BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 24: Paul Kruger #99 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates a sack against the San Francisco 49ers at M&T Bank Stadium on November 24. 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the 49ers 16-6. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
There are some key positional battles taking place in Baltimore Ravens training camp this season. The departure of several starting players has left the door open for younger, hungry players to make their mark in the NFL.
The Ravens have their two top receiving spots locked up but the battle for numbers three, four, five and possibly even six remain open. Even with the possibility of four spots being open there will be a talented player that does not make the roster for the Baltimore Ravens. For the third spot the battle seems to be between Jacoby Jones, LaQuan Williams and Tandon Doss. Jones seemingly has a leg up with his hefty NFL veteran contract. He is also a physical specimen that has had a history of NFL production. However, Doss and Williams have shown impressive in camp and could challenge Jones for playing time if they show stronger in certain situations.
Also in the mix is 6th round pick Tommy Streeter. As everyone has heard he is raw but can be dominant at times. He and undrafted free agent Deonte Thompson will most likely battle it out for that last position assuming the Ravens keep six wide outs on the roster this season. David Reed could reenter the competition if he returns healthy but I'd say he's a long shot at this point. He does however know the Ravens system. If the team chooses to keep only five active receivers it is possible that Streeter and Thompson could both be practice squad bound but I think the Ravens will find some value in at least one of them. Probably whoever can perform on special teams better.
Then you have the offensive line battles. Reports are that Bryant McKinnie will be returning to camp Today so we will see where that leaves Michael Oher and the rest of the line. If the team decides to retain McKinnie, Oher would undoubtedly move back to the right side leaving the only real question the right guard position. A position that seems to have been filled by veteran Bobby Williams with ease so far.
However if McKinnie is out of shape or the team decides to give him the Jared Gaither treatment then things become interesting. Not only will there be a battle for right tackle as Oher would move to the left but there could end up being a battle at both guard positions as well. At right tackle you would have Jah Reid, Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele as options and at right tackle you could see Bobby Williams move over to his natural position. If that were to happen. The loser of the right tackle battle could move to the left guard position or even rookie Gino Gradkowski. Lets hope McKinnie returns and all goes well from here on out.
Then on the lighter side of things you have the corner back and running back competitions. I say lighter because the Ravens have much better problems at these positions. Too much talent and not enough roster spots. Running backs Bobby Rainey, Anthony Allen, Bernard Pierce and Damien Barry. All three will be competing for the second and third running back positions. Allen and Pierce will most likely battle for the two spot while the loser may be the recipient of the three. Unless the team decides to carry four backs Rainey and Barry would have to really standout on special teams unless some one gets hurt.
Inn the secondary It's Lardarius Webb and either Cary Williams or Jimmy Smith as the number two. Although I'm sure all three will get equal playing time in different positions. The real battle is in the next group down. Corey Graham and Danny Gorrer will battle for the nickle and dime positions and Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown for the last remaining spot, if there is one. I'm assuming there will be without Haruki Nakamura being able to sub in as an extra dime back.
Last but not least is the outside linebackers battle in which Sergio Kindle has reinserted himself as a contender. Courtney Upshaw and Paul Kruger will be pushing for the starting jobs but healthy Kindle could challenge both of them for playing time if his pass rush or run defending skills can get back to where they were in college. Albert McClellan could also make some noise. It seems the Ravens have a lot of trust in him.