Flacco Under Pressure
All eyes will be on quarterback Joe Flacco throughout training camp. There is speculation this could be his last season in Baltimore because of his hefty contract.
Flacco provided an encouraging sign when he showed up at the Ravens practice facility five days before veterans were due to report. Flacco is also fully healthy for the first time in three seasons. His physical fitness showed throughout the offseason workouts as he slung passes around the practice field.
The Ravens selected Lamar Jackson with the 32nd overall pick of the NFL Draft. There are some pundits that say Flacco is just keeping the seat warm until the former Heisman Trophy winner is ready to take over as the starter.
Harbaugh already said there will be opportunities for Jackson to make plays this season. Perhaps this has lit a fire under Flacco, who dismissed the notion that he is worried about his future with the team or that he is concerned about being replaced by Jackson.
“I’m worried about right now, myself getting these guys ready to win football games,” Flacco said. “Nothing is ever promised to us. That’s the reality.”
Perriman's Future Uncertain
Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman has not lived up to expectations since being taken in the first-round pick of the 2015 NFL Draft and his roster spot could be in jeopardy.
Perriman missed the entire 2015 season with a knee injury, caught 33 passes in 2016 and had just 10 receptions last year.
“It's up to him, whether he can string together, stack together some practices, because he was doing really, really well during OTAs and training camp last year and then he missed four weeks with a hamstring and I don't think he ever recovered,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said about Perriman. “But he knows this is his opportunity to make or break being a part of the Ravens."
The Ravens already declined to exercise the fifth-year 2019 option on Perriman. He was paid a $649,485 bonus on the third day of Baltimore’s training camp, but that still does not guarantee a roster spot.
TOP THREE GOALS IN CAMP:
– Boost the passing attack. The main priority for the Ravens this offseason was improving a passing attack that ranked 29th in the NFL last season. Baltimore signed three veteran receivers -- John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead -- and drafted two tight ends -- Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews -- to provide Flacco with more weapons. Flacco also entered training camp fully healthy and is primed for a bounce-back season.
-- Find some effective pass rushers. The Ravens are hoping second-year linebackers Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams take the next step in their development and become effective pass rushers to compliment the veteran Terrell Suggs. Baltimore managed 41 sacks in 2018, tied for 11th in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals.
-- Stay healthy. The Ravens were ravaged with injuries in the preseason last year, which led to a slow start to the season. Running back Kenneth Dixon suffered a knee injury just before training camp began and was lost for the year. Tight end Darren Waller, who was expected to push for playing time, was suspended. John Urschel, who was expected to start at center, retired before the first practice. Finally, Joe Flacco injured back injury in preseason workouts that sidelined him until September. Baltimore needs to keep its top playmakers on the field to snap a three-year playoff drought. That has proved to be a challenge over the past several seasons.
TOP SUMMER BATTLE
-- Right tackle. Veteran James Hurst has the inside track for the starting job. However, he will pushed by from Orlando Brown Jr., who was taken with the 83rd overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. He is the son of former Ravens offensive lineman Orlando “Zeus” Brown and has the size (6-foot-8, 345 pounds) and technique to challenge Hurst, who could also be shifted to left guard if Alex Lewis moves center.