Updating Baltimore Ravens' Key Position Battles in Training Camp
With training camp winding down, the Baltimore Ravens are getting to the point where they need to start making decisions on key positional battles.
The main battles were for backup running back, third wide receiver, cornerback, defensive end, left guard and kicker.
Some of these battles have already been decided, while others continue to rage. Here are the latest updates on each one of these key positional battles.
Running Back: Bernard Pierce vs. Anthony Allen vs. Bobby Rainey
Unfortunately for the Ravens, this battle has only gotten more unclear after Bobby Rainey looked so good in the preseason opener.
Bernard Pierce has been dealing with injury, while Anthony Allen has done nothing to distinguish himself.
Bobby Rainey, on the other hand, was dynamic against the Atlanta Falcons, and he has forced himself into the discussion for a roster spot.
Rainey runs like a poor man's Ray Rice, with good elusiveness and surprising power for such a small back.
Despite Rainey's great performance, Pierce should be considered the front runner. He's the most talented player in the running for the job. As long as he recovers from injury, he will be the guy.
Wide Receiver: Jacoby Jones vs. LaQuan Williams vs. Tandon Doss
This positional battle is pretty much over, with Jacoby Jones emerging as the winner.
Jones has experience that the other receivers on the roster simply don't have. That, combined with his speed and size, made Jones the front-runner for the position from the beginning.
With a solid performance in training camp, Jones has done nothing to lose his spot as the third receiver.
Cornerback: Jimmy Smith vs. Cary Williams
Jimmy Smith seems to be the likely starter at cornerback, though he hasn't earned this role so much as Cary Williams seems to have lost it.
To be fair, Williams still has a very real chance of regaining his starting job. Still, Williams' abysmal performance against Julio Jones against the Falcons is troubling for the Ravens.
Williams simply lacks the ball skills that are so important to being an NFL cornerback. His coverage skills are solid, but his tendency to lose the ball in the air has cost the Ravens several big plays in the past.
Smith is mostly unproven, but his upside is huge. The Ravens have a lot of resources tied up in his development: The time is now to see if he will live up to his status as a first-round pick.
Defensive End: Arthur Jones vs. Pernell McPhee
Injuries have been the main story behind this positional battle, as both Art Jones and Pernell McPhee have struggled with injuries in camp.
McPhee got the start in the first preseason game by virtue of an injury to Jones, but Jones is still listed at the top of the depth chart.
Really, this positional battle is the least important on the roster. Both players will play extensively.
Expect to see Jones starting the game on first and second down with McPhee coming off the bench in pass rushing situations.
Left Guard: Bobbie Williams vs. Jah Reid vs. Kelechi Osemele
The Ravens signed Bobbie Williams to be their starting left guard, and he hasn't disappointed.
Kelechi Osemele is the future at this position, but Williams has firmly decided this battle, making himself the left guard of the present.
Kicker: Justin Tucker vs. Billy Cundiff
Going into training camp, the Ravens' kicker position was held firmly by Billy Cundiff. There was no way the Ravens would consider letting the proven veteran go in favor of rookie Justin Tucker.
After a few weeks of camp, though, Tucker has completely out-performed Cundiff. Tucker has displayed a booming leg, great accuracy and better consistency than Cundiff.
Cundiff, meanwhile, still struggles from long range, and he will simply never be consistent.
Cundiff will never be a top-10 kicker in the NFL. Justin Tucker can be.
The Ravens need to make the right decision to go with Tucker at kicker. Cundiff is an adequate kicker who will kick again in the NFL, but Tucker has been the better kicker in camp, and he has earned the job.