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. Wednesday’s visit was with the wide receivers. Thursday’s visit is with the tight ends.
Returning veterans: No. 86 Nick Boyle, No. 87 Maxx Williams
Rookies: No. 89 Mark Andrews, No. 81 Hayden Hurst, No. 82 Nick Kelzer
What to look for in training camp: Despite their youth, Hurst, a first-round pick, and Andrews, a third-round choice, have already made quite an impression with observers and their teammates. Hurst, the South Carolina standout who was the franchise’s first pick in April at No. 25 overall, has upheld his pre-draft reputation as a sure-handed catcher, and Andrews, of Oklahoma, is another larger target in third-down and red-zone situations. Boyle and Williams will try to take advantage of their familiarity with Marty Mornhinweg’s offensive schemes, but they will have to do more on the field to assure their spots on the roster.
Outlook: Benjamin Watson led the team in catches (61), tied for first in touchdown receptions (four), and ranked second in receiving yards (522), but left in the offseason for the New Orleans Saints. Whether quantity (the addition of Hurst and Andrews) can replace quality (the play of Watson) remains to be seen. It is early, but the indicators are encouraging when it comes to Hurst and Andrews. The rookies’ contributions in the passing attack will be especially important considering that Boyle and Williams’ strengths are as blockers. The team kept four tight ends last season, but there is no assurance that will be the plan this year.
One stat from 2017: 289 combined receiving yards for Boyle and Williams, which was a little more than half of the yards totaled by Watson.