Five things to watch for in mini-camp

Larry French

The Ravens start mandatory mini-camp today meaning that the team can officially practice and step up the intensity. We'll take a look at some of the things to keep an eye out for.

The Ravens start mandatory mini-camp today meaning that the team can officially practice and step up the intensity. We'll take a look at some of the things to keep an eye out for.

Offense vs Defense:

We finally get a chance to see some of the basics of Gary Kubiak's scheme and the new personnel the Ravens brought in to run it. The Ravens defense is always fierce and will be a good test for the early install of the offensive system and compatibility of the players in it. While we are used to hearing about the defense picking off passes and hitting with ferocity, hopefully is the time we start hearing about the offense firing bullets and juking out players on the way to a major difference from last year.

Rookies:

The Ravens have always been masters at drafting players that offer some value to the season almost immediately. Will it be first round pick C.J. Mosley or will it be fourth round pick Brent Urban that makes a splash starting now? While the Ravens need few of their rookies to step up into a starting role immediately, rookie free safety Terrence Brooks will be an intriguing prospect as the Ravens do need him to beat out his competition and excel in his first year to help solidify a tough secondary. Rookie wide receiver Michael Campanaro has had some highlight catches and has a great veteran teacher in Steve Smith but will face some uphill battle to make the roster and to make an impact, but a good camp could make him a favorite of quarterback Joe Flacco.

Battle for the No. 3 corner:

The Ravens are set with their top two corners in Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, but will need to replace corner Corey Graham, who signed with the Buffalo Bills this offseason. The Ravens brought in every cornerback on the market yesterday apparently to help with that search for his replacement. While this isn't a total condemnation of Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown, it doesn't bode well for them either. With veterans like Aaron Ross coming to town, the battle between the four new Ravens and the two previous ones will be one that is examined closely.

Battle for right tackle:

Will it be Ricky Wagner? Will it be Jah Reid? How about Ryan Jensen? We've heard good things about Wagner and Jensen during OTAs and Reid is currently enrolled in a diversionary program to avoid jail so he can't be left out of the battle for Michael Oher's old job. After a tough 2013 season that saw quarterback Joe Flacco get sacked 48 times, the Ravens want to ensure that every spot on the line is as tough to earn as possible so hopefully Flacco gets to stand upright a little more in 2014. With the right tackle job being the only one still up for competition, the Ravens will be paying close attention to these three players and how they go about their business.

Battle for running back:

Ray Rice is likely to be suspended after being seen in the league offices yesterday to meet with league officials. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro has his own legal issues as well as the battle for the running back job with veteran Bernard Pierce and Justin Forsett. Ray Rice is likely to get the job back whenever he gets back from his suspension, but a serious showing from any of the backs on the roster could make that transition rather interesting. Taliaferro and Pierce both have a chance to unseat Rice and put his job in jeopardy and can make a heck of a case for themselves starting today.

What other things are you interested in seeing from the Ravens during mini-camps?

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