Rounding Up the Latest Baltimore Ravens Offseason Buzz, Post-Minicamp
Once the minicamp was over, so too was the final time we'd see the majority of the Ravens together on the same field until training camp begins in one month.
It's hard to take much of what goes on in OTAs seriously. Players aren't permitted to wear pads or hit each other. Also, the speed at which they go through drills is not at the same level they'll see in training camp.
Still, there can be notable news and stories that come out of OTAs. Here's a look at three buzz-worthy stories coming out of Ravens OTAs.
The Ravens are very thin at cornerback, having only Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb as proven commodities at CB.
As of now, Smith and Webb are the only cornerbacks with significant NFL experience on the roster. Those two will be one of the better tandems in the NFL next year, but they've got no one behind them who's even an established backup.
Chykie Brown played in just 39 defensive snaps in 2013, and Asa Jackson was only used on special teams.
To add to their corner depth, Baltimore signed Aaron Ross and Dominique Franks this past week.
Ross, at 6'1" and weighing 193 pounds, has played in the NFL for seven seasons. He has 11 career interceptions and 41 passes defended. Ross was with the New York Giants last year, but he was placed on the injured reserve list in October due to a back injury.
As for Franks, a 197-pounder standing at 6'0", he has 30 tackles, three interceptions and nine passes defended in four NFL seasons. He played in 15 games last season as a reserve corner for the Atlanta Falcons, and he has just four career starts in four seasons.
It's also worth noting that the Kansas City Chiefs just released Brandon Flowers this past week, and Baltimore was mentioned as a team that was interested in him.
Even with the addition of Franks and Ross, signing Flowers would be a smart move by Baltimore if it comes at a fair price.
Flowers has started 87 games in his six NFL seasons while snagging 17 interceptions and deflecting 91 passes.
If Baltimore instead opts to go with what they currently have, Chykie Brown could be the man Baltimore is counting on to step up.
According to the Baltimore Ravens' website, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has singled Brown out as a player that's impressed him in OTAs.
"Chykie Brown has been playing good," he said. "He’s had his chance to get out on the field and [gain] experience, but now he gets thrown in and it’s his. He’s going to get to show you all what he’s capable of."
In three NFL seasons, Brown has registered 39 tackles and seven pass defenses. He played in just 39 defensive snaps last year in a reserve role.
Baltimore has some dangerously thin depth at cornerback, given the lack of proven commodities at the position. That said, it appears they are better off at the position coming out of OTAs than they were going into them.
Uncertainty at Running Back
Baltimore is still awaiting the status of Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice. He's likely going to be suspended to start the 2014 NFL season.
This comes from the incident that involved Rice allegedly knocking his then-girlfriend unconscious at an Atlantic City casino. Per Sarah Ellison of the Baltimore Ravens' official site, the team believes Rice will be suspended, but to this point, there has been no ruling handed down from the NFL.
Making matters worse is backup running back Bernard Pierce is out with an injury. He's coming off of shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, and it's expected to sideline him until the start of training camp, according to Matt Zenitz of the Carroll County Times.
Baltimore also signed journeyman Justin Forsett this offseason, and he's gotten some run with the first-team offense. However, no one is mistaking him for a back as good as Rice.
Baltimore did draft running back Lorenzo Taliaferro out of Coastal Carolina in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft.
A talented and versatile back in college, Taliaferro could be in line to be a contributor early in the upcoming season if Rice is suspended.
However, an offseason arrest may have severely damaged those chances. According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, Taliaferro was arrested and charged with destruction of property and being drunk in public in late May.
To sum it up, the Ravens will probably be without their top back for one or more games. Behind him is a back coming off of a significant shoulder procedure, a journeyman and a rookie who's already gotten into trouble with the law.
At the end of the day, though, Rice and Pierce are going to be the primary two backs used for the majority of the 2014 season, as long as they're healthy and staying out of trouble.
That said, there's still some real uncertainty as to how the position will look at the beginning of this season.
Gary Kubiak Wants More from Joe Flacco
Anytime a team gets a new offensive coordinator, it's important that he and the team's starting quarterback are on the same page.
That means the QB accepts whatever coaching he gets from his new OC, which will include criticism of bad habits and how they can be improved upon.
That's might not be the case right away between Joe Flacco and new Ravens OC Gary Kubiak.
According to Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun, Flacco and Kubiak have two different personalities. The new OC uses a more old-school approach in his teaching that Flacco might not be ready for.
Under the old regime, former Ravens assistants like Cam Cameron, Jim Zorn and Jim Caldwell would baby Flacco. Flacco has never done well with criticism, so the coaching staff had to be fragile with his ego.
From what I hear, Kubiak isn't going to cater to Flacco. He is old school and emphasizes fundamentals, which Flacco needs if he is ever going to reach the next level. Kubiak is as much of a stickler on fundamentals as he is in learning the playbook. He constantly works on foot work, drop backs and securing the ball -- all areas in which Flacco definitely needs to improve. Flacco's mechanics have been decent, but also sloppy at times.
It's a good thing Kubiak expects more from Flacco and wants him to improve on his weaknesses. After tossing 22 interceptions to just 19 touchdowns a year ago, it's clear Flacco has areas of his game he needs to improve on.
That said, Flacco told ESPN's Jamison Hensley that he's gotten comfortable in Kubiak's offense during OTAs.
I've been able to get really, really comfortable and kind of just get back there, go through my reads, and have a lot of fun," Flacco said. "I think we look good; it's been a lot of fun. Like I said, I think everybody has put a lot of hard work in, and because of that we've been able to go out there and work on some of the little things and really get better."
It's a good sign that Flacco is accepting the coaching Kubiak is giving him right now. That will get harder, though, once training camp opens and the pads come on.
Only then will we know if Flacco and Kubiak will be able to work together to make this the best Ravens offense it can possibly become.
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