The Ravens are 10 days away from their very first full squad training camp sessions, scheduled for July 30.
Training camp is a grind. It is also the perfect storm for fights among teammates.
Young guys who are looking to make their mark, show up on film and somehow capture the attention of coaches, are all playing with their hair on fire. Meanwhile, veterans with their handsome contracts are just looking to get in their work, get ready their bodies into football shape and avoid injury.
And then there’s the sometimes-brutal heat and humidity of a Maryland summer.
Imagine 300-pound athletes wearing pads and helmets running around at top speeds in heat like that which we experienced yesterday and today. Mix in the competition, the potential threat of lost income and a downward turn in a once promising career and you can only imagine the intensity.
It’s actually quite shocking that there aren’t more fights.
Quietly the coaches probably are happy to see the skirmishes. Outwardly they protest yet understanding all the while that making the final 53 represents the survival of the fittest. Tempers are bound to flare.
It’s somewhat comical how many members of the media will wake up from their card-club like powwow sessions when a fight breaks out. “Who’s fighting? How did it start?”
As if that’s really important…
Of greater interest (to me anyway) are the training camp battles that don’t involve fisticuffs. Here are the most interesting battles to watch most closely:
Crockett Gillmore v. Maxx Williams
Gillmore could be the big surprise in 2015 and he’s my early favorite over the Ravens second-round pick and top-rated tight end prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Lorenzo Taliaferro v. Buck Allen
Allen’s style fits the offense. He has patience and that dig-your-foot-in-the-ground-and-go approach. He looked like a bigger version of Justin Forsett during OTA’s. Taliaferro has lost weight, looks fit but still runs erect and it remains to be seen with the slimmer physique if he can push the pile in short yardage. That’s a concern for the Ravens offense and another thing to focus in on.
At this point it’s difficult to say who the No. 3 WR will be in Marc Trestman’s offense. Most have slated Marlon Brown as the guy while others think it will be Kamar Aiken. My sleeper is Jeremy Butler.
Like the Ravens offensive line was the team’s weakest link in 2013, former secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo’s unit assumed that role in 2014. Insiders are rather jazzed about the collection of DB’s that Ozzie Newsome has assembled and if they remain healthy, the excitement is valid. Newcomer Kyle Arrington will be everything Corey Graham was and then some.
Those who believe that Courtney Upshaw is going to suddenly blossom into a prolific edge rusher are guzzling the Kool Aid. That won’t happen. The Ravens will bring Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil off the edge along with rookie Za’Darius Smith.
But is that enough?
Keep an eye out for Stephen Means and don’t be surprised if the Ravens add a veteran player on the edge – someone who could give them a good 10-15 snaps a game.
Did someone say Dwight Freeney? John Abraham?