Ravens Questions Still Left Unanswered


Ravens training camp officially ended last Friday with the final day of practice in Philadelphia.

Outside of a few weeks in July, the Ravens have been working straight since the start of May, when the rookie class first reported for duty.

But throughout all that work, there are still some questions left unanswered. Saturday night's game against the Washington Redskins, widely considered the starters' final dress rehearsal, may be the final opportunity to get answers before Week 1.

Here's what's at the top of the list:

Who will be the returners?

The Ravens parted ways with former Pro Bowl returner Jacoby Jones on February 25. Just more than six months later, it's still unclear who will replace him. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro seemed to be the leader on punt returns, but he's dealing with another soft tissue injury. Rookie wide receiver DeAndre Carter was getting a look on kickoffs, but he's muffed two kicks in the preseason. Cornerback Asa Jackson now seems to be the leader on both punts and kickoffs, and the Ravens have their "aces in the hole" on punts with veterans Steve Smith Sr. and Lardarius Webb.

What's the pecking order at wide receiver?

Smith is the leader of the wide receiver corps. That much is sure. Who will be starting opposite Smith? And what's the pecking order? Rookie first-round pick Breshad Perriman seemed to be the other starter before he hurt his knee and missed nearly all of training camp. It's unknown what kind of form he'll be in by Week 1. Kamar Aiken has mostly lined up opposite Smith, but hasn't made as many plays in the latter part of camp as he did at the start. Marlon Brown has been on and off the field due to injuries and Campanaro has also been hurt.

Is the secondary improved?

The biggest area of focus this offseason was improving the secondary, especially with depth, after injuries took their toll on the unit last year. Baltimore added free safety Kendrick Lewis and cornerback Kyle Arrington and have been pleased with both in practices. Lewis, however, got the lowest rating (negative-3.1) of all Ravens defenders in the second preseason game in Philadelphia, per Pro Football Focus. Injuries are already rearing their ugly head as cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring) has missed both preseason games and a week of practice. The secondary didn't face Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees in the first preseason game and had trouble with the Eagles offense in the second preseason contest. Saturday's third game against the Redskins will be big for the unit.

Run defense fine without Ngata?

The Ravens traded Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions this offseason, banking on the potential of 2014 second-round pick Timmy Jernigan to fill the gap. Jernigan has flashed his great potential, and was practically camping out in the Eagles' backfield, during two practices in Philadelphia. But he has continued to deal with injuries, which also plagued him during his rookie year. The run defense also surrendered a pair of touchdowns to the Eagles in the first quarter Saturday evening, and Harbaugh pointed to that aspect of the game as needing improvement.

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