The Baltimore Ravens wrapped up their offseason workouts last week. Here are five things we learned:
1. The Ravens passing attack will look different
Cam Cameron loved throwing the deep ball, and Gary Kubiak favors quick-hitting passes. This isn't giving away classified secrets to point out Kubiak wants Joe Flacco to make higher percentage throws and do it with a faster release. The Ravens are still going to take their shots downfield, especially off play action. It would be crazy not to do so with Flacco's arm. The focus of the passing offense, however, has clearly shifted.
2. There are new starters on defense coming out of the offseason
Nose tackle Brandon Williams, inside linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Darian Stewart. Williams has run with the first team as Arthur Jones' replacement all offseason, and Mosley moved up to the starting defense at last week's minicamp. It wasn't shocking to see Stewart get first crack at starting free safety, given his experience and history with secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo. It was a surprise to see how well he played. Stewart may now be the favorite to start the season opener.
3. The starting right tackle job is Rick Wagner's to lose
There really is no competition after the Ravens didn't draft an offensive tackle or sign a significant one in free agency. Wagner has run exclusively with the starters, and he looks stronger and more comfortable than last year's rookie season. If he struggles once the hitting starts in training camp, the Ravens would have to think about signing someone in free agency or wait until the final cutdown. But Wagner has made the most of his opportunity so far. Also, guard Kelechi Osemele is no longer a question mark. Coming off season-ending back surgery, Osemele has had no setbacks and was one of the more impressive players this offseason.
After watching both young defenders all offseason, the Ravens decided to sign veteran cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Dominique Franks before breaking until training camp. Brown and Jackson have made plays, but no one would say they have necessarily stood out this offseason. My guess is either Ross or Franks wins the nickelback job. Plus, the Ravens would have more confidence in turning to an experienced corner if one of their starters, Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb, got hurt.
5. Ray Rice is definitely in better shape this year
There is uncertainty on how many games the Ravens will have running back Rice in uniform this season. There still has been no word on Rice's potential suspension by the NFL. The Ravens, though, should have less concern about Rice on the field. He's leaner, quicker and more explosive than last season. Rice will need to prove himself when the hitting starts in training camp and in the preseason. There has been a lot of buzz about free-agent addition Justin Forsett this offseason, but the Ravens were more impressed with what they saw out of Rice when he darted through the running lanes.