With OTA’s in rear view and the offseason continuing to progress, the Ravens mandatory minicamp begins next week. Before we know it, training camp will be here and soon after the preseason. While minicamp is fairly similar to OTA’s in terms of being no-contact, it’s a bit more intense and substantive.
Although it’s only three days in length, this represents an important time for veterans and young players alike to make an impression on the coaching staff and continue improving their game. For the Ravens, this is especially significant given the level of competition and budding roster battles at different positions on both offense and defense.
With this in mind, here are the players with the most to prove next week and beyond.
Kenneth Dixon, RB
Dixon had the best stretch of his young career over the second half of the 2018-19 campaign but finds himself in a bit of an awkward spot heading into his fourth career season. He faces an uphill battle to earn early-down snaps with Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards ahead of him on the depth chart, and rookie Justice Hill offers more as a receiver and big-play threat. Dixon’s roster spot is probably safe but he needs to prove himself worthy of consistent playing time amongst a crowded backfield group.
Jordan Lasley & Jaleel Scott, WR
Coming off rookie seasons in which neither player took the field, both Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott are fighting for a roster spot this offseason. While Scott was placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the regular season, Lasley was simply a healthy scratch for nearly the entire season and saw zero snaps. Nevertheless, both Lasley and Scott are competing against several other young receivers and a couple veterans to earn the final WR spots on the depth chart. They’ve earned high praise from the coaching staff and Lamar Jackson in OTA’s, but the competition will only intensify going forward.
Tyus Bowser, OLB
Bowser was thought to be a roster lock before the Ravens signed Shane Ray and Pernell McPhee. Now, things are a bit murkier for the third-year linebacker. There was already a good amount of pressure on Bowser to produce with Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith gone, but the Ravens decision to bring in more pass-rushers suggest they may not be too confident in Bowser’s ability to step up. Bowser has yet to make an impact through two seasons and this could very well be his last shot to do so.
Alex Lewis, G
Former sixth-round pick Alex Lewis has struggled with injuries during his young career. Lewis has played in just 20 career games and while he’s shown flashes during some of his 18 starting appearances, he’s struggled to put together stretches of consistent play. Last season, Lewis earned a 49.3 grade from Pro Football Focus, which ranked 67th at the guard position. Lewis has the chance to retain his starting spot next season but another injury could push him onto the roster bubble. Between Bradley Bozeman, Ben Powers, and James Hurst, the Ravens have solid depth at the guard position. Lewis needs to separate himself among the pack as he heads into a contract year.
Hayden Hurst, TE
Last season was a disappointing rookie campaign for Hayden Hurst, perhaps to no fault of his own. Hurst appeared primed for a strong year but a preseason foot injury sidelined him for the beginning portion of the season. Upon returning, Hurst never truly found his footing and asserted himself as consistent receiving threat. Playing with a screw in his foot almost certainly limited his effectiveness, but Hurst needs a strong bounce-back season to validate his status as the Ravens first-round pick in 2018. He claims to have put on 20 pounds of muscle this offseason and appears to be in great physical shape. Unfortunately, however, he recently tweaked his hamstring and was held out of the final session of OTA’s, so hopefully it’s not a lingering injury that bothers him in the coming months.