Still in the midst of their offseason workout program, the Ravens will transfer into the organized team activities phase May 23. That's when players will spend more time on the field. That's also when it becomes a little clearer where certain players stand in the preliminary depth chart heading into training camp.

Much of the attention this offseason has been on the team's free-agent additions and the seven draft picks. However, team officials believe their roster has several returning players who are capable of stepping into more prominent roles in 2017.

Advertisement

Below is a look at eight players who aren't getting much attention but figure to be factors in position battles when training camp begins.

Buck Allen, RB: A fourth-round pick in 2015, Allen had 876 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns as a rookie. He seemed poised for a significant role on offense last season, but that never materialized. Allen had only 12 touches for 49 yards in 2016 and spent a chunk of the season as a healthy gameday inactive. He's behind Terrance West, Kenneth Dixon and Danny Woodhead on the depth chart. With Dixon suspended for the first four games, Allen, Lorenzo Taliaferro and undrafted rookie Taquan Mizzell might be competing for one roster spot. Allen is the favorite to seize it, but he needs to run with far more decisiveness than he showed in games and practices last year.

Maurice Canady, DB: The Ravens top four cornerbacks are Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Tavon Young and first-round pick Marlon Humphrey. Their top three safeties are Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson and Lardarius Webb. Barring injuries, it's going to be tough for any of the team's other defensive backs to earn a prominent role. However, the Ravens really like Canady, a sixth-round pick last year who spent much of his rookie season on injured reserve. He should contribute on special teams, and he'll be an option to step in at either corner or safety.

Crockett Gillmore, TE:  Gillmore emerged as one of Joe Flacco's most trusted targets during the first half of the 2015 season. Then, the injuries hit and they haven't relented. Gillmore has missed 15 games over the past two seasons. While much of the offseason attention has been on whether Dennis Pitta can stay healthy for a second straight year and whether Benjamin Watson and Maxx Williams can return from injuries, Gillmore's health bears watching as well. A physical blocker with sure hands, Gillmore might be the best two-way tight end the Ravens have if he's healthy.

Chris Matthews, WR: Remember Matthews, the former Seattle Seahawk who had a breakout performance in Super Bowl XLIX with 109 receiving yards and a touchdown? Matthews spent last season with the Ravens on injured reserve, but he remains on the roster. Depending on how the front office's elongated search for a proven pass catcher turns out, he could get an opportunity to earn one of the final receiving spots. At 6 feet 5 and 228 pounds, Matthews provides a physical presence that is lacking in many of the team's receiving options.

Albert McClellan, LB: McClellan is one of the team's core special teamers. An 11-game starter last season, he's also one of its more versatile defensive players, having started games both at inside and outside linebacker. With the team suddenly well stocked on the outside, McClellan could enter the equation as a potential replacement for Zachary Orr at weak-side linebacker. Kamalei Correa is the favorite for that job, but the unheralded McClellan is reliable and well respected by the coaching staff and teammates.

Patrick Onwuasor, ILB: Orr made the team as an undrafted rookie, quickly became one of the Ravens' best special teams players and then ultimately won the starting weak-side linebacker job last year. Could Onwuasor follow a similar path? The undrafted player out of Portland State led the Ravens with 11 special teams stops last season despite spending the first five weeks on the practice squad. He also started the team's final regular-season game at linebacker when Orr went down with a neck injury. He'll be in the mix with Correa and possibly McClellan for the starting job next to C.J. Mosley.

Za'Darius Smith, OLB: Smith had 5½ sacks as a rookie and seemed well on his way to filling the void of Pernell McPhee, the player he was drafted to replace. But after a one-sack sophomore season, Matthew Judon's promising rookie year and the addition of edge rushers Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams, it suddenly isn't clear where Smith fits. The Ravens will find ways to get their top pass rushers onto the field, but Smith will need to earn those snaps with a productive summer.

Brent Urban, DE: It seems the consensus is that third-round picks from the past two drafts, Bronson Kaufusi and Chris Wormley, are the likely candidates to replace Lawrence Guy in the starting five-technique defensive end spot. However, Urban could have something to say about that. A fourth-round pick in 2014, he was on the field for just 14 percent of the Ravens' defensive snaps in 2016, and he had two sacks. Heading into his fourth NFL season – he missed his entire rookie campaign with a knee injury  - Urban has the advantage in experience over Kaufusi and Wormley. He'll need to play big in the preseason.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement