4 Takeaways from the Baltimore Ravens' First Week of Camp
The Baltimore Ravens began their training camp in earnest 10 days ago. In that short time, they have gotten a lot of work in from a lot of different plays in a lot of different situations.
While it hasn't been perfect, it doesn't have to be. The idea of training camp is to put your players in all kinds of situations so you figure out who can handle the pressure and who can't.
While there has been more than a few injured players, those injuries haven't been severe. Especially with this kind of team that is so experienced, the luxury of resting players when you know they don't need an entire training camp is one you ought to take advantage of.
As I've been going to practice throughout the week, I've noticed a few trends starting to arise. This team is hungry, every player competes on every play and they are focused on New Orleans.
Here are some other big takeaways from the first full week of Ravens training camp.
Sergio Kindle Is Ready to Go
Sergio Kindle is back.
The Ravens have built their foundation on defense. If they lose a key contributor, they're able to replace that player with another key contributor.
The news that Kindle is performing well in camp is particularly good because since he was drafted in 2010, he hasn't been able to truly begin his career as Raven.
Three months after he was drafted by the Ravens, Kindle fractured his skull after falling down two flights of stairs at a friend's house.
Now back and healthy, Kindle looks to reward the Ravens for sticking by his side. Kindle has looked quick and strong in camp. He has lined up at outside linebacker and at defensive end and has been able to rush the passer and drop into coverage as if he's been healthy all this time.
He may not be Suggs, but as far as the Ravens fans are concerned, any production Kindle gives them is a bonus.
Corey Graham Is Playing Like a Starter
He has been the defensive star of training camp thus far and is personifying his desire to start on the Ravens defense.
Graham has been all over the place, routinely smothering receivers in coverage and either deflecting or intercepting passes. Considering the difference in versatility between Chicago's defense and Baltimore's defense, it's a testament to Graham's work ethic that he's able to pick up defensive coordinator Dean Pees' system so quickly.
"(Pees' defense is) not predictable," Graham said. "It's night and day from everything I played in Chicago. So, it's something I'm definitely getting used to. It's something I really like. I've never seen anything like it. Just learning all the different defenses and the different things you can do, it's like a kid in a candy store every day."
Although in the Ravens' defensive system, starter is a relative term, Graham is certainly making a clear case that he wants as much playing time as his coaches will give him.
Tyrod Taylor Is Proving to Be Quality Insurance
What some fans in Baltimore have wondered is if Tyrod Taylor is good enough to be Flacco's backup.
According to Taylor's performance in this year's training camp, the answer is a firm yes.
Taylor has been impressive this preseason, showing consistent accuracy, velocity, touch, crisp footwork and the ability to direct the offense in different situations.
He can scramble and evade pass-rushers, but also stands strong in the pocket.
Taylor's performance so far is cause for the Ravens to keep only two quarterbacks on their active roster. As you may know, each NFL roster spot is precious. The Ravens won't let that go unnoticed.
Justin Tucker Is Playing Lights out
Make no mistake, Billy Cundiff is having a good training camp.
Justin Tucker is having a slightly better training camp.
Over the next four years, the Ravens owe Cundiff $12.6 million ($2.4 million of which is guaranteed bonus money). With Joe Flacco's contract expiring at the end of this year and Tucker's outstanding performance, Cundiff's cap figure is something the Ravens front office is surely taking a look at.
By my count, Tucker has only missed one field goal attempt so far in training camp. One of his many successful kicks came from 63 yards away in yesterday's public practice at M&T Bank Stadium.
In addition, Tucker has taken several reps at punter. Sam Koch's job in far from being in jeopardy, but Tucker's versatility is another reason for the Ravens to keep him around.
Think of it this way: Justin Tucker is good enough to be a starting kicker in the NFL, whether it's with the Ravens or not.