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 may find themselves on the bubble, while a few rookies – drafted and undrafted – may spark conversation.
Training camp opens Thursday 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 in Baltimore. Here is a position-by-position look at the veterans and newcomers jockeying for roster spots. Friday’s visit was with the offensive linemen. Monday’s visit is with the defensive linemen.
Returning veterans: No. 94 Carl Davis, No. 69 Willie Henry, No. 92 Bronson Kaufusi, No. 97 Michael Pierce, No. 42 Patrick Ricard, No. 96 Brent Urban, No. 98 Brandon Williams, No. 93 Chris Wormley
Rookies: No. 59 Myles Humphrey, No. 91 Christian LaCouture, No. 95 Zach Sieler
What to look for in training camp: While Williams and Pierce are known commodities in the defense’s 3-4 alignment, many eyes will be on Urban, who sat out the final 13 games of last season because of a Lisfranc injury suffered in a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 24 in London. If he is unable to replicate his performance from the 2017 preseason that bred high hopes, Davis (19 tackles, one pass knockdown and a half-sack) or Henry (23 tackles, 3½ sacks, five pass knockdowns and two fumble recoveries) could be poised to earn more playing time.
Outlook: Williams and Pierce anchor a unit that ranked 15th in the league against the run, but the duo combined for only one sack. If they can contribute more to the Ravens’ pass rush, they’d help the defense’s ability to be creative in its blitz packages and relieve some pressure on the secondary in passing downs. The onus will be on Kaufusi and Wormley to bounce back from quietly disappointing campaigns and prove worthy of their third-round-pick pedigrees. Ricard, who doubles as a fullback, provides more depth at defensive end. Sieler was Ozzie Newsome’s final pick as the franchise’s general manager.
One stat from 2017: Three 100-yard rushers allowed, the Ravens’ fewest since 2014, when the defense was in the midst of a 29-game streak in which it did not allow a 100-yard rusher.