By Todd Karpovich
The Baltimore Ravens open mandatory minicamp June 11-14 at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Md. There are several key areas to watch with the most of the full roster on the field.
Here are the five storylines to watch:
- The development of quarterback Lamar Jackson: The Ravens hope Jackson takes the next step in his development as a downfield passer. The team is looking for more balance on offense. Jackson led all NFL quarterbacks with 695 yards rushing last season. His numbers were less gaudy as a passer, completing 99 of 170 (58.1%) passing attempts for 1,201 yards, which ranked 37th in the league. He also threw for six touchdowns and three interceptions.
- The battle among wide receivers: The Ravens have several young players looking to earn their way onto the roster at wide receiver. The unit will led by veterans Willie Snead IV and Chris Moore. The team selected Hollywood Brown and Miles Boykin in this year's NFL Draft. A pair of second-year players Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley must take the next step in their development. Quincy Adeboyejo and several undrafted rookies also will battle an opportunity.
- Who will emerge as the leader on the defense?: With the loss of C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle and Za’Darius Smith, the Ravens need to find a new leader on the defense. Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor, who is making the shift to middle linebacker said he is ready to embrace that role. Onwuasor has emerged as one of the top playmakers on a defense. Safety Tony Jefferson also has a strong voice in the secondary.
- Continuity on the offensive line: The Ravens need to protect to ensure Jackson has enough time to make plays. The team has several key returnees and also drafted Ben Powers in the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft. He is expected to compete for the starting job at left guard. Matt Skura will compete with Bradley Bozeman for the top spot on the depth chart at center.
- Finding a pass rusher: The departure of Suggs and Smith left a serious void with the pass rush. The Ravens hope Jaylon Ferguson can make an immediate impact as a pass rusher. He finished his career at Louisiana Tech as the FBS’s all-time sacks leader with 45, eclipsing the previous mark set by Suggs. Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams, a pair of third-year players, face a critical juncture of their respective careers and must show they are ready to make an impact.