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4 returning Ravens starters at risk of losing playing time in 2020

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

An entertaining offseason saw a number of new faces join the Ravens on both side of the ball. In free agency and in the draft, the Ravens shook things up a bit at various positions, which will could have an impact on the roles of some returning starters from last year.

Below are a handful of starters from 2019 who could see their playing time trend downwards this season. Be sure to share any other names that come to mind and join in the conversation below!

Mark Ingram II

In his first season with the Ravens, Mark Ingram was both productive and efficient. Ingram rushed for over 1,000 yards, averaged 5.0 yards per carry and scored a total of 15 touchdowns. So why, then, does he find himself on this list?

The answer is simple: J.K. Dobbins.

To be frank, the Ravens really did not need to draft a running back at all this year, let alone in the second round. Ingram, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill were already one of the league’s top running back trios, and the factor of Lamar Jackson’s rushing production only further minimizes the need for another rusher in the backfield.

As such, Dobbins was a luxury selection. While the hope is that he can emerge as the team’s leading running back of the future, he’s too talented to keep off the field in 2020. Dobbins will almost surely make a sizeable dent in the snaps of Gus Edwards, while also limiting the opportunities for Hill to find his way onto the field.

While Ingram is entrenched as the starting running back, don’t be surprised if Dobbins eats into his workload a decent amount, too. The Ravens could look to deliberately look to scale back Ingram’s snap count in an effort to keep him healthy and fresh for a stretch run.

Some have even gone as far to predict that Dobbins will leapfrog Ingram on the depth chart before the season is over. I don’t personally prescribe to this notion, but it seems inevitable that Ingram won’t see 228 touches like he did in 2019.

Willie Snead IV

After signing a one-year contract extension back in October, Willie Snead IV is set to return as the Ravens’ starting slot receiver in 2020. However, after playing 69% and 61% of offensive snaps in 2018 and 2019, respectively, the veteran might face more competition this upcoming season.

In the draft, the Ravens added two receivers - Devin Duvernay and James Proche - who primarily played in the slot during their collegiate careers. Both Duvernay and Proche were extremely successful in their roles, too, as each player caught more and dropped less passes than just about any other receivers in the FBS.

Snead played 142 less snaps in 2019 than he did the year prior. Concurrently, his targets, receptions and receiving yards were roughly slashed in half, too.

Outside of Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews, Snead is still the most trusted, proven and reliable pass-catcher currently on the roster. However, he’ll need a strong campaign to fend off the incoming rookies and maintain a high-usage role in Greg Roman’s offense.

Bradley Bozeman

Bradley Bozeman is an interesting case. After surprisingly winning the starting left guard job last offseason, Bozeman wound up starting all 16 games - a scenario almost nobody foresaw happening prior to the 2019 campaign.

Bozeman performed well at times, particularly when tasked with downfield run blocking in space, but there’s no denying that playing alongside the likes of Ronnie Stanley and Marshal Yanda helped mask some of his individual deficiencies.

Entering his third career season, Bozeman is almost a sure bet to begin the season as a starter once again. However, it’s unclear whether he’ll be playing left guard again or sliding over to center, an experiment the Ravens could look to if Matt Skura is not healthy enough to suit up come Week 1.

The only true solidifed pieces on the offensive line heading into the season, though, are Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. The starting trio along the interior could be filled in a number of different combinations.

While Bozeman will begin the year as a starter, the pressure is on him to become more consistent and clean up some of the mistakes we saw in 2019. The influx of depth at both guard positions this offseason means Bozeman is set to face more competition.

If he struggles, there’s a handful of players the Ravens could turn to replace him with in the starting lineup: Ben Powers, Ben Bredeson, Tyre Phillips, and/or Patrick Mekari.

Pernell McPhee

Of the players mentioned on this list, Pernell McPhee is the only one who likely won’t begin the season as a starter.

McPhee started the first seven games of the 2019 season before suffering a torn triceps injury, which ended his campaign. In his absence, Jaylon Ferguson assumed his starting spot on the edge and split snaps with Tyus Bowser, who also took on a larger role.

Although McPhee was re-signed to a one-year deal, it’s presumed that he’ll be occupying more of a depth and rotational role than he did last season.

Ferguson and Bowser evidently flashed enough in 2019 for the Ravens to feel confident in not needing to add another edge-rusher in the draft nor free agency. In his seven-game stint last year, McPhee was already only playing 27% of defensive snaps.

Look for that number to come down a bit further this upcoming season as Ferguson and Bowser take another step forward in their development.