The Baltimore Ravens are about three weeks into training camp/ preseason and the regular season is quickly approaching. Officials will soon be facing decision time in order to reach the final 53-man roster.
Training camp has been a time of renewal for the Ravens and great improvements have been accomplished. There is still some substantial time for players to prove what they can bring to the team, but competition is high. Despite the position battles, there have been clear standouts and clear disappointments.
Regardless of his competition with rookie Keith Wenning, backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor is bringing immense effort to the field this camp. He totaled 116 passing yards, 59 rushing yards, and a touchdown pass in the Ravens’ preseason win against the San Francisco 49ers Thursday. Wenning was expected to become a powerful performer as early as this offseason, but Taylor was the noticeable winner. Taylor fits Gary Kubiak’s system perfectly and will provide a legitimate backup plan for Joe Flacco this year.
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk has had an outstanding offseason and could become a major part of Kubiak’s offense. He gives his all at each practice and successfully runs routes, which the Ravens need. He has the hands to make tough catches and played a crucial role in the preseason opener, catching three passes for 28 yards. I expect to see even more explosive plays from him this season.
Although the offense is obviously most improved, defense is also making progress. Asa Jackson, Chykie Brown, and Dominique Franks are the key competitors for the third cornerback spot. Right now Jackson has the edge, especially after recording an interception in the preseason opener. Jackson has the least playing time out of the three, but he has been a significant performer this camp and shown remarkable versatility. However, with Jackson’s minor ankle injury keeping him out for a few days, Brown and Franks have more opportunities to prove themselves.
Wide receiver Deonte Thompson entered training camp as an early leader, but it’s a different story now. He seems to have fallen off the radar this offseason, especially as the younger receivers begin to step up. Kamar Aiken came out of nowhere and might be taking away some of Thompson’s previous certainty. Rookie Michael Campanaro and Jeremy Butler are two more threats, so Thompson needs to show why he is still worth a spot on the 53-man roster.
Inside linebacker Arthur Brown shouldn’t be so sure of his place on the roster after the early success of rookie C.J. Mosley. Eventually Brown and Mosley might make a good pair, but for now they are expected to split their time on the field. Brown is behind Mosley on the unofficial depth chart, so he might not have performed as exceptionally as he should have this offseason. Brown needs to improve his pass coverage and make big changes this week if he wants to reach the top.
Cornerback Chykie Brown has recently become a disappointment after coming to camp as a leader. Jackson is showing that he has what it takes to be the third corner, but Brown is doing the opposite. He quickly earned two pass interference penalties in the preseason opener and didn’t make much of a difference while he played most of the first half. When competing for a position, the player needs to impress officials with explosive moves like Jackson’s interception Thursday night. Brown has not been doing this and will need to make some progress this week.
Competition intensifies each day and decision-making time will be here soon. The Ravens are showing great potential so far, especially on offense. Hopefully officials can make the right decisions when finalizing the 53-man roster. Who do you think were the winners and losers of the Ravens’ offseason?