As training camp quickly approaches, the Ravens have two story lines to follow at the most important position – quarterback – which is two more than they usually have had in recent years heading into a new season.
Rookie sixth-round draft pick Keith Wenning will battle it out with fourth-year player Tyrod Taylor – who is entering the final season of his contract – for the backup quarterback job.
The duel for backup quarterback may not be the most heated of training camp competitions in Baltimore, but it’s still important, as the preseason play of Wenning and Taylor could affect Baltimore’s decision to keep either two or three quarterbacks on the final roster.
In recent history, the Ravens have only carried two quarterbacks on the active roster, and if history serves right, the training camp battle for backup quarterback may end with one unemployed passer.
The other story line to follow is how Joe Flacco responds after easily the worst season of his six-year career.
Having entered the 2013 season without ever throwing more than 12 interceptions in a season, Flacco turned into a turnover machine last year, throwing more interceptions (22) than touchdowns (19).
He did throw for the most yards in his career (3,912), but at the expense of his highest attempts total (614) and lowest yards per attempt average (6.4) of his career.
Flacco’s five seasons prior to 2013 prove that last season may be the outlier, not the new trend, but that won’t be proven until he takes the field for the 2014 campaign.
Notable new addition: Keith Wenning – Once the sixth round of the NFL draft rolled around, there weren’t many enticing options at quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, but the Ravens needed a more suitable back-up for Joe Flacco. Keith Wenning was the best choice.
Wenning’s athletic ability doesn’t come close to that of Taylor’s, but Wenning’s passing ability provides a better long term solution than his competitor.
This season, the Ravens may end up carrying three QBs with Tyrod Taylor as the back-up. However, even in that scenario, Wenning will probably become the long-term solution behind Joe Flacco, so start getting used to hearing his name.
Quarterback to keep an eye on: Joe Flacco – Not only does Flacco need to rebound from a poor 2013 season, but he’ll have to do so with a completely new set of surroundings.
Flacco enters training camp with a new set of offensive coaches, headlined by offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison.
Along with the new men in charge, Flacco will see plenty of new faces around him as he takes the field to start the season. A new starting receiver (Steve Smith), two new tight ends (Owen Daniels, Crockett Gillmore) and a new starting center (Jeremy Zuttah) – whom Flacco has never taken a snap from – will add to the transition process.
In the long run, the new surroundings won’t have a negative impact on Flacco. In fact, the change in offensive system should ultimately turn out to be a positive one.
But with three division games in 14 days to start the regular season, Flacco will need to pick up the new offense and build a rapport with his new targets in just over one month.
Will he live up to the task?