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Ravens News 5/23: OTAs storylines and more

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

7 Things to Watch at Ravens Organized Team Activities - Ryan Mink

Attendance, especially from key veterans

The first thing reporters will do when they arrive on the practice fields will be to take attendance. OTAs are voluntary, but the Ravens have always had a strong showing. That doesn’t mean everybody is there, however. Veterans who have already proven themselves in the league and are accustomed to getting ready on their own sometimes sit out. They may not want to risk injury, or they have their own other reasons. Would the Ravens prefer that every player be there? Of course. But sometimes it’s a good thing to allow younger players more practice reps.

Lamar Jackson’s throwing

Perhaps the most important offseason storyline is the continued growth of quarterback Lamar Jackson. The offense is built around his skillset, and in order for it to thrive, it will need him to take the next step in his development. While there’s little doubt that the Ravens will be able to run the ball successfully this year with Jackson, Mark Ingram and Co., as well as Greg Roman’s creative schemes, Baltimore wants to see Jackson become more accurate as a passer. Jackson talked about his desire to improve his mechanics this year, and there will be a lot of attention put on that throughout the summer.

Most vulnerable division winners: Ravens, Texans, Rams at risk - Gil Brandt

1) Baltimore Ravens (AFC North)

The most pressing questions heading into 2018 -- Will John Harbaugh stick around as head coach? Will Lamar Jackson supplant Joe Flacco? -- were answered affirmatively. The quarterback drama might be settled, but there is even more uncertainty this offseason. Can Jackson take the next step as a passer under new offensive coordinator Greg Roman? On defense, Baltimore signed Earl Thomas to replace Eric Weddle. But the team also suffered significant losses in the front seven and pass-rushing corps, with Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith and C.J. Mosley all heading for greener pastures -- and the Ravens are relying on younger players and free-agent stopgaps to fill the void.

Most likely to replace them: Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens’ competition in the AFC North will be stout. The Browns are ascending, and Pittsburgh has been a perennial contender for almost all of the Ben Roethlisberger-Mike Tomlin era. The Steelers are facing something of a transition year, with running back Le’Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown both gone, but it would be silly to write them off at this point. To me, the race for “challenger” is a virtual toss-up between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and to break the tie, I’ll look to the team with more proven experience, including at quarterback.

Michael Floyd Gives Ravens More Depth At Wide Receiver - Jeff Seidel

The signing of veteran wide receiver Michael Floyd to a one-year deal gives the Ravens more depth at that position. They need that right now because the team has some”what-ifs” over at wide receiver.

Floyd has shown he can be an effective NFL wide receiver. He has 266 catches for 3,959 and 25 touchdowns during his career.

Floyd can catch the ball, will be a good receiver for Jackson to throw to in tough situations and has speed. The Ravens now have put together a cadre of speedy receivers that can be used in a variety of ways. Baltimore now can come out with any number of different looks, formations and packages.

NFL bans certain old-school training-camp drills - Mike Florio

The NFL has eliminated various types of high-contact drills from training-camp practices, including the Oklahoma drill and bull in the ring.

The reason for doing it is simple. As the NFL tries to lead the way in making the sport safer at every level (so that people will choose to play it at every level), the NFL needs to get rid of certain dangerous drills, and to hope that college, high school, and youth football will do the same.