When the Ravens return to work Monday morning for their voluntary strength and conditioning program, there will be no shortage of storylines.
And you can bet Head Coach John Harbaugh is excited.
When asked last week by a room full of female high school student-athletes what he's looking forward to, Harbaugh pointed to the offseason program.
"I cannot wait to get the guys back," Harbaugh said. "It's been three-and-a-half months, which, if the NFLPA is listening, that's way way too long. We've got to get that fixed."
Coming off a season riddled with injuries, it will be a time to measure the progress of certain players since they've been away, as well as get a look at some of the young up-and-comers.
Here are five storylines to keep an eye on:
Joe Flacco's Knee Progress
Flacco has been doing his rehab throughout the offseason at the Under Armour Performance Center, so he never really left. Still, there's no bigger story this summer than the recovery of Baltimore's franchise quarterback. He'll speak with reporters on Tuesday to give an update, and don't be surprised if he's clanging the iron with his teammates.
Breshad Perriman's PCL
The return of Steve Smith Sr. and Terrell Suggs from their Achilles tears are bigger deals, but the veterans won't be ready for the offseason training program. That leaves last year's first-round pick, wide receiver Breshad Perriman, as the other key injury to watch. Perriman is running, but not at full speed yet, according to Harbaugh. It will be interesting to see how far he's come.
Rising Sophomores Return
The biggest improvement in a player's career may be between their rookie and sophomore years. Rookies have an uphill climb to make an impact in Year 1 when their bodies aren't quite prepared for the rigors of a full NFL season. They're learning the system and adjusting to NFL life without a major break between school, the NFL Scouting Combine and Pro Days. In Year 2, the players get a much better head start on their training and start to look more like seasoned professionals. One player to keep a particular eye on is tight end Maxx Williams. Williams was a young rookie last year, including physically. He could add some bulk this offseason.
Who Else Shows Up?
It's always worth noting who arrives to work on the very first day. The strength and conditioning program is voluntary, but you can bet Ravens coaches keep track of who shows up and who doesn't. Baltimore has typically had very good attendance under Harbaugh's tenure. Most, if not all, of the team's younger players should be on hand.
Any Changes In Training?
A few months after the Ravens reached an unwanted injury record under Harbaugh with 20 players on injured reserve, the team has turned over every stone in trying to find ways to better maintain players' health. Ravens Director of Strength & Conditioning Bob Rogucki will talk with reporters and share any changes the team will make this offseason.