Training camp has been quite a roller coaster for the Baltimore Ravens so far, but the team is looking better each day. The wide receiver position is no doubt the most competitive right now.
Steve Smith and Torrey Smith are definitely at the top of the depth chart and have both made phenomenal plays this camp. Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown are likely next on the chart, which means the seven remaining will probably battle for two potential roster spots. I hope to see rookie Michael Campanaro make the roster, despite his small size. He is quick on his feet and knows how to create separation, showing great athleticism this camp.
Tight end Dennis Pitta is back to 100 percent after last year’s hip injury and he is motivated to play a major role this season. Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak has a history of featuring the tight end, which is good news for Pitta. He’s made some nice plays at camp, including touchdowns, so I see a significant rebound year ahead for him.
Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro looks like a useful addition to the running back position, which had some struggles last year. Taliaferro has had several successful runs this camp and Kubiak could use his talent in the red zone. This will be especially critical if Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce are having another slump, and also while Rice is suspended. It’s important for Taliaferro to prove himself now.
Another winner on the offensive side is backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Although he’s entering the last season of his contract, he still has to show that he can be better than rookie Keith Wenning. Joe Flacco has never missed a start in his five seasons, but Taylor fits Kubiak’s offense well. Taylor is better on the move rather than drop-back passes like Flacco. If Flacco were to get hurt this year, the Ravens are more prepared.
The defensive side of the team is also making great progress on the way back to where it used to be. Entering his third season, outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw is usually overlooked. His bigger size and physicality make him a dominant player for the defensive line, especially now that he is more familiar with the schemes. He has really come out of his shell this camp and I expect an explosive season from him.
Rookie C.J. Mosley has been a standout at camp, impressing the veterans including Terrell Suggs. He’s competing with second-year linebacker Arthur Brown for the starting job, but Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees is very pleased with Mosley’s performance this far. He’s proving that he can make a major difference on the defensive line and is improving each day. He’s said to have powerful instincts as well as athleticism.
It’s too soon to tell if these offensive and defensive improvements will be good enough when it really matters, but preseason will help give us an idea. Training camp has been a crucial time for the Baltimore Ravens and officials should have more information to make the difficult decisions ahead.