Baltimore Ravens Training Camp Progress Reports for Notable Rookies
At this point, training camp is halfway over for all 32 NFL teams. That's the case when Week 1 of the preseason comes around. On August 7, the Baltimore Ravens will host the San Francisco 49ers in their first preseason game.
This will be the first live-game action for several notable Ravens rookies. Over the next few slides, I'll hand out a progress report and grade for every Ravens rookie who was drafted this year and should be expected to make a significant impact on this year's team.
Though there's still plenty of time for each of these rookies to improve with four weeks until the start of the regular season, here's a look at how they've progressed to this point.
LB CJ Mosley
The Ravens had big plans for CJ Mosley as soon as they drafted him, and that's been evident in training camp.
In 2013 with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Mosley won the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in college football. He was also named the Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year after starting all 13 games at inside linebacker.
Mosley finished the year and was 'Bama's leading tackler with 108 stops, nine tackles for loss and five pass breakups. He was was arguably the best player on the board when the Ravens were on the clock, and he now could be one of the two starting inside linebackers for Baltimore this year.
The Ravens use a 3-4 defense that features two inside linebackers, and Mosley has been running with the first-team defense in training camp. He also was listed as the starting weak-side linebacker in Baltimore's first depth chart.
According to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, head coach John Harbaugh says that what the Ravens love about Mosley is his football IQ.
Our scouts do a good job of trying to [figure] out his football IQ, and what is that exactly? [It is] guys who really understand the game and pick things up quickly, and C.J. is one of those guys," coach John Harbaugh said. "You don’t have to tell him [something] more than once, and he makes corrections really quickly. The next step for C.J. is like all of them – it’s going to be to get on the field and play an NFL game against another NFL team [to] get that experience.
You can only take so much away from how a player is performing in practice, but so far, Mosley has lived up to expectations.
DL Timmy Jernigan
The Ravens drafted Florida State defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan to upgrade their defensive line after losing starting defensive tackle Arthur Jones in free agency this offseason.
Unfortunately, a back injury early in training camp has slowed his progress. Jernigan was off to a nice start and is doing well overall in camp.
However, when the first depth chart was released, Jernigan was third on the depth chart at defensive tackle, behind Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody.
Jernigan will need to keep playing well if he wants to climb past Cody on the depth chart. Cody has been with the Ravens for five years now after being selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft.
In other words, Baltimore has invested more in him to this point. Jernigan needs to show the Ravens it's time to start investing in him.
The good news is Jernigan was running with the second-team defense on Monday because Cody was out with a hip injury. This may be his opportunity to lock down the backup spot behind Ngata.
If not for the back injury, Jernigan might already be second on the depth chart behind the Pro Bowler Ngata. As it stands, Jernigan needs to pass Cody just to get any significant playing time as a rookie.
FS Terrence Brooks
Baltimore has a void at safety after starter James Ihedigbo left in free agency. They attempted to fill it by drafting safety Terrence Brooks out of Florida State with the 79th overall pick in this year's draft.
Brooks, regarded as one of the top safety prospects in the 2014 NFL draft, is a physical specimen who can cover well and come down and support the run. This past season, Brooks notched 56 tackles and two interceptions in 13 starts (five at free safety, eight at strong safety).
Brooks' versatility allows him to play both safety spots effectively, at least in college. Matt Elam is the current strong safety, but there's playing time up for grabs at free safety.
However, Brooks has found it hard to adjust to the NFL game. According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, Brooks is thinking too much, and that has hurt him to this point.
The third-round draft pick from Florida State is still thinking more than reacting, though, which has prevented him from making big plays as he still hesitates a bit too much while adjusting to to a higher level of football. Brooks is behind veterans Darian Stewart and Jeromy Miles in the competition for the starting free safety job vacated when Matt Elam moved to strong safety.
As Wilson said, Darian Stewart, a free-agent acquisition this offseason, is battling veteran backup Jeromy Miles for the starting free safety spot. In four NFL seasons, Stewart has played in 54 games but started just 19 of them. In four seasons, Miles has played in 51 games but has started just one game.
Neither of those guys appears to be a long-term answer. Brooks needs to step up and start performing better in camp if he wants to play significant snaps as a rookie.
The Ravens were hoping Brooks could come in and become a full-time starter they could rely on for years to come. Instead, they're having to count on a journeyman to battle for the starting spot.
There are the rookies who haven't gotten enough reps and/or been mentioned enough by beat writers and other national media who've attended Ravens camp. As of now, I don't believe these players can have a fair or accurate grade put on them.
Crockett Gillmore, Tight End
The third-round pick out of Colorado State isn't expected to contribute much as a rookie with Pro Bowlers Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels ahead of him.
Brent Urban, Defensive Tackle
Drafted in the fourth round of this year's draft, Urban's season is over after he suffered a torn ACL early in training camp. He was only expected to provide depth along the defensive line as a rookie, but he won't even do that now.
Lorenzo Taliaferro, Running Back
Taliaferro was the Ravens' second fourth-round pick in this year's draft, but he's facing an uphill battle to get playing time as a rookie. He was listed fourth on the initial depth chart, and that's reflective of how little work he's gotten in training camp with Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce and Justin Forsett ahead of him.
John Urschel, Offensive Lineman
A fifth-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Urschel is likely going to be a developmental offensive lineman as rookie. He was listed as the third-string right guard on the first depth chart.
Keith Wenning, Quarterback
A sixth-round pick out of Ball State, Wenning is unlikely to play as a rookie with veterans Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor ahead of him. The good news is Taylor is a free agent next year, so Wenning could be the primary backup behind Flacco in 2015.
Michael Campanaro, Wide Receiver
The seventh-round pick out of Wake Forest has had some nice flashes in camp, but a rib injury has already cost Campanaro some time. He was injury-prone in college and missed five games in 2013 after suffering a broken collarbone.