Taking stock of Ravens' depth chart

August 07, 2012|By Aaron Wilson | The Baltimore Sun

Nothing of true consequence has transpired yet at Ravens training camp, not even an actual preseason game -- the best litmus tests for who's worthy of inclusion on the roster.

That doesn't mean impressions aren't being formed, though, as the Ravens are one week away from the close of camp.

With that thought in mind, here's a cheat sheet on how the roster is shaping up by position with an eye toward performance:

QUARTERBACK

Joe Flacco has had a sharp camp, decisively delivering spirals and getting the football out of his hands quickly. In negotiations with the Ravens for what figures to eventually be a blockbuster long-term deal that isn't imminent at this time, Flacco has displayed progress in accuracy, timing and aggressiveness. Most of his miscues seem to be born from practice experimentation against an opportunistic secondary.

Dual-threat backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor hasn't been challenged by Curtis Painter, who lost eight starts last season with the Indianapolis Colts when he stood in for an injured Peyton Manning. Taylor hasdazzled at times in reserve duty with his arm, and his feet, offering a different style than Flacco.

Painter is a pocket passer who has battled bouts of erratic play, and has thrown plenty of interceptions. He hasn't made a strong case so far for the Ravens to keep three quarterbacks during the regular season. The defending AFC North champions kept two quarterbacks on the roster last year, and three seems to be a luxury.

RUNNING BACK

Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice is the Ravens' $40 million man, and their investment appears to be a sound one. He's his usual dynamic, all-purpose self.

Fullback Vonta Leach provides a punishing presence as Rice's personal bodyguard, a rare throwback lead blocker in a league where they have practically become extinct.

The backup running back situation remains a quandary.

Third-round rookie Bernard Pierce is the most suited for full-time duty if something ever happened to Rice. However, a hamstring injury has prevented the new father from getting on the field much. His grade is incomplete.

Anthony Allen has power, but hasn't demonstrated much in the way of moves.

Damien Berry is a slashing back who has put on some good bulk in the weight room and has had a solid camp overall.

Besides Rice, the most impressive back on the practice field has been diminutive undrafted rookie Bobby Rainey. Stocky and generously listed at 5-8, 212 pounds, the ultra-productive former Western Kentuckystandout rushed for more than 1,600 yards as a junior and a senior.

Rainey has impressed the coaches with his ability to catch the football out of the backfield and has a scooting, downhill style. He's not as much of a long shot as he was when he arrived in Owings Mills forcamp a few weeks ago.

WIDE RECEIVER

Veteran Anquan Boldin has built better chemistry and timing with Flacco and returned a bit quicker and healthier than last season when he battled a partially torn meniscus in his knee that required arthroscopic surgery before the playoffs.

Torrey Smith is the deep threat of the offense, and the former second-round draft pick has gained polish as a route-runner. His hands have become more consistent.

Newcomer Jacoby Jones can create separation and has big-play capabilities. He still has lapses of concentration that lead to the occasional dropped pass, but not enough to cause serious alarm. He's thefavorite to be the third receiver.

LaQuan Williams has been one of the bright spots of camp, making several acrobatic catches and showing off body control and toughness.

Tandon Doss' hamstring injury, which sidelined him for a week until he returned Monday, has him in a position where he needs to make up ground. He's listed on the official depth chart as the backup to Boldin.

The Ravens kept six wide receivers on the active roster last season, including kick returner David Reed, who's still recovering from surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament and is unlikely to be ready in time for the season.

The Ravens like what they've seen from Devin Goda, a big, former Slippery Rock wide-out (6-2, 218 pounds), and speedster Deonte Thompson.

Thompson is one of the fastest players on the squad, but will need to prove that he can go over the middle and catch the ball regularly in games to claim a roster spot.

Tommy Streeter has been mastering the jump ball part of his job, but needs to develop a more extensive knowledge of the route tree and make sharper cuts out of his breaks.

TIGHT END

Starter Ed Dickson has the potential to have a breakout year. Athletic with ideal size, Dickson's only drawback was a few maddening drops last year. He seems steadier and more confident this fall.

Dennis Pitta sustained a clean break of his right hand, which has been repaired through surgery. He's slated to return in time for the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Pitta is one of Flacco's mosttrusted targets and closest friends.

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