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Heading into the first practice of training camp, BaltimoreRavens.com will offer previews of those positions that feature a tough competition, focusing on who will be fighting for playing time. Today, the quarterbacks take the spotlight.
Last offseason was unique at Ravens training camp. There wasn't a quarterback battle to discuss.
This offseason should be different, albeit not at the starting position spot, or likely not even at No. 2.
Joe Flacco has the starting position locked up barring any unforeseeable calamities. While no position has been formally given, recently-added free agent Marc Bulger (given that the passes his physical and his signing becomes official) will likely slide into the No. 2 spot.
Thus, the most heated competition (should both quarterbacks be with the team come July 27 when training camp opens) will be between Troy Smith and John Beck for the No. 3 signal-caller.
Here's a look at the competition as we head into the summer months:
Joe Flacco, 3rd seasonWhat He's Done: Flacco led his team to the playoffs in his first two years in the league and drastically improved his stats last year, setting franchise records for completion percentage and quarterback rating.
What He's Going For: The starting job is Flacco's. He's looking to take the next step and has already said that 4,000 passing yards shouldn't be a problem. Taking the Ravens to the Super Bowl is the next step.
What He Needs To Do: Flacco has been working with quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn on improving his mobility and getting the ball out quicker. He also needs to get more efficient in the red zone.
Marc Bulger, 10th seasonWhat He's Done: Bulger has been to two Pro Bowls and helped the Rams get to the playoffs three times. He has been battered the past three years, however, and seen his quarterback rating go from 92.9 in 2006 to 70.7 last season.
What He's Going For: It's not that Bulger has to prove he's worthy of the backup gig. It's more the other way around. He's trying to show he can handle not being the starter for the first time since 2002, that he can be a valuable security blanket.
What He Needs To Do: The veteran has to prove he's healthy coming off a leg injury that ended his 2009 season early. He'll also have to learn Cam Cameron's offense and gel with the Ravens' receivers in a short amount of time.
Troy Smith, 4th seasonWhat He's Done: After starting two games as a rookie, Smith has backed up Flacco for the past two years. But he hasn't been called on much, as he saw action in four games last year.
What He's Going For: Smith asked for a trade during the regular season but recently said he wants to learn from Bulger and compete in Baltimore. Smith will likely be aiming for the No. 3 job, but would still like to prove he's good enough to be a starter or at least backup, whether in Baltimore or elsewhere.
What He Needs To Do: The first key to staying Baltimore is to distance himself from those trade talks, which Smith has done. Secondly, he needs to outperform Beck. Smith said he's been mostly working on is his accuracy and decision-making.
John Beck, 4th SeasonWhat He's Done: Beck wasn't active for any games in his first season in Baltimore last year. He hasn't played since starting four games as a rookie in Miami.
What He's Going For: A roster spot. Beck was the furthest down the totem pole last year, so the addition of Bulger naturally puts him on thin ice if Smith isn't traded.
What He Needs To Do: Stand out at practice. Beck felt he was gaining more of an understanding of Cam Cameron's offense now entering his second year. He's got to show that and more on the field.