After a heartbreaking loss in the AFC Championship, the Ravens offseason has been interesting to say the least. Joe Flacco declared himself the best quarterback in the NFL, Ray Rice and Lardarius Webb got fat new deals, and Ed Reed has been....well.....Ed Reed.
The Ravens seem to have the perfect mixture of veteran leadership and promising, young talent. Ozzie Newsome got another solid draft class and managed to sign some low profile free agents to provide depth on a star studded roster.
The injury to Terrell Suggs and having the 4th toughest schedule in the NFL hasn't lowered expectations in Charm City one bit. The fanbase is confident in their team but also anxious to see the Ravens back on the field and ready to chase after the Lombardi trophy one more time.
Is Joe Flacco ready to assume more responsibility?
On one hand Flacco's numbers took a dive in 2011. On the other he was one dropped TD pass away from a Super Bowl appearance. Can the quarterback ignore Cam Cameron and make adjustments at the line of scrimmage?
Will Terrell Suggs play in 2012?
Seems like Sizzle and his doctors have differing opinions on this one. Even if he's just a situational pass rusher late in the season I'd take it. Having a difference maker like Suggs on the field would be huge come playoff time.
Will Ray Rice perform up to his new contract?
Rice is without a doubt the focal point of the Ravens offense. Running backs might be a dime a dozen but versatile, workhorse backs aren't so the team made a wise move locking up the Rutgers alum. Even with a downgraded offensive line expect big things from #27.
Can Billy Cundiff recover from last season's AFC Championship?
Cundiff went from a Pro Bowler to the most hated man in Baltimore after missing a 32 yard field goal attempt in the AFC Championship. Will he ever be able to mentally recover from costing his team a Super Bowl appearance?
Is this Ray Lewis' last season?
As I mentioned back in June, Lewis is still playing at a very high level despite being 37 years old. He may have lost a step along the way but he's still one of the best in the league and a mentor for the Ravens' young core. If the team wins it all this season I can see him calling it quits.
Can this offensive line be consistent all season?
After losing Ben Grubbs an average offensive line got even worse. The team drafted Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski back in April but they will need time to develop. Meanwhile, Bryant McKinnie and Matt Birk are aging and Michael Oher has disappointed. The Ravens offense will struggle if these guys can't get on the same page.
Will Ed Reed continue his hold out into the season?
Probably not but he seems pretty serious from some of his recent tweets and his quotes on a recent sports talk radio interview. I love Ed Reed and I appreciate what he's done for the franchise but expecting the team to pay him for what he's done in the past isn't how it works. They played hardball with Ray Lewis a couple seasons ago and I see them doing the same with Reed.
Can Courtney Upshaw contribute right away?
With the Suggs injury and the departure of Jarrett Johnson he almost has to. Upshaw was a steal in the 2nd round and played against top level competition in the SEC but we'll have to see in the preseason how he adjusts to the speed of the pro game.
Who will be the Ravens slot receiver?
Outside of Boldin and Torrey Smith the rest of the Ravens receiving corp had a total of eight catches last season. They signed former Texan Jacoby Jones and the gig is likely his to lose. I'd love to see Tandon Doss get more playing time this season though. He seems like a perfect fit in the slot but Jones' contract and physical tools will probably give him more opportunities.
Will Haloti Ngata regain his dominate form?
Last season was somewhat disappointing for Ngata. He finished with only 5 sacks and it felt like you never heard his name mentioned toward the end of the season. Whatever the reason I'm extremely confident that Ngata can bounce back and make big plays for Baltimore all season long.
LB Sergio Kindle
I had such high hopes for the former Longhorn but it doesn't seem like he'll ever regain the explosiveness he had in college. If Kindle can't hack it on special teams this preseason the team may cut ties with him.
WR David Reed
The team is stocked with young receivers and all of them seem to have more potential than Reed. He has yet to catch a pass in a regular season game and his two kickoff return fumbles back in November sealed his fate in the minds of most fans.
QB Curtis Painter
Although they signed him in the offseason I think he could be let go if the Ravens need another roster spot. They went with two QBs last season and Coach Harbaugh has given his support to Tyrod Taylor earlier this year.
OT Bryant McKinnie
Most likely he's safe but you never know. He showed up to minicamp out of shape but since then has been working to shed some pounds. If the team doesn't believe he's fully committed I can see them making an example out of him.
