Training Camp Breakdown: Inside Linebacker

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Left: LB Malik Harrison; Center: LB L.J. Fort; Right: LB Patrick Queen

In the Hunt

  • Otaro Alaka, 2nd season
  • Chris Board, 3rd season
  • L.J. Fort, 9th season
  • Malik Harrison, rookie
  • Patrick Queen, rookie
  • Kristian Welch, undrafted rookie

Projected Starters

The Ravens drafted Queen 28th overall, believing he could start immediately. That opinion hasn't changed during this unusual offseason. Queen has the versatility to be an every-down linebacker, and Ravens Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale mentioned recently that Queen learns quickly and doesn't repeat errors. If that continues once he takes the field during camp, Queen should start Week 1.

Third-round pick Harrison is a physical linebacker with the instincts and tackling ability to improve Baltimore's run defense. Even if he's not a three-down linebacker, Harrison may start next to Queen and give the Ravens' run defense more speed than last season. Fort started eight games last year, and will be prepared to do so again.

Best Battle

Fort won't surrender a starting spot without a challenge. He played consistently after being signed in Week 5 last year and earned a contract extension. Fort's experience is valuable, he's a savvy blitzer, and he gives the Ravens a reliable option if either Queen or Harrison aren't ready early. Having Fort in the linebacker room is a plus whether he starts or not.

Under the Radar

This camp should tell a lot about Board. He was in the running for a starting job during training camp last year, but he lost momentum following a preseason concussion. Board remained a consistent contributor on special teams, but he played just 6.5% of defensive snaps last season. It will be a challenge for Board to earn more action in his third season.

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