It’s training camp time in the NFL, which means that the preseason is right around the corner, followed by the holy grail that is the regular season. In this segment, I’m going to take a look at 5 Baltimore Ravens’ players that are on the hot seat, as far as making the 53-man roster, and need to have a great training camp to be considered. Keep in mind that the cuts are not necessarily because the players lack talent, rather, because of the wealth of talent that is on the roster as outlined in my position battles article.
When the Ravens drafted Michael Campanaro, or ‘Camp’, as he is known, in 2014, they had a vision of developing into a slot receiver that could move the chains. Unfortunately, he’s spent more time in the training room than on the field over the last two seasons. Entering the 3rd season of his injury-plagued career, Camp needs to make a huge impact in training camp, or he will likely be cut. Before this season’s draft, he had a unique skillset, which could be found nowhere else on the team, but with the drafting of Keenan Reynolds, he is no longer a special snowflake. Camp showed his talent against Pittsburgh last season, changing what looked like a clear loss of yards into a touchdown, but suffered a herniated disk later in the game, ending his 2015 season.
He has spent the entire off-season training at ‘The Castle’, and looks to make a run at a roster spot, battling with other wide receivers behind Steve Smith, Mike Wallace, Kamar Aiken, and Breshad Perriman.
It’s sad when you see a first-round draft pick running out of chances. Safety Matt Elam is one of those players. Thrust into the secondary as a rookie, he had a very up and down season, which is to be expected. However, he has failed to produce since then, even when healthy. He is commonly referred to like the Ravens’ ‘King of Missed Tackles’, which is not a name that you want, as a defensive first round pick. He’s battling with Terrence Brooks for the last safety spot and needs to shine in training camp to retain the spot over him. Yes, it is uncommon for a franchise to part ways with a first-round pick before his rookie contract is up, but the fact that Baltimore denied his contract option speaks volumes.
Caveat: The Ravens could potentially keep Brooks as a hybrid corner-safety, and that would save both of them regarding roster spots, as Brooks played some nickel corner his rookie year, and did well.
‘The Battle Inside’
Daryl Smith has been released, which means C.J. Mosley is a little lonely at the ILB position. Zach Orr wants the spot. Rookie Kamalei Correa wants it and got minicamp reps at ILB. Arthur Brown wants it, and this is his best chance to try to stay on the team. Since his arrival in 2013, Brown has not shown us what it means to play like a Raven. Last season, his only two tackles came on special teams, with not a single grab coming on defense. If Correa or Orr are head and shoulders above Brown in training camp, then it is very unlikely that Baltimore keeps him specifically for special teams.
Brown is very quickly becoming a second-round bust, and training camp will show us either way.
‘Running For A Spot’
The running back position is one of the most tightly contested positions on the Ravens’ roster, so it’s hard to name one of the six backs that needs to be better than the rest. But for the sake of the article, we’re going to go with Lorenzo Taliaferro (the other options were Terrance West and Trent Richardson, as I feel like Buck Allen, and Kenneth Dixon are safe). ‘LT’ has been placed on IR two years in a row, which automatically places him on the hot seat as far as making the roster. He is the biggest back on the Ravens roster but has been playing behind West during the off-season. He has 339 yards in his two seasons with the Ravens. In comparison, Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen already had over 500 as a rookie.
LT is the big, bruising, battering ram that the Ravens are missing, but he needs to have a great summer and stay healthy to be a Raven.
‘Guarding His Spot’
The Baltimore offensive line has gone through a bit of a shake-up this off-season, with Kelechi Osemele departing for Oakland, Eugene Monroe getting released, and positions being shuffled around. Only a third of the offensive line is still in place, anchored by the best guard in the league, Marshal Yanda. Ronnie Stanley looks to be the clear-cut day one starter at LT, but the left guard position is still up in the air. John Urschel‘s position on the roster is in question because of this. Though he improved steadily last season, and plays better at guard than he did at center, rookie fourth-round pick Alex Lewis made a great first impression, and Urschel will have to be head-and-shoulders above him to make the roster.
The 2015 offensive line reminded a lot of folks of the 2013 offensive line, a year where Joe Flacco got sacked a whopping 48 times. Regardless of the moves this off-season, Baltimore, and its fans are hoping for a massive improvement up front.