C Cecil Newton
Matt Birk is back for another season and his eventual replacement, Gino Gradkowski, will take the year to sit and learn. Doubt their is a roster spot for Newton at this point.
CB Chykie Brown
Remember when this team had zero cornerbacks? They now boast a starting unit of Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, and Cary Williams. The Ravens signed Corey Graham in the offseason to help on special teams and drafted Asa Jackson. Brown needs to prove himself fast or he's likely gone.
K Billy Cundiff
If he struggles during the preseason and rookie Justin Tucker is doing well the fans in Baltimore will demand a change.
WR Tommy Streeter
He is a raw talent which basically means he's not good enough to play in the NFL yet. The team invested a draft pick on him so look for him to land on the practice squad.
WR Laquan Williams
The team signed Jacoby Jones and undrafted free agent Deonte Thompson. Williams could be cut in training camp if he doesn't impress the coaching staff.
RB Damien Berry
A deep position that got even deeper with 3rd rounder Bernard Pierce. The team will likely have to decide between Berry and fellow undrafted back Bobby Rainey for a practice squad spot.
Ray Lewis, Linebacker
The best linebacker of all time is back for another season. Ray brings passion and intensity to the field every single play. Despite his age he is still the clear cut leader on defense.
Joe Flacco, Quarterback
The embattled quarterback has his critics in Baltimore for sure. He didn't help matters when he declared himself the best quarterback in the league on a local sports radio talk show. Whether that's true or not doesn't really matter. This team will only go as far as Flacco can take them.
Ray Rice, Running Back
As I mentioned earlier, his new contract raises expectations but there is no reason to assume he won't match his numbers from last season, when he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage.
Torrey Smith, Wide Receiver
I expect a huge uptick for Smith heading into his season year. Anquan Boldin may be the primary target in Flacco's mind but Smith is a unique blend of size and speed we haven't seen in Baltimore since the team moved here in 1996.
Lardarius Webb, Cornerback
The cornerback signed a six-year, $50 million deal in the offseason and I believe he will be nationally known as one of the best corners in the NFL by the end of the season.
Paul Kruger, Linebacker
With the Suggs injury it appears Kruger will get a ton more playing time in 2012. He showed some potential with his passing rushing skills last season, finishing with 5.5 sacks. Look for him to be a major contributor in 2012.
Bernard Pierce, Running Back
I'm excited to see what Pierce can bring to this team. His size and skills seem to compliment Ray Rice very well and he's likely the running back of the future in Baltimore.
Pernell McPhee, Defensive End
He faded down the stretch last season, failing to register a sack in the final month of the season but he's got loads of potential. With a full year under his belt, look for McPhee to finish the year as the Ravens sack leader.
Tight End: Dennis Pitta vs. Ed Dickson
This is the same battle we've been talking about for years. Why bring it up AGAIN this season? Well it seems like the Ravens are finally realizing that Dennis Pitta has the best hands on the team. It will likely be a split again in 2012 but I can see Pitta becoming more of a consistent target than Dickson.
Defensive End: Arthur Jones vs. Pernell McPhee
With Cody and Ngata clogging up the middle the Ravens need someone who can consistently get to the quarterback. I like both of these guys quite a bit so I don't think the team can go wrong here. They'll likely split reps to keep the two fresh all season long.
Slot Receiver: Jacoby Jones vs. Tandon Doss
The Ravens paid Jones too much to sit on the bench. His speed is off the charts but has had fumbling issues throughout his career. Doss, on the other hand, is more known for his excellent hands. Both are about the same size so it will be interesting to see who wins the job in training camp.
Kicker: Billy Cundiff vs. Justin Tucker
The fans obviously want Cundiff gone but the team supposedly has faith in him. However, things could change if he struggles in the preseason and undrafted rookie Justin Tucker is nailing kick after kick.
Left Guard: Bobbie Williams vs. Jah Reid vs. Kelechi Osemele
Reid and Osemele appear to be the future of the Ravens offensive line but the team doesn't seem to think the future is now. They signed Bobbie Williams back in May and ,unless he struggles in camp, he has the inside track on the starting gig.
Inside Linebacker: Jameel McClain vs. Dannell Ellerbe
One of these guys will get to play next to Ray Lewis. My guess is McClain will get the gig. He's racked up 155 tackles over the last two seasons and is much better in pass protection than Ellerbe.
