The next seven weeks figure to be an immensely important stretch for the Ravens as they attempt to assess certain position battles and the strength of their overall roster. Several veterans might find themselves on the bubble, while a few rookies — drafted and undrafted — might spark conversation.
Training camp opens July 19 at 11:50 a.m. when the team will be on the field for its first full-squad practice. The first preseason game is Aug. 2 against the Chicago Bears in the Hall of Fame Game, and the final cuts for the 53-man active roster will take place Sept. 1.
Injuries, individual performances and possible additions could play a role in determining the roster before the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium.
Here is a position-by-position look at the veterans and newcomers jockeying for roster spots. Tuesday’s visit was with the linebackers. Wednesday’s visit is with the defensive backs.
Returning veterans: No. 26 Maurice Canady, No. 24 Brandon Carr, No. 36 Chuck Clark, No. 43 Jaylen Hill, No. 29 Marlon Humphrey, No. 38 Stanley Jean-Baptiste, No. 23 Tony Jefferson, No. 41 Anthony Levine Sr., No. 22 Jimmy Smith, No. 32 Eric Weddle, No. 25 Tavon Young
New veterans: No. 39 Bennett Jackson, No. 31 Kai Nacua
Rookies: No. 28 Anthony Averett, No. 21 DeShon Elliott, No. 33 Jackson Porter, No. 27 Darious Williams
What to look for in training camp: While the team does not anticipate the immediate return of Hill from a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee suffered Dec. 23 after placing him on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list Monday, the absence of Smith — who tore his left Achilles tendon Dec. 3 — from the PUP list is an encouraging sign. And the cornerback position welcomes back Young from a torn ACL in his left knee suffered June 1, 2017. Barring injury or ineffectiveness, Averett, a fourth-round pick, and Elliott, a sixth-round choice, could cement spots on the active roster.
Outlook: The absence of Smith for an extended period of time would ordinarily raise a huge red flag, but those concerns have been assuaged by the presence of Humphrey, who ranked second on the defense in pass breakups (11) and had two interceptions as the franchise’s first-round selection in 2017. Humphrey and Carr at cornerback and Weddle and Jefferson at safety form a formidable base for the secondary. Young was projected as the unit’s top slot corner before his injury, but Canady proved last season that he can play the position. Levine is versatile enough to play cornerback or safety or linebacker, and Clark may warrant more playing time after a solid rookie campaign. Jean-Baptiste’s 6-foot-3 frame might be offset by his inexperience.
One stat from 2017: 22 interceptions, which led the NFL.