Ravens positions to watch today

August 10, 1996|By Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht

Left guard: Top draft pick Jonathan Ogden opened at his new position to mixed reviews last week against Philadelphia. While his strong pass protection reflected his All-America days as left tackle at UCLA, his run blocking left something to be desired. Is he physical enough to play inside?

Offensive line: Ogden was far from alone in his suspect run blocking. No Ravens runners had room to operate out of the backfield. As much as the starters struggled up front -- typical in preseason openers -- the second unit was worse in the second half.

Tight end: With each passing day, starter Brian Kinchen is

looking tougher to beat out. That means backup Harold Bishop must step up with an encouraging performance in the second half.

Running back: Backup Earnest Hunter, a second-year player whose speed is unmatched among the top two RB groups, needs more room to run. He carried five times in the second half last week, but the offensive line provided few holes.

Outside linebacker: Mike Caldwell had a couple of shining moments against Philadelphia, but the Ravens are looking for more consistency out of this first-year starter. Veteran Mike Croel missed last week's opener with a strained calf muscle, which has slowed down his otherwise fine camp.

Right cornerback: Issac Booth took some abuse at the hands of the Eagles last week, when he was a step out of position on several plays. He needs to make up that step today.

Defensive end: Veteran left end Rob Burnett, who has been battling some nagging injuries, did not record a tackle last week. Backup right end Rick Lyle looked good in the second half. He'll be counted on to bring depth to that spot.

Defensive tackle: The fact that the Ravens are looking to sign veteran James Jones says something about their comfort level with this position. Strong showings by backups Larry Webster ++ and Mike Frederick -- finally recovered from a hamstring injury -- would ease some concerns. A big game from starter Tim Goad on the left side also would help.

Pub Date: 8/10/96

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