The Ravens concluded minicamp on Thursday and have about six weeks until training camp commences on July 28th. Many players will surely enjoy vacationing or some down time with their families over the next month. For several key performers, this break from team activities will be a crucial period in their quest to get back on the field.
Beginning with the most vital player on the team, quarterback Joe Flacco is rehabilitating from a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee. Flacco was present at minicamp and has expressed optimism that he will be ready to roll on the first day of camp. If Flacco is cleared, that would assist in breaking in the new left side of the offensive line and expedite the development of chemistry with the new receivers.
Fiery wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. is recuperating from a torn Achilles tendon. Senior is not sure when he will be ready and appears to have the long odds of being ready before August. Smith and the Ravens have said they plan to be cautious with the 37-year-old in training camp, likely holding him out of preseason games and contact practices. If Smith can at least participate in some of the non-contact sessions, his undeniable competitiveness will rub off on his inexperienced teammates.
Fellow wideout Breshad Perriman dodged a bullet after arthroscopic surgery revealed he did not need a knee reconstruction. Doctors gave his knee a stem cell injection and expect him to be healthy at some point in training camp, but Perriman is a notoriously slow healer. Some big plays from Perriman next season would go a long way towards improving the Ravens record.
Terrell Suggs also ruptured his Achilles' tendon, but he has had more time to heal than Smith. Suggs has been working out regularly at the Castle this offseason, which is a change from his normal offseason routine. Although older now, Suggs exceeded all estimates and returned for the regular season in 2012 after an offseason Achilles tear.
Elvis Dumervil underwent an undisclosed foot surgery after the regular season. Dumervil felt the effects of increased snaps last season as his body wore down and the surgery has been categorized as preventative. He expects to be ready at some point during training camp, as soon as he gets into football shape. The earlier the better for his conditioning.
Jimmy Smith was working on the sidelines, but not participating in team drills during minicamp after having the screws removed from his right foot earlier this offseason. All signs point towards the shutdown corner being a full go at the start of camp. If Smith is able to train during the time off, specifically on his change-of-direction, renewed confidence would help him regain his best form.
Will Davis is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from a torn ACL. The corner looked great in limited action with the Ravens before going down. If Davis can fully learn the system early in camp and work with Leslie Frazier to improve his technique, he could push Shareece Wright for a starting job.
Bronson Kaufusi, the third round edge defender, pulled a muscle in his back during rookie minicamp and has not returned since. Kaufusi could stand to add some bulk, the injury may prevent that. If the back injury lingers into training camp, Kaufusi could find himself well behind Lawrence Guy and Brent Urban in the completion at the defensive end position.
Having most of these important players available at the start of training camp will be essential for the Ravens. The young players require as many reps as possible to get up to speed. More importantly, the Ravens need their leaders on the field to set the tone in practice. After the disappointing 2015 season, the veterans and their younger teammates have an obligation to forge a new path. Laying the groundwork for a resurgent 2016 season starts on July 28th.