Baltimore Ravens: Highs and lows of the offseason

The Baltimore Ravens started their mandatory 3-day minicamp this Tuesday, June 17, and are playing together for the last time until training camp begins in late July. With less than 80 days until kickoff, these three days really step up the intensity for the team.

Despite a scorching heat index and some physicality among a few players, most of the team showed up to take advantage of this practice time together. Kapron Lewis-Moore missed Wednesday’s practice due to a left hamstring injury on Tuesday, and both Jah Reid (calf) and Terrence Cody (hip) will be ready to hit the field next month for training camp. Officials are also using this time to find possible cornerback help, including veterans Aaron Ross and Drayton Florence.

Baltimore RavensOne altercation sparked between rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and rookie tight end Crockett Gillmore when they both ended up on the ground, but it wasn’t as exciting as the fight between receiver Steve Smith and cornerback Lardarius Webb. Webb apparently crashed into Smith during a catch, which made him extremely angry. Aside from an exchange of words, Smith and Webb shoved each other briefly. Smith is known for getting into fights, so at least this was a lesson learned. This sort of physical energy is part of the game and might be a good sign of enthusiasm for the upcoming season.

Wide receivers seem to be struggling a bit and there have been many dropped passes this week. The offense is in need of a boost, especially following a season with a total of 32 drops. In order to avoid a sophomore slump, Marlon Brown will have to improve this offseason. Now that receiver Aaron Mellette was cut, eyes are on undrafted rookie Jeremy Butler who has certainly been impressive. However, Butler’s competition includes Michael Campanaro, Deonte Thompson, and Laquan Williams.

Why Deonte Thompson should be nervous

Outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton was also cut, making room for defensive tackle Daniel Muir to show officials what he has to offer. Muir totaled 17 tackles and one sack in 10 games for the Raiders last season, and bench pressed 225 pounds 37 times. Defensive lineman Chris Canty has work to do this week and next month due to the possibility of being cut for his salary. In order for this to happen, Lewis-Moore and Brent Urban will have to prove that they can take his place. Lewis-Moore’s recent hamstring injury gives Urban a slight edge.

Joe Flacco is showing some improvement this week, even though his receivers haven’t been helpful. He is really connecting with Steve Smith, which could help him become a favorite receiver this season. Some speculated that former Texans quarterback T.J. Yates would be headed to Baltimore, but the Falcons grabbed him late Wednesday. I don’t think that would have been necessary as we already have a competition between backup Tyrod Taylor and rookie Keith Wenning.

Baltimore RavensWith a pending suspension for Ray Rice, running back is a crucial position right now. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro has significant potential on the field, despite his own legal issues. Bernard Pierce underwent shoulder surgery in January, but will be ready for training camp next month. Justin Forsett also has something to prove this offseason, and has the speed that the Ravens need. Hopefully Pierce and Rice improve, but if not, Taliaferro and Forsett are powerful options.

With temperatures and tensions high this week, the Ravens will finish their eventful minicamp Thursday. The team seems to feel pretty confident about the upcoming season, so hopefully officials can use this minicamp experience to make some important decisions.  As long as progress continues to be made, the team should have a smooth start to the season.  The Ravens are scheduled to meet again for training camp on July 25.