Baltimore Ravens: Early impressions from training camp

Baltimore RavensThe Baltimore Ravens began training camp just over a week ago and the competition is intense. Many key positions are up for grabs and some players are taking advantage of the opportunity to impress.

Wide receiver depth is higher than usual so far, especially with the addition of Steve Smith. Aaron Wilson from The Baltimore Sun said “Smith has been the talk of camp, dashing past cornerbacks for touchdowns.” At 35 years old, Smith still has enough talent to become one of Joe Flacco’s key weapons this season.

On day four of training camp, I witnessed receiver Torrey Smith make the play of the day with an acrobatic one-handed catch during a red-zone drill. Together they are being referred to as the “Smith & Smith Law Firm,” which will hopefully remain true throughout the season. Rookie receiver Michael Campanaro is also making more plays and becoming comfortable with the offense.

The battle for the third cornerback spot continues and backup Chykie Brown was briefly kicked out of practice Saturday. He dropped an interception and then kicked the football out of anger. He quickly complied and had a smooth practice after Coach Harbaugh brought him back out.

Brown has given up big plays during camp, which is an advantage for Asa Jackson. The cornerback position holds major opportunity right now, especially while Lardarius Webb is sidelined. Jackson has shown great stability although Brown has been the leader of the two.

Baltimore Ravens: Training camp preview

Rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley is definitely standing out and showing the capability of a day-one starter. After such a rough linebacker performance in 2013, this is a big deal for the defense. Mosley will become a truly valuable player for the Ravens as early as this season.

Running back Justin Forsett was praised during minicamp and expected to become a star behind Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, but it’s a different story at camp. He is showing inconsistency and being tackled too often in the backfield. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro has made some impressive runs and will likely compete with Forsett for the third spot on the active roster.

Baltimore RavensFullback Kyle Juszczyk is making remarkable moves and showing significant versatility. He is not only taking on the role of lead blocker, but also improving his threat in the passing game. He can do different things and might become an important factor for the offense.

“I expect to have a big year,” Juszczyk said in an interview with the Baltimore Ravens staff. “I expect to clear the way for Ray and Bernard to have a much better year in the running game. And as a team I’m so excited. I think our offense is going to be so improved from last year.”

The Ravens have tough decisions to make for the 53-man roster, including whether or not to keep two backup quarterbacks. They will likely hold onto rookie Keith Wenning because Tyrod Taylor will be a free agent after this season. This will give Wenning time to develop with the team and further enhance his talent. The Ravens have to decide if they can afford to keep Wenning on the roster with Flacco taking up significant salary cap room.

Baltimore Ravens: Why to watch Keith Wenning

Both Flacco and Taylor are performing well this camp, and Wenning’s opportunities are rather limited. Flacco has an array of new targets on the offensive line this year, which should hopefully help him improve from last season. It’s still early, but this could be one of the best draft classes the Ravens have had so far. The depth seems notable in several positions and now it’s time to see how the remainder of camp unfolds as we come closer to preseason.

Do you think the Ravens will keep Wenning?  Will Jackson take the third corner spot from Brown?