Football is BACK - The Ravens Kicked Off Training Camp With Their First Practice This Morning

Training camp


Finally the 2016 season has arrived. The Ravens are back to work this morning at 1 Winning Drive with that abortion of a 2015 season behind them. There are still some lingering effects from that tumultuous season (namely injuries), but it’s refreshing to get a clean slate moving forward. Especially with the Ravens reporting to camp with as youthful a roster as any in recent memory. They’ve stockpiled a bevy of talent in the last couple of draft classes, and some of those guys got the opportunity to gain valuable game experience late last year. That will pay dividends this year and beyond.

Having said that, I’d describe my feelings towards this football team as cautiously optimistic. The injury bug seems to follow this team around and as young as this team is, some of its most valuable assets are on the wrong side of 30. But let’s look at the big picture. There’s not a ton of major turnover with this football team when it comes to subtractions. Ozzie did a good job of adding a few veterans here and there that can contribute, and avoided losing any major cogs. When you mix those additions in with all the guys returning from injury, suddenly you’ve got a potent recipe for success. Take a step back and you may notice this team really isn’t all that different from the one that had the eventual Super Bowl champs on the ropes just 18 months ago in Foxboro.

On the offensive side,  the QB is the same as it’s been for close to a decade, and he’s finally got an offensive coordinator for a 2nd consecutive year for the first time since 2012. Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman add some speed to the receiving corps, but the receiving corps is substantially the same. Ben Watson is a dependable addition at tight end, which is suddenly a crowded position with Dennis Pitta back. There’s plenty of talent and depth at running back. The main question mark on the offensive side remains the left tackle position. Ronnie Stanley is said to be capable of starting right away, but Ozzie Newsome signed some insurance in the form of former 1st overall pick Jake Long this week. If Stanley struggles in camp, they know they won’t be forced to put him out there Week 1, which is especially important given poor LT play is exactly what demolished Flacco’s knee ligaments last year. More on that as camp moves along.

The majority of red flags remain on the defensive side of the ball. There are question marks at all 3 levels. The line isn’t particularly experienced, with Brandon Williams being the only guy entrenched as a starter. The rest of the line is chock full of young guys who have struggled with consistency and injuries the last couple of years. The passrushers feature the best tandem in football, but both are aging and are returning from surgeries. CJ Mosley was very good his rookie year, but didn’t really progress much in year 2, and he’s now without Daryl Smith’s leadership in the middle. Lastly, while Eric Weddle is a great addition to the secondary, I can’t honestly sit here and say I feel all that confident in anyone else back there besides maaaybe Jimmy Smith when his foot isn’t nagging him. The defense will make or break this football team.

So yes, I just got myself all worked up in a tizzy. 2015 may have left me a little scarred. But I’m a big believer in John Harbaugh’s ability to get a group of guys moving in the same direction. There’s no better motivator in football. I’m not sure which 53 guys he’ll be taking into Week 1 against Buffalo, but I’m confident he’ll pick the right 53. I’ll dive deeper into the position battles and other news as camp goes on, but for now let’s just try to shake off last year and enjoy having Ravens football back. It’s a new year.