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Ravens training camp positional preview: Tight end

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens not too long ago boasted one of the most complete tight end rooms in the NFL, but for one reason after the next, they look less deep at the position than they have in a long time. It started with the devastating hip injury that ended Dennis Pitta’s career, and has continued with the suspension of Darren Waller and the ongoing recoveries of Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams.

The presumed starter is Benjamin Watson, who after signing with the team last offseason is still yet to officially suit up for them after tearing his Achilles in his first 2016 preseason appearance. Watson has had a lot of time to get over that injury, and as a result, he will be counted upon to be the starter amongst the group, at least until Gillmore and Williams may be ready to do so.

That young duo have both shown promise in the past (as they well should having been third and second round picks respectively), and it is that promise that they will very much need to deliver on in 2017 if the Ravens are going to commit to them for the long term beyond this season. Another promising tight end that the Ravens have on the roster is Nick Boyle, who has had his fair share of suspension issues as well.

Boyle is an intriguing case for playing time in 2017 due to the fact that he has shown promise as a pass catcher and blocker. With Kyle Juszsyck now in San Francisco, Boyle is a possible replacement for the H-back position that ‘Juice’ left vacant due to his similar frame as well as his penchant for catching passes close to the line of scrimmage and making things happen with the ball in his hands.

In addition to all the players mentioned, a name to keep an eye on as a potential addition would be former Brown Gary Barnidge. It’s been written about already on this site, and while Barnidge doesn’t present huge upside at this point, he could provide some reliability at an unstable position if the front office does not opt to utilize remaining cap space on another position such as offensive line.

While there are certainly questions surrounding this group, if things develop in a fortuitous manner the Ravens could once again head into the season three or four deep at the position. All of it depends upon the recovery of Gillmore and Williams as well as the development of Boyle, both of which are storylines to keep an eye on over the next month.