One thing is for sure when looking at the 2013 Baltimore Ravens: They are different.
It's a different team that will play different teams and will have to find different ways to win. As far as potential goes, the Ravens seem to be as good as any or at least have as much potential as any team in the NFL.
37.5 percent of NFL teams make the playoffs each year. Since 2008, the Ravens have been in that group each year, which no other team can say (the Colts made the playoffs from 2008-10, and again in 2012).
So we know the Ravens have the right foundation and framework for what makes a successful season. Actually being successful is a process that begins anew each year.
By nature, this game is ultra-competitive. Imagine how players will be trying to make the team that just won the Super Bowl, especially considering the roster turnover yielding so much opportunity.
Although Baltimore's training camp ends one month from today, there are players who have been productive and those that haven't.
Here's the "training camp stock report" for some notable Baltimore Ravens.
Tandon Doss has his best opportunity right in front of him.
This year, Doss won't have to compete with Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta (who had the first- and second-most receptions last year, respectively) for playing time. After Torrey Smith, it seems to be up in the air as to who is the next wide receiver on the field.
Doss has yet to see significant playing time, but if his recent camp performance in an indication, Doss will be seeing significant playing time soon (note the second video on this page, from :47 to :50).
Here's what Head Coach John Harbaugh had to say about Doss, via Ryan Mink of baltimoreravens.com:
Tandon, to me, has looked good, Head Coach John Harbaugh said. He made a number of nice plays down here in the competitive third-down period at the end. He had a lot of balls thrown to him, so there were a couple in there – I remember a couple drops – but I sure remember a lot of catches. He looks fast to me. He looks more explosive than he’s probably ever looked before.
Terrence Cody is entering his fourth NFL season. Thus far, he's started 20 of a possible 58 games (34.5 percent). After starting every game in 2011, he started just three games last year.
That slide doesn't seem to be ending soon, especially since the Ravens drafted and are excited about nose tackle Brandon Williams. The organization also signed veteran defensive tackle Marcus Spears in the offseason.
At 6'4", 349 pounds, Cody has very good size, but especially last year, he didn't utilize that size well.
So far in this training camp, according to team and local media reports, he hasn't been able to shake the newcomers. That should be troubling to him since the players he's competing with are either rookies and/or first-year players in this system.
One of those players new to the Ravens, defensive end Chris Canty, attests to the unusual depth along the Ravens defensive line and says this unit is as good as the one he played on when he won Super Bowl XLVI.
Canty had this to say about Baltimore's defensive line, via Tyler Seabolt of russellstreetreport.com:
I tell you it’s as good as any defensive line I have ever been a part of, Canty said. It has the potential to be. We just have to continue to work. We have to stack days. We have to take one day at a time. I’m excited about the potential of this group. Everybody in that room is. We are looking forward to coming out here and improving each day.
In other words, if the competition is getting greater and Cody's performance has leveled out, that doesn't bode well for him.
It's safe to say the Ravens knew Matt Elam would have to perform at a high level quickly after being drafted for that selection to be worthwhile.
So far, so good.
Not only is Elam running with the first team, but he's making big plays too.
On Saturday, Elam made a big interception and would've likely returned it for a score if the play wasn't blown dead.
He might not be Ed Reed, but he's not supposed to be. Either way, coach Harbaugh is pleased with what he's seen from his first-round pick, according to Matt Vensel of The Baltimore Sun:
He’s got a gift for understanding the game from back there -- his spacing, his awareness of routes, his understanding of where he needs to be relative to the guys around him. He’s got a good feel for that, so he should progress really quickly.
On a defense with so much up for grabs, Elam is playing like he wants to start from day one. By the looks of his performance thus far, he will do just that.
According to Garrett Downing of baltimoreravens.com, Bryant McKinnie missed most of Friday's practice due to fatigue. When he was out there, "he had a tough time" blocking pass-rushers such as Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.
Most people do have a tough time blocking those guys, but that's not the point.
The point is that last year, even though McKinnie started less than seven games for the first time in his 11-year career, he still had a very good playoff run.
But why didn't he start before that? Was it his (lack of) conditioning? He obviously passed his conditioning test this summer, otherwise he wouldn't be practicing, which is why this fatigue is a bit perplexing.
Although Downing reported that McKinnie was back at practice Saturday, it's not good for McKinnie to have another preseason in which he's missing time because of fatigue or lack of conditioning.
The Ravens offensive line is a strength and McKinnie's spot isn't in danger. But the fact that him starting and finishing a practice is even in question isn't good.
If there was a defensive MVP for the Ravens during their playoff run last year, it should've been Corey Graham.
During last year's playoffs, Graham made 20 tackles, defended seven passes and made two interceptions (one for a touchdown).
Either way, Graham is doing this year what he did last year: by and large locking receivers down. He's shown very good ability in press coverage while also being able to intercept passes.
If we're honest, he might be the best cornerback the Ravens have.
Tommy Streeter had to leave Sunday's practice early because of the heat, according to the team's website. On Monday he was absent from the entire practice. He did however return to practice on Wednesday.
We've all heard (probably from yours truly) about Streeter's size (6'5", 220 pounds) and speed (4.37 40-yard dash in the NFL combine).
The time for talking about his potential is over.
He needs to take advantage of this incredible opportunity in front of him. A guy like Streeter who is likely competing with eight other players* for one spot cannot afford to miss reps, especially considering he has yet to play in a NFL regular-season game.
*Currently there are 12 wide receiver on Baltimore's roster. Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss and David Reed will likely all make the team. Usually, a team will keep five wide receivers, leaving one spot up for grabs among the remaining eight wide receivers.
Terrell Suggs is now the leader of the defense. He's the most experienced and, depending on who you ask, the best defensive player the Ravens have.
He's the most vocal defender too, which doesn't hurt either.
When he spoke to the media during a June minicamp, Suggs was carrying "significantly less weight," according to The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
But regarding his on-field play so far in this preseason, Suggs has been amazing. Here's what Garrett Downing of baltimoreravens.com had to say about "T-Sizzle":
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has been making a home in the offensive backfield during the first week of camp. He looks fast and explosive, and seems to be blowing by any offensive lineman put in front of him.
To get that kind of effort and performance from someone who has done it all in the NFL at this stage of his career is rare.
Like Streeter, LaQuan Williams is in a tight battle with many other wide receivers for a roster spot. Also like Streeter, Williams has been missing multiple days of practice lately.
On Friday, Williams left practice early with what seemed to be an arm injury, according to baltimoreravens.com staff writer Garrett Downing. Williams missed the next three practices before returning on Wednesday.
The team's website lists Williams as having some kind of shoulder injury.
Williams has played in 33 games during his two-year career. He's mostly a special teams player and has displayed good hands when on offense.
Now with Pitta being out for the year, Joe Flacco will look to new players to fill that void, especially on third down. Williams can be that guy, but he needs to stay healthy to have a legitimate shot.