One of the biggest tasks facing the Ravens heading into training camp is determining what two players will start at inside linebacker following the departures of Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe.
Jameel McClain, who started 13 games in 2012, should be one of the frontrunners in the competition. However, McClain still has not been cleared to play following a spinal contusion that ended his 2012 season and there is no guarantee that he will be ready for the start of the season. The team also drafted former Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown in the 2nd-round of the draft back in April.
The moves made by the Ravens this offseason indicated that the team is committed to getting younger and faster on the defensive side of the ball. If this is the case, Brown could have a very good shot at earning a starting spot by Week 1 provided that he plays well during training camp and in the preseason.
The final candidate for a starting spot at ILB is Daryl Smith, a former Jaguar whom the Ravens acquired through free agency. Smith's experience could give him an edge over Brown in the competition as he has been a solid starter in the league for nine years. While Smith has never been selected to the Pro Bowl, he has been a model of consistency at the position, recording 100 tackles for three straight seasons in Jacksonville from 2009 to 2011 before missing 14 games in 2012 due to a groin injury.
The good news for the Ravens is that they have plenty talented inside linebackers who will battling for a starting spot as training camp commences. Whoever ends up earning those spots, Ravens fans should have confidence that they will play well and get the job done.