Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Ravens building from the bottom up

It’s only natural to focus upon the stars and the newly acquired free agents and draft picks when attending a Ravens mini-camp. It’s also quite natural to pay attention to the players recovering from injuries and those who have opted to skip the voluntary camps. Despite the mini-camp label of “voluntary”, fans, the media and probably the coaches frown upon such players. Somewhere in the corner of all our minds, to some degree we label them as “me guys” who do not totally buying into the concept of team.

But today, my focus during mini-camp practices will be in part upon the guys who will shape the bottom of the team’s roster, providing depth and insurance in the event of injury. Strength at the bottom of the roster helps a team later in the season after injuries, wear and tear and the rookie wall affect performances.

Admittedly it is difficult to draw conclusions from these practices primarily because there is no hitting. Yet these organized team activities help to build continuity and cohesiveness offensively, defensively and on special teams.

There are many questions that need to be answered as the Ravens work to get ready for the regular season. Some questions may never be answered this season yet the circumstances that generate the curiosity bear watching.

In no particular order, these are some of the intriguing topics we’ll focus on today and throughout training camp…

* Edgar Jones, a former high school basketball star…can Cam Cameron shape his athleticism the way he once did with Antonio Gates in San Diego? With injuries at tight end, he’ll get his fair share of reps.

* Can UDFA FB Jason Cook make the squad as a back up to Le’Ron McClain? If he can might that free up McClain to be the featured back more regularly?

* Derrick Martin had a solid training camp prior to his labrum injury last year during the preseason game against the Vikings. Can he pick up where he left off and if so, how does that impact Frank Walker’s future in Baltimore?

* Can Cedric Peerman or Jalen Parmele provide competent depth at running back?

* The battle for the No. 3 WR slot promises to be fierce. Kelley Washington and Marcus Smith are strong, physical players who are solid special teams contributors. Demetrius Williams provides the most potential as a pass catcher but has difficult staying healthy. Will his added bulk make a difference?

* Who will fill the ample shoes of Matt Stover? Can Graham Gano or Steve Hauschka step up or will the Ravens have to bring back Stover or some undetermined veteran?

* Bart Scott is gone. Who can assume his role alongside Ray Lewis? Will it be Tavares Gooden, Jameel McClain, Prescott Burgess, rookie Jason Phillips or could Dannell Ellerbe surprise?

The answers to these questions might not be all that riveting to casual observers but those who have studied the NFL know that the best teams are built from the bottom up.

The 2009 Ravens are officially under construction.


Tony said...

good stuff Tony. I can't wait to see how the roster shakes up by the end of training camp. I really think all of the guys you mentioned have a great shot at making the team. I do however think that Cook will be relegated to the practice squad. We shall see...

Jerry B said...

All legitimate questions, which will keep fan interest high well into the start of the season. I'll not only be watching these stories develop, but will keep one eye on how well Bart Scott does in NY sans Ray Lewis by his side as well as Jim Leonard without Ed Reed behind him. The good news is that with training camp just weeks away, there is a faint aroma of "pigskin" in the air.........