The Baltimore Ravens are looking to take the next step in 2021 toward making noise in the AFC playoffs and winning a Super Bowl, and in order to do that, the team is going to need to find a way to get balanced production across their roster.
When training camp gets underway later on this month, there are going to be plenty of battles to watch and plenty of things to settle at many different spots on the team.
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What spots will be primed for the major showdowns come training camp? Here’s a look at the most important positions to remember in terms of intense competition in Ravens camp.
Obviously, the Ravens are set with Mark Andrews set to haul in some passes this season, but the real intrigue lies with what happens behind him. The Ravens have Nick Boyle coming back off injury as well as the recently-added Josh Oliver. Additionally, the team has Eric Tomlinson, Jacob Breeland, Eli Wolf and rookie undrafted free agent Tony Poljan on the roster. Andrews and Boyle feel like locks and Oliver is a good bet to make the team as well given the Ravens coughed up a draft asset for him in the offseason, but seeing what happens further down will be interesting. The Ravens need to find a running mate for Andrews, and with Boyle as more of a blocker, the hope is that Oliver ca provide the team what they lost with Hayden Hurst a few years ago.
As has been pointed out many times this offseason, the Ravens have some major holes in their pass rush. The team lost Matt Judon this offseason, and his production will be tough to recoup. Baltimore added Odafe Oweh as well as Daelin Hayes in the draft, re-signed linebacker Tyus Bowser and also have Pernell McPhee, Jaylon Ferguson and Calais Campbell to their benefit. There’s a lot of players that could step up, but putting all of them through the test to see who can pass will be the huge goal for the team. Obviously, the Ravens will want to see their young guys step up, so that will be the hope at the spot. The point stands, however, that the team will not achieve their future goals without getting some players to get it going up front.
If there is one spot that would be projected to produce the fiercest battle of the offseason, it would be at wideout. The Ravens have established players on the roster such as Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay and James Proche, but are looking to break others in such as rookies Rashad Bateman and Tylan Wallace. Add to that the competition that will be provided by Sammy Watkins and suddenly, it’s a major spot of intrigue for the team. Baltimore wants to see the young players step up and start to be counted, so there will be a major battle for the team to watch at this spot on offense.
Lamar Jackson is entrenched as the starter, that much can be assumed. Even such, as 2020 showed, the team might need a fallback option if Jackson gets injured. With Robert Griffin III gone, on the roster is Trace McSorley, who could be expected to be the backup. How sold are the Ravens with McSorley, though? Tyler Huntley is on the roster, and the Ravens may not carry three quarterbacks as they have in the past, which means McSorley could have to earn his keep this year. He played well when pressed into duty this year, but it will be fascinating to see who is kept behind Jackson thanks to the wear and tear that is put on him season to season.
At this spot, the Ravens are loaded with talent given the fact that DeShon Elliott and Chuck Clark are locking down both spots, but the team added to the mix with Brandon Stephens and also maintains Anthony Levine, Nigel Warrior, Jordan Richards, Geno Stone and Ar’Darius Washington. Seeing what players stand out on special teams will be just as important as figuring out who will play behind the starters, so that will be a good watch at this position.
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