Training camp is quickly approaching, which means it's time to preview the most exciting part of the summer. Over the next month, Around The NFL's Conor Orr will break down all 32 teams and give us something to look for in late July.
Camp report date: Rookies: July 22; Veterans: July 27
Camp location: Under Armour Performance Center, Owings Mills, Maryland
Offseason in a nutshell: The next great Ravens defense is on its way -- at least that is what we're led to believe. For the moment, though, fans of coordinator Dean Pees and his extensive blitz library need to hold their breath this offseason and early into training camp hoping that no one else gets injured. The Ravens have two of the best pass rushers of the 2000s -- Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil -- still on the roster. Both are unfortunately coming off serious injuries and surgeries. Suggs has not spoken since tearing his Achilles in 2015, and outside of a few tidbits left behind by John Harbaugh, we don't exactly know how Suggs will be used, when he'll return and how long he plans on playing.
Player to watch in camp: Za'Darius Smith and Kamalei Correa. These are Baltimore's younger outside linebackers (Correa is a rookie second-round pick). While camp is not normally a concrete indication of playing time, we will see just how many reps Smith and Correa are getting, which should give us an indication of just how multiple Baltimore's defense will be this season. Realistically, it's hard to imagine the unit thriving if Suggs and Dumervil are trapped on the field for long periods of time. Both are incredibly well-conditioned and effective for their age, but it is going to take a village. One potential solution? The Ravens tinkered with Correa at inside linebacker next to star C.J. Mosley, which would be an excellent trial by fire and open up multiple pressure possibilities.
THREE BURNING QUESTIONS:
The Ravens desperately needed to address their offensive line during the draft, and did so with the Notre Dame left tackle. Then, the team parted ways with Eugene Monroe which means that, for better or worse, Stanley will be the Day 1 option. Of late, we have seen a lot of first- and second-round offensive linemen struggle to acclimate right away and that typically starts in training camp. With contact limited, there are precious few windows into Stanley battling at full speed against professional talent. Will Harbaugh plan on extended reps into the second quarter during preseason games? Will he try to integrate more one-on-one drills early?
Like so many of his star players, including fellow wide receiver Steve Smith, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh doesn't know exactly when Breshad Perriman will hit the field. The 2015 first-round pick narrowly avoided reconstructive knee surgery this offseason, but will still have a steep hill to climb this offseason as he works his body back into playing shape. The Ravens are thankfully deep at tight end, which could negate the fact that Smith and Perriman could just be getting up to speed right before the Ravens start playing meaningful football. Seeing Odell Beckham's rookie training camp firsthand, it's easy to get lost in the minutiae of day-to-day injury updates and forget that there is a smart, talented player waiting to cut loose. The Ravens are hoping for a similar jolt once they can get Perriman back on the field.
It's easy to root for Pitta, who is working his way back from a hip injury that could have forced him into retirement. The sentiment from beat writers at OTAs and minicamp was that Pitta produced well above expectations. Harbaugh went as far as saying that he looked like the player who once caught 61 balls in a season.
Way-too-early season prediction:Health provides a wild variance here, but at the moment, this is a team lucky to win eight games in 2016. Fountain-of-youth seasons from Suggs, Smith and Dumervil could change our minds.