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Mailbag: Who Will Be the Backup Quarterback?

QB Tyler Huntley
QB Tyler Huntley

Mink: This is an under-the-radar training camp competition. As of now, I'd put Tyler Huntley in the lead, but it's obviously still ongoing. Huntley has taken most of the second-team snaps and been on the rise.

Snoop has been Jackson's backup for the past two years, and has a 3-6 record as a starter, including last season's playoff loss. Huntley has posted a 76.6 quarterback rating and seven interceptions to five touchdowns. His goal-line fumble in the Cincinnati playoff loss was particularly painful, but Huntley has also done a lot of good things on the field and is well-liked off it. He's given his team a chance to win.

In Greg Roman's run-heavy offense with a lot of designed quarterback runs, Huntley was the ideal backup to Jackson because he plays a similar style. However, in Todd Monken's more balanced attack, Huntley's running ability doesn't hold as much value. It's anybody's game.

The Ravens reportedly explored the free-agent quarterback market this offseason but didn't end up bringing in a big name. Johnson was added to compete with Huntley and second-year rising quarterback Anthony Brown, who saw some emergency duty last season.

Johnson's advantage is his eight seasons of experience in many different systems. If someone has to come into a game in an emergency situation, Johnson can do it (although his stats are no better than Huntley's). Johnson has, however, thrown several interceptions so far at training camp.

Huntley and Johnson got off to rough starts in training camp the first couple days, but Huntley has been sharper the past few practices. On Monday, he threw a beautiful long touchdown to Laquon Treadwell. It was one of the longer throws we've seen Huntley make, showing the shoulder soreness he dealt with last season is hopefully in the rear-view mirror.

Downing: First of all, I would be surprised if J.K. Dobbins' absence extends into the regular season. He's currently on the physically unable to perform list. Dobbins has indicated displeasure on social media with his current contract situation, and the NFL running back market has been a big topic in league circles over the last month. Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated at the start of camp last week that it's a complicated situation. "I wish it was a simple answer," he said. "There's always a lot of things that go into football, but there's some complexity to it and we're working through all that. J.K.'s working through it, and I'm looking forward to when he's out there."

The timeline for Dobbins' return is uncertain, but there's been no indication that it will extend into the regular season. I expect Dobbins will get back at the practice field with enough time to play at the start of the season.

Now if I'm wrong, and Dobbins misses time in the regular season, then I think the depth chart will be Gus Edwards, Justice Hill and then Melvin Gordon III. Hill signed a two-year contract reportedly worth $4 million this offseason, and the Ravens like his ability as a change-of-pace back. Edwards has proven his ability to be a bell cow running back, and he's fully capable of carrying the workload with Dobbins sidelined. The Ravens like the potential and experience that Gordon brings to Baltimore, but he still has to earn his carries. Gordon wants to prove "I still got it," and the Ravens will give him the opportunity to do so this summer, but I believe Edwards and Hill are still ahead of him on the depth chart.

Downing: Let's continue the running back conversation with this question. Gordon is a former Pro Bowler who has an edge over the undrafted rookie in the roster battle, but that competition isn't over yet. Keaton Mitchell is an intriguing player. He put up 1,400 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns last year at East Carolina, and he's flashed that ability at times during training camp and offseason practices. His father, Antony Mitchell, was on Baltimore's Super Bowl XXXV championship squad as a defensive back, so he also has a prior connection to the Ravens.

Mitchell's greatest asset might be his speed, as he posted a 40-yard dash of 4.37 seconds during the pre-draft process. That speed is evident when he gets into space at practice, and he'll likely have plenty of opportunities to show that off during the team's three preseason contests. Beating out the veteran would be a tall task for Mitchell, but I wouldn't entirely rule out that possibility. Special teams will be a factor and Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton said Mitchell is "on the right track" to have an opportunity to make the team and added, "this dude can flat out run."

Mink: I expect that the Ravens are still monitoring the outside linebacker market and keeping tabs on Justin Houston and Kyle Van Noy, who they reportedly had in for a visit. There are probably multiple factors at play here.

One is how much the player wants to be paid. It seems neither player is in a rush to sign, so they could be waiting for a team that gets aggressive enough to meet their number. Another factor for the Ravens is health. If Tyus Bowser is slow to come off the non-football injury list, that could force their hand to add a reinforcement such as Van Noy. If Bowser's recovery goes well, the Ravens could wait. Lastly, the development of the team's younger pass rushers likely plays a role. If Odafe Oweh, David Ojabo and rookie Tavius Robinson are balling out in practice, that could give the Ravens front office confidence that the team has enough pass rush talent already.

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