With the free agent market pretty much picked through, the Ravens' best avenue to make a significant upgrade at cornerback is via a training-camp trade.
Completing one, however, is complicated by several factors. Cornerback has become a critical position in the pass-happy NFL and the demand clearly exceeds the supply.
Several teams, including the Ravens, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys, could use cornerback help, but there are not a whole lot of teams interested in parting with theirs. It's also fair to question what the Ravens would trade to get a quality corner.
Late in training camp, teams occasionally consummate deals where they both trade from a position of strength. However, it’s hard to find a position – maybe inside linebacker or wide receiver? – where the Ravens are so deep that they can afford to move a player without it really weakening them at that spot.
Perhaps they could have gotten away with trading a defensive lineman when training camp began, but not any longer with the uncertainty about Terrence Cody’s health and the season-ending injuries to Brent Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore.
They can always trade a draft pick, but they’ve already done that to acquire center Jeremy Zuttah and wide receiver Michael Campanaro, and it seems unlikely that team officials would want to dip into their pool of picks even more regardless of how many compensatory picks they have coming. But the situation has certainly gotten dire enough to consider all options.
I’m asked regularly about the possibility of the Ravens signing Asante Samuel, despite it being unclear if he's even interested in continuing his NFL career. Samuel reportedly wasn't interested when the Jets contacted him earlier this week.
Perhaps the Ravens would get his attention, but it's fair to wonder why it hasn't happened already if mutual interest exists. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees had the same job with the New England Patriots when Samuel was playing there, so the Ravens know plenty about the veteran.
Joint practices praised
Ravens and 49ers players and coaches were laying it on pretty thick on Monday when they spoke of the benefits of joint practices and how much both teams and staffs got along.
Admittedly, I’m surprised how smoothly things went. It’s not that I expected a disaster, complete with brawls, a slew of injuries and cheap and choppy play. But being asked to share the same facility and practice fields 18 months after they met in the Super Bowl and two days after they played a preseason game was a recipe for some fireworks.
It’s a credit to both organizations and both head coaches that the practices remained productive and professional. And the Ravens certainly set the tone by giving up so much of their meeting space and making the San Francisco players feel at home with moves such as painting the 49ers' logo in the end zones on one of the practice fields.
The benefits of the arrangement should show in the days ahead. If you're the Ravens, I'd imagine that you can't help but get better by practicing against a team as talented as the 49ers for three days.
As my colleague, Aaron Wilson, wrote in Tuesday's notebook, the Ravens plan to return the visit and work out at the 49ers' facility in California in a future training camp. However, it’s not definite that it will be next summer.
The Ravens will visit the 49ers for a regular-season game next season and I'd have to think the two organizations and coaching staffs, which keep things very close to the vest, wouldn't want to become too familiar with each other with a regular-season game on tap.
The season-ending Achilles injury to Lewis-Moore was a shame for a player who had worked so hard to come back from a significant knee injury.
I had spoken to Lewis-Moore on a couple of occasions during training camp and he couldn’t hide his excitement to be back. You could tell how much respect his teammates had for him, just by the reaction to his injury.
Almost immediately, players dropped to their knee in prayer. Lewis-Moore now has another long and difficult rehab ahead. As for the Ravens, DeAngelo Tyson is a quality backup and he'll do fine playing behind Chris Canty. But I couldn’t tell you right now who will provide depth behind Tyson.
No roster drama
Really, other than a couple of the final wide receivers spots, there isn’t a whole lot of roster drama right now for the Ravens. But the quarterback situation behind Joe Flacco is still worth watching.
Long-time backup Tyrod Taylor has had an uneven training camp, and sixth-round pick Keith Wenning has shown flashes, but still has a ways to go. Do the Ravens go with two quarterbacks again and try to pass Wenning through waivers and get him on the practice squad? Is Taylor safe as the backup?
What could complicate the situation is if Case Keenum, who Gary Kubiak worked with in Houston, is let go by the Texans in the coming days. There's also been some talk that the Ravens could be interested in Pat Devlin, who was just released by the Miami Dolphins. However, I'm not sure he's an upgrade over Taylor.
Injury bug bites the AFC North
The Ravens aren’t alone among AFC North teams suffering injuries in recent days.
A few weeks seems pretty optimistic with an injury like that, so there appears to be a good chance that Jones will be sidelined when the Bengals open the season against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 7.
That’s a big loss, as Jones had 51 catches and 10 touchdown receptions last season.