The Baltimore Ravens open training camp on Thursday at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Maryland. Here’s a closer look at the Ravens' camp:
Top storyline: All eyes will be on quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson. Flacco is entering a critical season because the Ravens can trade or release him after the season, depending on how he performs. As safety Eric Weddle pointed out, Flacco has “obviously been challenged” by Baltimore's drafting Jackson in the first round. Flacco was impressive in spring workouts, aggressively pushing the ball downfield and showing more mobility by moving outside the pocket. Jackson, whom Baltimore drafted after trading up to the No. 32 overall pick, has impressed teammates and coaches with his speed and his dedication to learning the system. The Ravens have worked on special packages (lining him up at different positions) to get Jackson on the field immediately, but they are committed to developing him as a quarterback.
QB depth chart: The Ravens insist that Flacco is the team’s starting quarterback for the 11th straight season. The big question is who will serve as his primary backup. Robert Griffin III has previous starting experience, but Jackson has been getting the second-most reps in spring workouts. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he expects Jackson to be active on game days. It will be interesting to see how many quarterbacks the Ravens keep on the 53-man roster. They haven’t carried three quarterbacks in the regular season since 2009.
Bubble watch: Wide receiver Breshad Perriman. The 2015 first-round pick might not make it far this summer. Perriman is due a $649,485 bonus on the third day of Baltimore's training camp, and he has been among the bigger disappointments in team history. He didn’t produce more than 28 yards receiving in a game last season, and he has gone 15 games without a touchdown. Two high draft picks in 2016 also are fighting for roster spots after failing to crack the starting lineup: linebacker Kamalei Correa (second round) and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi (third round).
This rookie could start: Hayden Hurst. The first-round pick is the best pass-catching tight end on the team. There’s a reason the Ravens used the No. 25 overall pick on Hurst after not re-signing Benjamin Watson and not being able to lure Eric Ebron to Baltimore. The only experienced tight ends on the roster are those who excel in blocking (Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams) and on special teams (Vince Mayle). Hurst should make an immediate impact after standing out in the offseason with his hands, route running and quickness. How much does Baltimore’s passing game rely on this position? Only four quarterbacks since 2012 have completed more than 500 passes to tight ends: Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady and Flacco. Third-round rookie
Health not a concern: When was the last time the Ravens entered camp without a significant injury concern to a prominent player? Two starters who finished the season on injured reserve -- cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles) and guard Marshal Yanda (ankle) -- appear on course for the start of camp (or, at the very least, the first part of it). Smith surprisingly participated in individual drills during mandatory minicamp, which is an encouraging sign. Yanda hasn’t practiced this offseason, but he looked fine running across the field during one portion of minicamp. Last year, the Ravens opened camp with Flacco (back), tight end Dennis Pitta (hip), cornerback Tavon Young (ACL) and running back Kenneth Dixon (knee) all sidelined.
Will the Ravens sign inside linebacker C.J. Mosley to an extension? The Ravens call Mosley the quarterback of their defense, and he did all the right things this offseason. Unlike other players who’ve held out on their fifth-year options (the Cowboys’ Zack Martin and the Rams’ Aaron Donald), Mosley attended Baltimore’s entire offseason program. “I’m very proud of what he’s done throughout the course of the offseason, and I’m very confident -- and I think he feels the same way -- that things will get taken care of,” coach John Harbaugh said at the mandatory minicamp. However, given that Baltimore signed Smith to an extension in April when he was in his fifth-year option, one has to wonder what’s taking so long.
For daily updates at camp, check out the Baltimore Ravens clubhouse page.