Ravens Training Camp Preview


Training camp officially begins on Wednesday when veterans report.

Before they do, let's look at some of the top issues heading in.

Here are five questions, five battles and five bubble players to watch:

5 Questions

1. Will Ed Reed participate?It appears likely that safety Ed Reed will be in attendance on the first day considering he was at the Under Armour Performance Center last Thursday. Reed also said he always planned on playing this season and intends on reporting to camp on time. Still, outsiders will have their doubts until they actually see Reed on field because of previous cryptic comments about retiring and playing.

2. How strong will the offense look?The Ravens offense sparkled during Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp with Joe Flacco under center. It will be interesting to see whether that continues now that the defense will be allowed to do more hitting. The unit has benefitted from a year's experience after infusing youth at receiver and tight end positions before last season.

3. Can the Ravens stop the run without of Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson?With full contact* *permitted, outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Courtney Upshaw will get their taste of setting the edge against the Ravens' running game. This is an essential ability considering the injury to Suggs. It will be the run defense's first challenge against a full-go offensive line. The Ravens also need to work on getting more pass rush with their leading sack artist out.

4. Is Flacco taking the next step?Perhaps no NFL player has* *been debated more this offseason than Flacco. It started with the quarterback's statement that he believes he's the best quarterback in the league (which is the attitude he thinks all signal-callers should have). It was widely considered that Flacco outplayed Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the Ravens' AFC championship loss, but he has yet to take his team to the Super Bowl. Coaches and teammates were impressed with him in practices earlier this summer. Will fans and media see a different Flacco in camp?

5. How's the offensive line coming together?A position group of concern among fans, the offensive line will be under a microscope during camp. It has to integrate* *new veteran Bobbie Williams and rookies Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie's waistline will also be monitored.

5 Battles

1. Jimmy Smith vs. Cary WilliamsOne of the best competitions will be for the starting cornerback spot opposite Lardarius Webb. With Williams out this summer after a hip procedure, Smith got all the first-team reps. But Williams says he'll be back for training camp, so this should heat up.

2. Bobbie Williams vs. Kelechi Osemele vs. Jah ReidThe starting left guard spot in the absence of Pro Bowler Ben Grubbs is a big hole to fill. Williams provides the Ravens an experienced, top-notch option that has given Baltimore fits over the years. He took the first-team snaps in minicamp, but he'll still have to win the job.

3. Jacoby Jones vs. Tandon Doss vs. LaQuan WilliamsAnquan Boldin and Torrey Smith will be the top two wide receivers. But who the third will be is still up in the air. Jones was signed this offseason and would give the Ravens another deep threat, but Baltimore's second-year duo of Doss and Williams are also strong contenders. Williams was impressive in OTAs and minicamp and Doss has great hands.

4. Bernard Pierce vs. Anthony Allen vs. Damien BerryRicky Williams was an excellent backup to Ray Rice last season. With him retiring, there are a lot of handoffs to be taken. Pierce, the third-round draft pick, showed his burst and understanding of the scheme this summer. Allen is last year's seventh-round pick, but he may be the leader heading in. Berry added bulk this offseason and has looked strong.

5. Billy Cundiff vs. Justin TuckerFormer Pro Bowler vs. rookie undrafted free agent. On the surface, it wouldn't look like much of a battle. But there's added pressure on Cundiff to come back and prove himself after the AFC championship miss. Tucker is confident, has a big leg and showed his clutch kicking ability at Texas.

5 Bubble Players

1. OT Ramon Harewood
Due to knee surgery in back-to-back years, Harewood has yet to play in an NFL game. He was on injured reserve for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. A big (6-foot-6, 340 pounds), raw prospect from small-school Morehouse, Harewood needs to first stay healthy, then show marked growth.

2. DT Ma'ake KemoeatuThe 10-year veteran has dropped more than 70 pounds to get in shape after spending last year out of football. The former Raven is also trying to prove he's all the way back after an Achilles injury ended his 2009 season. He played without it being fully healed in 2010 with Washington.

3. QB Curtis PainterThe Ravens kept a pair of quarterbacks the past two seasons, going with veteran Marc Bulger in 2010 and rookie Tyrod Taylor in 2011. With Taylor having the jump on the No. 2 job, Painter will have to either overtake him or the team would decide to keep an extra signal caller. That would provide the flexibility to give Taylor more snaps and take advantage of his* *scrambling ability.

4. WR Tommy StreeterThe Ravens have a great deal of depth at wide receiver, especially after undrafted rookie Deonte Thompson impressed in OTAs and minicamp. This year's sixth-round pick, Streeter will compete with Thompson, David Reed and LaQuan Williams.

5. CB Chykie Brown
Another position with great depth is cornerback. Webb, Smith, Williams and special teams ace Corey Graham are virtual locks. Danny Gorrer has been impressive, and it's unlikely the Ravens would risk losing their fifth-round pick in Asa Jackson. Brown, who was a fifth-round selection last year, spent most of his time on special teams.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content