The Baltimore Ravens have had quite an eventful past three weeks as they visited the White House, receiver their Super Bowl rings and had three weeks of voluntary OTA's. Tomorrow the Ravens will begin a three day mandatory mini camp.
Tomorrow begins the final true week of practice before training camp begins in late July and there are plenty of storylines heading into this week's mandatory training camp.
Inside Linebacker battle
The signing of Daryl Smith has made quite an interesting battle at the inside linebacker position. Smith will be battling with second round pick Arthur Brown, and three members of last year's team in Jameel McClain, Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan. This week may provide us with a little information as to who the Ravens coaching staff may be favoring at this time, but both McClain and Brown are still recovering from injuries, so their participation will be limited.
Wide Receiver battle
Despite the inside linebacker position battle, the battle at wide receiver is the one to watch in Baltimore. Torrey Smith will be the only starting wide receiver to have done so on a consistent basis in the past and guys like Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, seventh round pick Aaron Mellette, and David Reed are among the players battling for starting spots.
Jones seems to have basically been given the number two spot in the receiving core, which will be a new situation for him as he has never been a true starting receiver in his career. Jacoby showed in the playoffs and over the course of the season that he can be a big play threat, but can he translate that into being an every down wide receiver for the Ravens? Only time will tell, but he will certainly have to improve on his route running and shore up his hands.
Mellette, Doss and Reed are among the favorites vying for the number three spot, but they are all coming in on the same wave length in that no one seems to be the overwhelming favorite to snag the spot. Along with those three, a guy like Tommy Streeter can be considered a dark horse candidate to snag the spot as well.
Do not be surprised if TE Dennis Pitta emerges as the slot option for the Ravens over Mellette, Doss, Reed or Streeter, which would mean substantially more playing time for TE Ed Dickson.
The All Pro fullback has been an ideal citizen despite the lingering questions on his contract with the Ravens. Baltimore is expected to offer him a restructured deal to reduce his salary cap number, and it had been thought after the 2012 season that Leach could be a possible salary cap casualty. Leach has not let any of this affect his team first mentality because he showed up for the voluntary OTA's the Ravens have held over the past three weeks.
Who will snap the ball to Joe Flacco?
When Matt Birk announced his retirement this offseason, Baltimore knew it had a big hole to fill at the center position. Their initial answer was 2011 draft pick Gino Gradkowski, and he may still be the answer, but Baltimore and GM Ozzie Newsome loves to fuel competition. Newsome orchestrated a trade to bring A.Q. Shipley to the Ravens from the Indianapolis Colts and both he and Gradkowski will be competing for the starting center position.
These are just some of the storylines heading into this week's mandatory training camp, and one thing is for certain, we will all know a little more and have more questions after this week has concluded.
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