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Some things to look for as the Ravens prepare for mandatory minicamp

The Baltimore Sun

With the Ravens having missed two organized team activities before this week’s mandatory minicamp because coach John Harbaugh and the organization were penalized by the NFL, here are some things to look for from the team before it breaks for the summer:

» Will quarterback Joe Flacco and his new receiving corps continue to make progress? Some observers have suggested that Flacco looks healthier and is throwing the ball better than he has in years. Top free-agent signee Michael Crabtree has taken a leadership role with the young receivers and everyone is trying to get on the same page. “He’s been a good leader. Crab has done a great job,” Harbaugh said after a May practice. “He’s a really hard worker. He’s got a great feel for the game. A lot of the tricks of the trade, he understands, and he’s willing to share with those guys. So he’s been great for our locker room, for our meeting room.” Tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews, drafted in the first and third rounds, respectively, look like they’ll be able to stretch the middle of the field.

» Where will the dominoes fall on the new offensive line? Beyond starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley and starting right guard Marshal Yanda, the other three spots are open. Alex Lewis, presumed to be the starting left guard, has played some at center in OTAs; Matt Skura, penciled in at center, has played guard; James Hurst, competing for right tackle, has also played guard; and third-round draft pick Orlando Brown Jr. has been at right tackle at times with Hurst. Harbaugh said now is the time to experiment and find the best unit.

» Can the Ravens avoid the injury bug? Just over a year ago, the Ravens lost cornerback Tavon Young to a torn ACL during an OTA, and lost more players during training camp. Young is back and ready to contribute, but there’s nothing worse than losing a player for the season while practicing in the offseason. Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry tore an ACL during a workout last month.

» Who will play next to C.J. Mosley at linebacker? One seemingly gaping hole that exists on defense is the weak-side linebacker spot next to Mosley. Kamalei Correa has been shuttling between inside and outside linebacker, leaving Patrick Onwuasor, Bam Bradley (coming off injury), draft pick Kenny Young from UCLA and recently signed undrafted linebacker Chris Board from North Dakota State. Valued special teams performer and linebacker Albert McClellan is also coming off a knee injury. Surely the Ravens will look to bring in a veteran for training camp, at least for competition.

» How will the backup quarterback situation shake out? All eyes will be on the electric Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner from Louisville, as he begins his NFL career and tries to win the backup role behind Flacco. The Ravens also signed Robert Griffin III, the 2012 Washington Redskins No. 1 pick and 2011 Heisman winner, in the offseason to compete for the job. With Jackson signing last week, all the draft picks are under contract except first pick Hayden Hurst. Jackson has been as advertised in the May practices, showing his incredible athleticism but having some problems throwing the ball.

» What kind of mood will Harbaugh be in this week? For a coach who stresses preparation and being ready for anything on the field, missing two OTAs for a practice violation has to hurt. How will he react this week to being asked about it?

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