiver has been one of the most closely watched and highly-discussed topics throughout offseason practices. With Anquan Boldin's departure, the Ravens are looking for Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, David Reed, LaQuan Williams or Tommy Streeter to take on an increased role this year. The Ravens have yet to add a veteran wideout to the mix, and the three-day span of minicamp practice will be the final chance before training camp for the young receivers to show they're ready to step up in the offense. The competition at receiver will take center stage for the week of minicamp, as the group of unproven targets tries to separate from the rest of the pack.

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