Paul Kruger has been interchangeable between rush outside linebacker -- injured NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs' old spot -- and strongside linebacker. Kruger's best spot is rush and he looks more comfortable than he did a year ago as a situational pass rusher. He's had to play strongside or Sam linebacker, where he's listed first on the depth chart, since rookie Courtney Upshaw has been out for the past week with a sprained right shoulder initially characterized as a bruise.

Upshaw reported at roughly 280 pounds and didn't pass the conditioning test on his first try. He's starting to drop some weight and is headed in the right direction of his goal of 270 pounds, but isn't there yet.

The Ravens need to get the former Alabama All-American on the field to gauge what they really have at outside linebacker.

Jameel McClain returns as the starting inside linebacker opposite Lewis, and retaining him on a three-year, $10.5 million contract is looking like a wise move.

Top reserve inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe has a nagging hamstring injury that has complicated his outlook considering he's making $1.927 million.

Outside linebacker Sergio Kindle's comeback bid continues as he's had his best camp since suffering a fractured skull prior to his rookie season. He suffered permanent hearing damage in that fall, but has regained his equilibrium and his confidence.

Kindle still needs to learn how to redirect his charge when he runs into trouble from blockers, and his spin move hasn't been effective against Osemele.

Albert McClellan is a valuable special-teams contributor who doubles as a steady linebacker.

Ricky Brown and Chavis Williams have been solid.

Undrafted rookie Nigel Carr is a big hitter who needs to refine other parts of his game.

SECONDARY

This is arguably the most talented part of the roster.

The Ravens are set at cornerback with $50 million shutdown cornerback Lardarius Webb, and are trying to decide between incumbent Cary Williams and former first-rounder Jimmy Smith opposite Webb.

Williams has had a better camp than Smith, who has battled leg and back ailments and has been beaten more often than the other corners. Williams has recovered from offseason surgery on his right hip to repair a torn labrum that he first hurt against the Seattle Seahawks last season.

Smith has prototypical size and speed. However, he still needs to improve his ability to diagnose plays and make plays on the ball.

Pro Bowl special-teams ace Corey Graham has had an eye-opening camp and has proven he deserves the playing time on defense that eluded him with the Chicago Bears.

After a rocky offseason where he contemplated retirement and dropped hints that he might hold out, Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed showed up on time and seems to be a rejuvenated man at camp.

Bernard Pollard is an intimidating hitter at strong safety.

Behind starting safeties Reed and Pollard, Sean Considine and rookie Christian Thompson have stood out more than Emanuel Cook.

Fifth-round cornerback Asa Jackson, a former Cal-Poly All-American, has reacted quickly to passing plays. He's pushing returning corners Danny Gorrer and Chykie Brown.

SPECIAL TEAMS

It's been an interesting battle between former Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff and undrafted rookie Justin Tucker.

Tucker is creating a viable challenge. The former University of Texas kicker has only missed three field goals during camp, connecting on 55 of 58 attempts since camp started.

Tucker made all seven attempts Saturday, including a 62-yarder. Cundiff hit 7 of 8 tries, narrowly coming up short from 65 yards. He has made 51 of 59 attempts in two weeks of camp.

Cundiff is under scrutiny due to his flubbed chip shot in the AFC title game that could have sent the game into overtime.

So far, he's done fine even though Tucker has a stronger leg and is less expensive. At this point, barring preseason game struggles, Cundiff is expected to retain his job.

The Ravens will place considerably more weight on preseason performances than how Cundiffand Tucker kick in practice.

Jones is penciled in as the starting punt returner and kick returner.

awilson@baltsun.com