Running Back: Bernard Pierce vs. Anthony Allen
Who will be the backup to Ray Rice? The highly touted rookie (Bernard Pierce) or the guy who has a year of experience learning the playbook (Anthony Allen)? This will likely come down to who looks better during the preseason. My money is on Pierce.
Cornerback: Danny Gorrer vs. Chykie Brown
With the cornerback position the deepest squad on the team, this battle will come down to which one makes the bigger impact on special teams. Gorrer is a scrappy player that seems to always be around the ball. He's my pick here.
Quarterback: Tyrod Taylor vs. Curtis Painter
Coach Harbaugh has expressed his faith in Taylor but the front office must have brought in Painter for a reason right? Either way if Flacco gets hurt this team is in big trouble.
Defensive Tackle: Ryan McBean vs. Ma'ake Kemoeatu
Like pitchers in baseball, you can never have too many defensive linemen. Both of them will likely make the team and be used in a rotation when "Mount Cody" needs some oxygen.
The Baltimore Ravens’ 2012 training camp will feature individual practices to be held at M&T Bank Stadium and the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. M&T Bank Stadium is scheduled to host a training camp practice on Saturday, Aug. 4, and then the Ravens will practice at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 12. Both of these sessions are free and open to the public.
Week 1: at Falcons, Thursday August 9th
Week 2: vs. Detroit Lions, Friday August 17th
Week 3: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday August 23rd
Week 4: at St. Louis Rams, Thursday August 30th
The Ravens will be holding a majority of training camp at their facility in Owings Mills which unfortunately isn't open to the public. The team did hold a lottery for 13 practices in which two hundred fans were randomly selected to see practice at the Under Armour Performance Center
Here is info on the two off site practices that are open to the public:
Location: M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore) – free and open to the public
- When: Aug. 4
- Practice Start Time: 5 p.m.
- Gates Open: 3:30 p.m.
- Parking: Stadium lots open at noon and are available for cold tailgating. The parking fee is $10.
Other Details: Baltimore’s Marching Ravens, cheerleaders, official mascot Poe and live mascots Rise and Conquer will be in attendance. The Ravens Team Store and concession stands will be open.
Location: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Annapolis)
- When: Aug. 12
- Practice Start Time: 5 p.m.
- Gates Open: 3:30 p.m.
- Parking: Lots open at noon and are available for cold tailgating.
- $10 for cars and $25 for buses
- Parking may be purchased viahttp://www.navysports.com
If Navy lots become full, nearby off-site locations are available with stadium shuttles.
Other Details: Baltimore’s Marching Ravens, cheerleaders, official mascot Poe and live mascots Rise and Conquer will be in attendance. The Ravens Team Store will be on-site, and concession stands will be open.
|Newton, Cecil||61||C||6-2||315||26||1||Tennessee State|
|Jackson, Asa||25||CB||5-10||191||22||Rookie||California Polytechnic State|
|Graham, Corey||24||CB||6-0||196||26||6||New Hampshire|
|Webb, Lardarius||21||CB/RS||5-10||182||26||4||Nicholls State|
|Gorrer, Danny||36||DB||6-0||185||26||3||Texas A&M|
|McPhee, Pernell||90||DE||6-3||280||23||2||Mississippi State|
|Hall, Bryan||95||DT||6-0||295||23||1||Arkansas State|
|Leach, Vonta||44||FB||6-0||260||30||9||East Carolina|
|Thompson, Christian||33||FS||6-0||211||22||Rookie||South Carolina State|
|Wragge, Tony||64||G||6-4||310||32||8||New Mexico State|
|Boren, Justin||65||G/C||6-2||325||24||1||Ohio State|
|Carr, Nigel||42||LB||6-2||232||22||Rookie||Alabama State|
|Scales, Patrick||48||LS||6-4||228||24||2||Utah State|
|Kitchen, Ishmaa'ily||67||NT||6-1||334||23||Rookie||Kent State|
|McBean, Ryan||98||NT||6-5||305||28||4||Oklahoma State|
|Lawrence, Addison||71||OL||6-4||300||23||Rookie||Mississippi St.|
|Suggs, Terrell||55||OLB||6-3||260||29||10||Arizona State|
|Madsen, Paul||79||OT||6-4||309||2012||Rookie||Colorado State|
|Taylor, Tyrod||2||QB||6-1||215||22||2||Virginia Tech|
|Rainey, Bobby||34||RB||5-8||205||24||Rookie||W. Kentucky|
|Allen, Anthony||35||RB||6-1||230||23||2||Georgia Tech|
|Cook, Emanuel||26||S||5-10||202||24||3||South Carolina|
|Quarles, Cyhl||43||S||6-3||210||23||Rookie||Wake Forest|
|Reid, Jah||76||T||6-7||335||24||2||Central Florida|
|McKinnie, Bryant||78||T||6-8||360||32||11||Miami (FL)|
|Osemele, Kelechi||72||T||6-5||333||23||Rookie||Iowa State|
|Drew, Davon||80||TE||6-4||260||26||1||East Carolina|
|Pitta, Dennis||88||TE||6-4||245||27||3||Brigham Young|
|Boldin, Anquan||81||WR||6-1||223||31||10||Florida State|
|Goda, Devin||85||WR||6-2||225||23||Rookie||Slippery Rock|
Training camp roster courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens official site.
