Baltimore Ravens: Position Battles Change with Injuries


Baltimore Ravens safety Terrence Brooks (31) hopes to make an early return after tearing his ACL and MCL during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

As the Baltimore Ravens’ second week of OTAs ends, the different position battles that will become more prominent during training camp begin to take shape.

Two of the biggest questions headed into OTAs have changed significantly due to injuries. The receiving core has suffered two injuries to Michael Campanaro and Aldrick Robinson, who are out until training camp.

The secondary suffered the losses of cornerback Jimmy Smith and safety Terrence Brooks last year to season-ending injuries, but are both on track to return and maybe both this season. Due to the injuries, the Ravens added Kyle Arrington, Kendrick Lewis and most recently Cassius Vaughn to the secondary.

How have these proceedings affected the position competitions beginning to take place?

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With Campanaro and Robinson out for OTAs and minicamp, which occurs in between the end of OTAs and the beginning of training camp, the other younger wide receivers have been given the chance to make their mark on the team. DeAndre Carter and Jeremy Butler are two young receivers who can use this time to solidify their spots on the roster.

Butler has yet to show the Ravens what he can do as a second-year player returning from injury, and Carter is a rookie. Both now have a shot to receive more time on the field during OTAs and minicamp to help make their case to find a spot on the roster.

The automatic bids to the roster most likely would be Steve Smith Sr., Marlon Brown, rookie Breshad Perriman and according to some experts and insiders, Kamar Aiken is the last lock for the roster. I would argue this one, as I do not believe he has proven himself a lock, but who am I to argue with the experts?

Aiken caught 24 passes for 267 yards in 2014 after accumulating zero receptions with the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.

He caught 24 passes last season, and showed promise. In my opinion, he has to take advantage of this opportunity along with the other young receivers. Campanaro and Robinson would have been vying for the last roster spot, which is now open for the other young guys to take a jab at.

The biggest change in the position battles is the loss of field time that two injured receivers are dealt. If the other players step up in their absence, they could lose their chance to make any move toward the roster. Lack of practice time during OTAs is one thing, but the biggest impact will be seen from missing minicamp.

As the receiving corps’ competition tightens with the loss of players, the secondary does so with the possible return of players. Terrence Brooks seems to be well ahead of schedule with the possibility (no official word) of a return this year.

However, as he takes reps with the starters during OTAs, his presence causes an immediate increase in the competition at the safety position. Most notably would be Matt Elam trying to return as a consistent starter. With the addition of Lewis and now the possibility of Brooks’ return, the third-year safety does not have an easy road ahead of him to make the starting roster.

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Smith seems to be recovering well from foot surgery, which caused him to miss most of the 2014 season. His return continues to add more depth to the cornerback position, which already has Arrington, Vaughn and Lardarius Webb.

The young players in Tray Walker and Rashaan Melvin now have to compete with proven veterans for roster spots. If the Ravens carry five or even six cornerbacks in the regular season, one of the younger guys is not going to make the roster.

This aspect should make the competition even tighter and make the players show more of what they can do. But whether a receiver or in the secondary, the first cuts are long off, so everyone has a lot of time to make sure the coaches see them at their best.

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