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Vensel: Story lines abound at Ravens' mini-camp

The shoulder pads will be stowed away in the locker room during the Ravens' first mini-camp in Owings Mills this weekend. There won't be hitting and tackling, but there will be plenty of intrigue as the 2010 season unofficially gets under way. That's because a Baltimore team that has won at least one playoff game in back-to-back seasons has gotten even better on paper.

With a few fresh faces coming on board to fill significant roles for a playoff-tested squad that is already being tabbed as a serious Super Bowl contender, fans will be treated to some pretty juicy story lines between now and the end of training camp in August.

The juiciest of the bunch revolve around the wide receiver position, which the Ravens upgraded significantly with the addition of Anquan Boldin (right, performing drills in January 2009; photo by AP) and Donte' Stallworth.

All eyes will be on Boldin, the game-breaking wide receiver acquired from Arizona in early March, as he works to gain a rapport with young quarterback Joe Flacco. This weekend will be the first time the media will get a chance to see them playing catch together. You can be sure that any fantastic snatch by Boldin will be sensationalized, and every missed connection will be scrutinized.

Also running routes for Flacco will be Stallworth, who is attempting to return to the NFL after pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter in 2009. Stallworth has faced the music for his transgressions. All that matters now is whether he can get in sync with Flacco. The Ravens don't need him to be a blazing downfield target for them to be successful, but it would certainly help.

Me? I'm rooting for the guy. He deserves a second chance.

But that means I might have to root against Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams, who finally have to fight for their roster spots this offseason. How will they respond to the challenge? Will they step up their games or drop the ball?

It would be foolish to just lock in on the wide receivers, with so many other interesting mini-camp subplots.
We'll get our first look at rookie linebacker Sergio Kindle, who despite never donning a purple jersey, has already named himself the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

And how could I miss rookie nose tackle Terrence Cody?

No, seriously. How could I miss Cody? He is so massive, his pendulous manboobs are rumored to have caused the oil spill in the Gulf — the one that's threatening to ruin my first real vacation in two years. Thanks a ton, Terrence.

Even some of the questions surrounding the old guys have me way too psyched for non-contact football.
Covering the Orioles will do that to you.

Will Terrell Suggs actually be in shape? How nasty is Ray Rice going to be this year? Is Ed Reed feeling any better?

Wait, Reed will be there, right? Does anybody know? I guess we won't find out for sure until Friday morning.
We won't get all of our answers this weekend. Most of these situations won't shake out until training camp. Thankfully, the final season of "Lost" has shown us good things come to those who wait. (OK, bad example.)

Until then, these three days of Flacco-to-Boldin hookups, little Ray Rice and big, pendulous manboobs will spark up enough tantalizing story lines to tide us over until late July.

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Matt Vensel is a content creator at b. Follow him on Twitter, @mattvensel.

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