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50 Words or Less: Top Roster Concerns As Ravens Go on Break

From left: T Morgan Moses and OLB Odafe Oweh
From left: T Morgan Moses and OLB Odafe Oweh

The NFL vacation season has started in the lull between minicamp and training camp.

That means about a month full of slow news days. Alas, here are my thoughts, all in 50 words or less:

1. In our latest episode of “The Lounge,” Garrett Downing and I talked about our levels of concern with outstanding questions about the team, categorizing them by green, yellow or code red. Maybe my glasses have a purple tint, but I don't have many worries with the roster.

2. The two yellow-level concerns are cornerback and outside linebacker. With both, Baltimore is currently in the position of relying on young players to emerge. Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo will need big seasons. At corner, the nickel position and pecking order behind Marlon Humphrey and Rock Ya-Sin are unclear.

3. We'll get a better read with pads on, but based on what I've seen so far, I'm buying Ojabo stock. The way he has practiced likely makes the Ravens feel fairly confident in what they'll get from their top three outside linebackers. A supplementary piece may be all that's needed.

4. Justin Houston, Calais Campbell and Tyus Bowser combined for 17 sacks last season. Can Oweh and Ojabo (four combined sacks last season), and a healthier Bowser, reach 17 sacks this year? I believe so. Plus, the Ravens will again be a team that gets pressure from many sources.

5. The Ravens know their starting cornerbacks, but the No. 3 is still a major question mark. Injuries have kept two top candidates, Jalyn Armour-Davis and Pepe Williams, out of practice. Could that role again fall to a safety/cornerback hybrid not named Kyle Hamilton? Ar'Darius Washington is someone to watch.

6. In today's NFL, one place you don't want to be thin is in the secondary. The Ravens have been there, done that, and they don't want to go back. They've been one of the league's biggest spenders in the secondary in recent years, and I expect their investment isn't finished.

7. Baltimore has $9.545 million in salary cap space, according to Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland. That doesn't rank high in relation to other teams but seems like a wealth of riches for Baltimore at this point in the year. It's enough to make another significant move. CB or OLB? Both?

8. Before minicamp, I wrote that I expect J.K. Dobbins to be “ready to roll.” Shift that to training camp. Finding a contract extension number that works for both sides seems challenging given all the factors. Ultimately, I think Dobbins practices Day 1 of training camp and balls out this season.

9. Baltimore's offense is loaded with talent, but all the starters haven't practiced together yet. With three division road games in the first five weeks, the Ravens need a fast start. And with more communication involved in Todd Monken's offense, they need to be on one accord from the jump.

10. Garrett and I had a (lengthy) debate about how much chemistry between quarterback and receiver matters. He thinks it's overrated. Perhaps the better word is trust, which Monken referenced last week. Lamar Jackson has long had it in Mark Andrews. Now's the time to develop it with more targets.

11. It's a great sign for rookie sixth-rounder Sala Aumavae-Laulu that he got the first-team reps at minicamp, which helped accelerate the talented blocker's development. But if I'm handicapping the left guard race right now, I still give veteran John Simpson the edge. John Harbaugh has been consistently complimentary of Simpson.

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