With the first break in training camp today after the open practice at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens have hit an early milestone. They have installed scheme, ran out in the heat, and have begun hitting for the first time since the previous season. After our quick look, we can see five players that are trending upwards and five that are sadly trending downwards.
Stock: Upward Trend
Kamar Aiken - WR
Aiken was rumored to be the guy that would be trending upwards this season and so far, he has lived up to those expectations. A big bodied, quick receiver at 6-foot-2 and 215-pounds with a 4.45 40-yard time, Aiken has the physical tools to become an excellent all around receiver. He has been able to add the mental side of things with sure hands, crisp routes and instinct on how to get open. Outside of established veteran Steve Smith Sr. Aiken has been the surest thing for the Baltimore Ravens receiving corps so far.
Jeremy Butler - WR
Much like Kamar Aiken, Butler has the physical tools necessary to become a playmaker, but he needed to string things together mentally and stack practices together. He has done exactly that and has shown a big ability to make splash plays for the Ravens offense. His added use in the kicking game could even give him the extra nod in the wide receiver battle necessary to make the team and see starting snaps.
Rashaan Melvin - CB
Melvin got torched in the playoffs, where his inexperience got the best of him. However, a full offseason under his belt with the Ravens and now entering camp with confidence has given Rashaan Melvin everything he needs to be successful. We have seen Melvin take over for cornerback Lardarius Webb when Webb had failed his conditioning test, which only highlights how the Ravens feel about this young defensive back's future. Melvin represents a major size upgrade over Webb as well on the outside by being 6-foot-2 and 193-pounds. The Ravens could have found their next needle in a haystack with Melvin.
Kendrick Lewis - S
Ravens' fans were not sold on Lewis when the Ravens picked him up this offseason, but he has taken on a leadership role in the secondary and has looked pretty solid to add to it. While no one will ever compare to Ed Reed, Lewis represents an upgrade over safety Darian Stewart, who departed for the Denver Broncos. Lewis has shown speed, quickness, and the football smarts to be around the ball and make plays.
Joe Flacco - QB
Most Ravens' fans would put Flacco in the top 10 of quarterbacks in this league and they would be right. However, we've seen an improved Flacco throughout camp so far. He has been on point with his passes at all three levels and has shown the arm strength that the Ravens loved about him when they drafted him in the first round. Many have criticized Flacco in the past for his hot and cold streaks, but outside of a single bad day of practice yesterday night, Flacco has looked every bit of a franchise quarterback that is ready to make the leap well over 4,000 yards and to another Super Bowl.Follow @MatthewS_balt