Round 2: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
Another first-round talent that GM Ozzie Newsome was able to land in the second round. Relentless pass rusher. Ready to play immediately in the NFL which is key for a Super Bowl caliber roster like this. Will hopefully fill some of the void left with Terrell Suggs on the shelf.
Round 2: Kelechi Osemele, T, Iowa State
The Ravens liked Osemele for not only his size (the dude is a monster!) but also because he can play guard or right tackle. Could end up winning the starting left guard spot with a solid camp.
Round 3: Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple
Pierce has perfect size to be a feature back in the NFL. He displayed excellent vision and cutback ability during his time at Temple. Even though Ray Rice just signed a five year extension, look for Pierce to get a decent workload in his rookie season.
Round 4: Gino Gradkowski, G/C, Delaware
Gradkowski, an FCS All-American as a senior, is in the perfect situation. He'll will be able to learn behind Matt Birk for the entire season and likely take over his starting gig in 2013. High character guy from Joe Flacco's alma mater.
Round 4: Christian Thompson, S, South Carolina State
With the departures of Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura it was obvious that the safety position was a huge need heading into the draft. Had the fastest 40 yard dash time of all the safeties at the combine. Will learn quite a bit from future Hall of Famer Ed Reed.
Round 5: Asa Jackson, CB, Cal Poly
Doesn't really project as a starting cornerback in the NFL because of his lack of size. Likely to be a special teams standout.
Round 6: Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami
Raw talent that the Ravens are hoping will develop down the road. Likely practice squad material during his first pro season.
Round 7: DeAngelo Tyson, DE, Georgia
Provides some fresh blood on the Ravens defensive line rotation. Will hopefully develop into a quality role player.
John Brantley, QB, Florida
Could be a nice project at the quarterback position. However, with the signing of Curtis Painter it's likely that Brantley will be on the practice squad for the entire season.
Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky
A talented back who lacks the size to be a durable NFL player. Could evolve into a weapon for the Ravens down the road.
Jamison Berryhill, FB, Texas
With Vonta Leach playing at a Pro Bowl level there is no chance Berryhill makes the squad.
Deonte Thompson, WR, Florida
Thompson (pictured above) turned a ton of heads during the Ravens' minicamps back in June and could make the team over an underacheiver like David Reed.
Dorian Graham, WR, Syracuse
He was moved from safety to receiver in college. Nothing special but his speed might get him a look on special teams.
Devin Goda, WR, Slippery Rock
Goda had an impressive 37' vertical leap at the combine. The receiving corp in Baltimore is pretty stacked but anything could happen in training camp.
Bruce Figgins, TE, Georgia
Had success at fullback in college but he's listed as a tight end with the Ravens. His versatility could come in handy, however, if injuries happen.
Matt Balasavage, TE, Temple
During his four years at Temple, he never had more than two receptions in a season. He'll be gone before you know it.
Alfred McCullough, G, Alabama
Doesn't have ideal size for an offensive lineman. Likely to get cut before the preseason begins.
Jack Cornell, G, Auburn
Another developmental offensive lineman. Practice squad for sure. His size will keep him around.
Antonie McClain, G/T, Clemson
Another warm body for training camp. Don't bother remembering the name. He doesn't have the skills to play at the NFL level.
