The Ravens are nearing the two-week mark of training camp, so it's a good time to look at how some of the "bubble" guys are faring.
Five who have improved their stock:
Quincy Adeboyejo, WR: It was a remarkable turnaround last week for the undrafted rookie out of Mississippi. He went from being carted off the field in practice in obvious pain to returning the next day. He hasn't stopped making big plays since. That form will need to translate to the preseason games, but he's put himself in a good position.
Buck Allen, RB: The third-year back came to camp as the forgotten man. That has changed as he's running hard, decisively hitting holes and reeling off nice runs. Allen clearly came to camp with something to prove after his fall down the depth chart last season.
Jaylen Hill, DB: A former Jacksonville State player, he wasn't even part of the team's original undrafted free-agent class. He ultimately was signed after he tried out for the team at the rookie minicamp. He's an athletic, feisty corner and he's flashed throughout camp. The team's lack of depth in the slot will help his cause.
Patrick Ricard, DL: He plays with so much energy and effort. He's proved more than capable of beating his man in one-on-one pass rush drills. The Ravens are loaded along the defensive line, but the undrafted rookie out of Maine is the kind of young defensive lineman the Ravens usually find a way to keep.
Tim White, WR: Elusive and explosive, the undrafted free agent out of Arizona State has seemingly made at least one impressive play in each practice. That he was part of the first team at different times of Saturday's practice, albeit it with Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman sidelined, shows that coaches want to get a longer look.
Honorable mention: Willie Henry, DT; Taquan Mizzell, RB; Reggie Porter, CB; Matt Skura, C; Brent Urban, DE.
Five who haven't:
Brandon Boykin, CB: It's not that the veteran has been noticeably getting beat a lot. He just hasn't been around the ball all that much or gotten many opportunities. A little rust probably should have been excepted after he was sidelined all last season.
James Hurst, OT: Let me be clear: Hurst has had a solid camp. He looks physically bigger and stronger and he's playing with more confidence. The addition of Austin Howard, though, means he's now in line for a reserve role.
Chris Matthews, WR: When training camp began, he appeared to be one of the favorites for one of the final two wide receiver spots. He's had his moments in practice, but he's been outplayed to this point by White and Adeboyejo. He's also missed two consecutive practices with an undisclosed injury.
Chris Moore, WR: Last year's fourth-round pick is almost certainly going to make the team. However, it surely would be reassuring to the coaching staff for him to be a little more consistent in practice. He's made a couple of really nice catches but also mixed in a few inexcusable drops.
Za'Darius Smith, OLB: Much like Hurst, Smith hasn't had a bad camp at all. He's knocked down a few passes and been pretty active and aggressive. Still, it's unclear where he fits with the Ravens having Terrell Suggs, Matthew Judon, Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser on the outside.
Others worth mentioning: Kenny Bell, WR; Carl Davis, DT; Stephane Nembot, OT; Sheldon Price, CB; Bobby Rainey, RB.
Logjam at defensive end
Barring injuries, the Ravens are going to have some difficult choices to make along the defensive line, where they have a young and talented group. Of their eight defensive linemen, two of them are rookies (Ricard and Chris Wormley), three are technically in their second year (Michael Pierce, Bronson Kaufusi and Willie Henry; neither Kaufusi nor Henry got into a game last year) and Davis is in his third year. Brandon Williams and Urban aren't exactly grizzled veterans either. The Ravens probably won't be able to keep all eight of them on their 53-man roster to open the regular season. It could be Henry, Davis and Ricard battling for one spot. Ricard might be at a disadvantage in that competition given his undrafted free-agent status, but he's outplayed Henry and Davis through the first two weeks of camp. Teams love poaching Ravens defensive linemen because the success the team has had in identifying and developing quality players at that position, so it's hardly a sure thing they could pass Ricard through waivers and store him on the practice squad. As I've written before, the best bet might be to try and get something in return for either Davis or Henry.
Undrafted but undaunted: The Ravens have kept at least one undrafted free agent on the regular season-opening roster in every year of Harbaugh's tenure. That streak will almost certainly continue this year. The organization, which has a long history of finding undrafted gems, has seemingly put together one of its better college free-agent classes in years. Although it's early, Adeboyejo, White and Ricard are all off to great starts and have put themselves in good position. Hill and Mizzell have flashed. Ricky Ortiz remains in competition with Lorenzo Taliaferro for the starting fullback role. Porter, Bam Bradley and Donald Payne have done some nice things as well.
Has the ship sailed on Kaepernick? That sure seems to be the case. If the Ravens didn't sign him last week when there was more uncertainty about Joe Flacco's back, when Ryan Mallett was struggling mightily and when they had more cap space, I can't see them making the move now. By all accounts, Flacco continues to make good progress and is nearing a return to the field. Mallett is playing a little better. And the Ravens just used much of their remaining cap space to sign Howard.
Another offensive lineman still needed: The consensus from outside the team is that after the Howard deal, the Ravens still need to find a center and try and upgrade over Ryan Jensen. Unless Nick Mangold suddenly decides that he wants to play and is willing to take a modest amount of money to do it, I just don't know where that upgrade is going to come from. Center is not a position where you can just plug somebody in late in the season. You need to know the line calls and the blocking schemes. You need to be in lockstep with the quarterback and the rest of the offensive line. The later we get here in the summer, the more likely it is that Jensen will be the guy. The Ravens, however, still should look into adding a veteran interior offensive lineman. After John Urschel's retirement and Nico Siragusa's knee injury, it isn't clear who is the top interior backup. Is it Skura who is competing for the center job while also getting repetitions at both guard spots? Is it rookie fifth-round pick Jermaine Eluemunor? An additional veteran, sort of like Vladimir Ducasse last year, would give the team a little more insurance. You probably could get that type of piece for pretty cheap as well.