Baltimore Ravens Training Camp: 5 Battles Worth Watching
5 Battles Worth Watching
Training Camp will be around the corner before you know it and when that happens, the 2013 NFL season will be around the corner from that. Only a few more weeks of this so called "dark" period for the league. Needless to say, the start of camp will be when things start to get interesting for all the 32 teams. This is when starting jobs are won for some and mere roster spots for others.
The defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens have had an unprecedented offseason, as they are the only defending champion to have the amount of turnover that they did. In addition to no longer having future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, the Ravens will also be without the services of Cary Williams, Paul Kruger, Danelle Ellerbe, Anquan Boldin, Matt Birk and Bernard Pollard. This is starting to become a yearly tradition for the Ravens though and they had a plan.
To help overcome the losses, the Ravens added several key pieces to not only fill the void, but possibly improve on last year's squad, with guys like Elvis Dumervil, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Michael Huff and draft picks Matt Elam and Arthur Brown. The competition in camp should be fierce to say the least. I'll be highlighting five position battles that will be the most competitive and most interesting to watch throughout the Ravens training camp. These battles are in no particular order as I consider all of them pretty important. That's it for now, enjoy and start clicking away my friends.
Tyrod Taylor vs. Caleb Hanie
It's possible that both guys make the team, but the past few years the Ravens have only carried to QBs. I don't expect that change this year. The competition should be a fierce one to back up Joe Flacco. Hanie is the classic drop back guy, while Taylor is more of a read option kind of guy. Taylor is probably the favorite to win right now, but not by much. Should be interesting.
Terrance Cody vs. Brandon Willaims
Terrance Cody has not quite lived up to expectations of being the dominant run stuffer up the middle that the Ravens hoped for. Brandon Williams was drafted in the third round of this year's draft and should give Cody a run for his money for the starting job. It's time for Cody to put up or shut up.
Jimmy Smith vs. Corey Graham
Not an important battle in the grand scheme of things. Both guys will see plenty of playing time in the pass happy world of the NFL. I think this battle is more important to the psyche of Jimmy Smith. Smith was a first round draft pick in 2011, with the expectations of being the next great shut down corner for the Ravens. Smith's first two seasons have been injury plagued and disappointing. Smith has showed strong in the postseason both years, but needs to parlay that in the regular season, too. It's time for Smith to earn his stripes and it's not going to be easy against Corey Graham.
The Ravens are set on the offensive line with the exception of the center position. Gino Gradkowski was drafted last year as the heir apparent to Matt Birk, who has just recently retired. Just like everyone else, Gino is going to have to earn it and surprise, surprise, it's not going to be easy. The Ravens added veteran A.Q Shipley and drafted Ryan Jensen. Just like every position on the team, the best player will be on the field on opening night.
Now, this is the position on the team that has gotten the most press. With the departure of Anquan Boldin, there really isn't a proven veteran to take his place. Torrey Smith is a lock to be a starter, but besides him, it's totally wide open. Jacoby Jones is the most experienced receiver on the roster, but he's not a starter and shouldn't be because he should still be the main return guy for this team. Tandon Doss is the guy mostly in the mold of Boldin, but he's unproven. Deonte Thompson probably has the most upside and definitely the most speed. David Reed, Tommy Streeter, LaQuan Williams and Aaron Mellette also have a lot to bring to the table. The wide receiver position is the most wide open (no pun intended) competition on this team and should be the most interesting battle to watch. Several spots are up for grabs.
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