As minicamp begins, so does training camp countdown

For most of the Ravens, this week's mandatory minicamp is simply a continuation of the organized team activities that have taken place over the past three weeks. For those Ravens who opted to stay away from the voluntary practices and work out on their own, this week serves as a reminder that training camp is fast approaching.

The 2015 Ravens will be together as a full team for the first time this week with workouts scheduled from Tuesday through Thursday at the Under Armour Performance Center. Players will practice for the final time before the start of training camp in July.


Veterans like Marshal Yanda, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil — none of whom attended OTAs — will get an opportunity to integrate with their new teammates, knock off some rust and improve their conditioning. Rookies can exhibit how much of the offense or defense they've grasped from earlier workouts, and see how they'll measure up against the Ravens' most experienced players. And the coaching staff will get a better idea of how all the pieces fit together and what areas need to be shored up.

Since the start of free agency in March triggered the Ravens' annual roster overhaul — Haloti Ngata was traded to the Detroit Lions, Torrey Smith signed with the San Francisco 49ers and Pernell McPhee left for the Chicago Bears — things have been relatively quiet for John Harbaugh's team.


However, this week's mandatory minicamp will start the countdown toward training camp and provide an answer to these four questions:

What will Terrell Suggs have to say?

The 32-year-old rush linebacker is the longest tenured member of the team and its most outspoken leader. If you want to get a sense of the mood in the Ravens locker room, Suggs is probably your best bet.

Two years ago, Suggs reported to mandatory minicamp and spoke in hushed tones, insisting that the Ravens were taking a business-like approach to their Super Bowl defense and he would do the same as the leader of a locker room that no longer had Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

Last year, Suggs vowed to get back to being himself both on the field and in the locker room, acknowledging that he was humbled by the team missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and by his disappointing finish to the 2013 campaign.

What will his message be this week?

Suggs is coming off a solid 12-sack season and he remains one of the team's most indispensable performers. He's played every game for consecutive seasons and he's signed through 2018, so his immediate future with the organization is secure. But Suggs will surely be asked about the trade of Ngata, his longtime teammate and close friend who was dealt in a cost-cutting move. Suggs restructured his contract days earlier to give the Ravens more salary cap flexibility.

How much will Dennis Pitta be able to do?


The Ravens have plenty of players coming back from season-ending injuries or offseason surgeries, but there is far more curiosity — and uncertainty — with Pitta than with any of his recovering teammates.

Since Pitta fractured and dislocated his hip last September for the second time in as many years, the lingering question is whether he'll ever play again. Harbaugh and the 29-year-old tight end have been consistent this offseason in saying that it's too early to know, that a decision won't be made until later this summer.

Big revelations are not expected this week, although Pitta's activity level could provide some clues. He looked more comfortable and active as the three-week OTA period moved along and Harbaugh insisted that the team hasn't counted Pitta out from playing in 2015.

Other rehabbing players to monitor this week include cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot), starting offensive linemen Rick Wagner (foot) and Jeremy Zuttah (hip) and safety Terrence Brooks (knee).

How will Eugene Monroe and Lardarius Webb look?

Monroe and Webb aren't returning from offseason surgeries, but the two established veterans fought through injuries and inconsistency in 2014. To build off last year's 10-6 mark and appearance in the AFC divisional playoff round, the Ravens need bounce-back efforts from both players who weren't present at the OTA sessions open to the media.


Monroe missed five regular-season games last year after being signed to a five-year, $37.5 million deal in the offseason, and he was steady but hardly spectacular when he was on the field. The Ravens know he is capable of playing better. Undrafted rookie James Hurst did an admirable job filling in for him, though the Ravens' offensive line is at its best with a healthy Monroe protecting Joe Flacco's blindside.

Webb started to play better later in the year after a significant back injury cost him most of training camp, three games and ultimately slowed him throughout the season. However, Webb has had a full offseason to get healthier and he showed his commitment to the organization by agreeing to take a pay cut.

The Ravens added safety Kendrick Lewis, veteran cornerback Kyle Arrington and rookie cornerback Tray Walker this offseason, but the key to an improved secondary is Jimmy Smith and Webb staying healthy and playing at a high level.

What position battles will take center stage?

Jobs will be won and lost primarily in training camp, but it's never too early to start dissecting position competitions.

The most analyzed competition will be at wide receiver, where seven receivers will seek to nail down one or two available openings behind Steve Smith, Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken and first-round NFL draft pick Breshad Perriman. Receivers Michael Campanaro and Aldrick Robinson are expected to miss the minicamp with injuries, leaving more opportunities for roster hopefuls Jeremy Butler, Darren Waller, DeAndre Carter, Daniel Brown and Cam Worthy.


As far as individual competitions, Lorenzo Taliaferro and Buck Allen will compete to be running back Justin Forsett's top backup and Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams will duel for the starting tight end job. On the other side of the ball, veteran Chris Canty is the likely starter at end, but how will the rest of the defensive line rotation play out with Kapron Lewis-Moore and Brent Urban healthy, DeAngelo Tyson and Lawrence Guy returning, and with the addition of rookie Carl Davis? At safety, Lewis and Will Hill are the presumed starters, but Ravens officials have continually praised former first-round pick Matt Elam this offseason.