Addison Lawrence, G/T, Mississippi State
Check out the crazy eye black on this guy! Lawrence isn't NFL caliber yet but maybe the Ravens can whip him into shape.
Paul Madsen, T, Colorado State
Played tackle in college but projects as a guard in the NFL. Could make the final roster considering the lack of depth on the offensive line.
Jordan Mabin, CB, Northwestern
Mabin is a solid corner but I'm not sure he has great upside. He's a nickel/dime back in the NFL at best.
Terrence Moore, DE, Nebraska
This one is puzzling. Moore only had 26 tackles during his college career. We'll see if he can show any promise before the cuts begin.
Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, DT, Kent State
Greatest. Name. Ever. More of a run stopper than anything. Another possible practice squad member.
Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, DT, Baylor
Has the size to be a nose tackle in the Ravens 3-4 defense. Plus he sounds like a character from True Blood.
Nigel Carr, LB, Alabama State
Carr was a big time prospect at Florida State but run-ins with the law caused teams to pass on him. He is extremely athletic and would benefit from a year on the practice squad.
Chyl Quarles, S, Wake Forest
The Ravens lost their safety depth in the offseason so Quarles could stick around. Many draft pundits were surprised he wasn't selected back in April.
Omar Brown, S, Marshall
Brown was a first-team All Conference USA selection after his senior season. Like Quarles, learning from a future Hall of Famer like Ed Reed can only be a good thing.
Justin Tucker, K, Texas
Even without the AFC Championship, Billy Cundiff had a down year in 2011 and his effectiveness took even more of a hit with the new kickoff rules. Tucker was brought in to challenge Cundiff and he could just steal the job.
While the Ravens haven't added many pieces during the offseason they did do a great job adding quality, low cost players that should provide excellent depth heading into the season.
Jacoby Jones, WR (via Houston Texans)
The Ravens return game was unimpressive last season so hopefully Jones can provide a spark, if he can control his fumbling problems.
Corey Graham, CB (via Chicago Bears)
Baltimore ranked 31st in the league in the NFL at average kickoff return yards allowed so look for Graham to make his biggest contributions as a gunner on special teams.
Bobbie Williams, OG (via Cincinnati Bengals)
His best days are likely behind him but if the young guys aren't read to fill the hole left by Ben Grubbs departure he will provide a decent stop gap starter.
Sean Considine, S (via Jacksonville Jaguars)
Simply depth. If he gets inserted into the starting lineup it's likely someone is injured.
Curtis Painter, QB (via Indianapolis Colts)
Started 8 games for the Colts last season. Didn't look very good but at least he has experience in that role in Flacco has to miss any time.
Ma'ake Kemoeatu, DT (via Carolina Panthers)
Former Raven returns home. You can never have enough quality defensive lineman.
Ryan McBean, DT (via Denver Broncos)
Decent depth on the defensive line. Might end up competing with Kemoeatu for a roster spot.
Ravens at Atlanta Falcons, Thursday August 9th
Fans are likely to be most excited about the Joe Flacco/Matt Ryan matchup. The two quarterbacks were both selected in the 1st round of the 2009 NFL Draft and will compared to each other until they retire. The Falcons are always tough at home but I have a feeling the Ravens will be motivated to start things on the right foot.
Ravens 19 Falcons 13
Ravens vs. Detroit Lions, Friday August 17th
The Lions have the best QB/WR tandem in the league but hopefully Matthew Stafford and Megatron don't play more than just the 1st half. Defensively Detroit is getting better but this should be a high scoring game as far as preseason games go.
Ravens 23 Lions 21
Ravens vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday August 23rd
This is the game where we will see the closest sample of the Ravens Week 1 lineup. Flacco will get a chance to get extended time to gel with his receivers and tight ends. The Jags have very few play-makers on either side of the ball and the Ravens should make short work of them. Although, that's what I said when these teams met last season.
Ravens 28 Jaguars 10
Ravens at St. Louis Rams, Thursday August 30th
If you need proof that the preseason is too long watch any Week 4 game. Any player of significance is in street clothes and half the guys in the game will be cut the next day. Still it's football so it's hard to complain. The Rams have a solid young core of players from their last couple drafts so they'll have more to prove in front of their home crowd.
Rams 17 Ravens 10