The Ravens won’t formally return to the practice field until training camp begins in late July.
However, some storylines are already taking shape and the intrigue is building.
Here’s what we know and don’t know during the summer lull.
KNOW: Quarterback Lamar Jackson’s work ethic.
Jackson has spent much of the offseason trying to improve his passing skills. He has gotten noticeably better throughout the spring, but still needs to become more consistent. Jackson has worked with his private coach Joshua Harris in Florida and might continue those sessions in the coming weeks. He also plans to meet up with several of the Ravens receivers, tight ends and even running back to continue building chemistry.
No other player will be more closely scrutinized than Jackson. His teammates already have seen significant growth.
“He’s definitely commanding the huddle with more confidence from last year, just calling the plays,” said Marshal Yanda, a seven-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman. “And, you can see he’s settling in a little bit, which you should be in your second year, and he’s definitely done that. He has a long way to go, just like all young guys do, but he’s definitely shown growth.”
DON’T KNOW: The availability of first-round pick Marquise “Hollywood” Brown.
Brown is still recovering from surgery on a Lisfranc (foot) injury and the coach John Harbaugh hopes that he might be ready for training camp after not being able to participate in the offseason workouts. However, there are no guarantees Brown will be 100 percent when the team reconvenes in July.
“My expectation is the opening of training camp,” Harbaugh said Thursday after the team’s final minicamp practice. “I don’t think you can say that for certain because we just don’t know how things are going to progress and where he’s going to be. From what I’m told, there’s been no setbacks. He hasn’t been cleared to practice yet. But we’re hopeful for training camp.”
KNOW: Patrick Onwuasor has embraced a bigger role.
The fourth-year player has embraced a bigger leadership role with the loss of C.J. Mosley. Onwuasor has also seamlessly moved from inside linebacker (WILL) to the strong side or middle inside linebacker (MIKE). Harabugh wanted Onwuasor to become one of the leaders of the defense, and so far, that plan has come to fruition.
“[Onwuasor] has more experience, and he’s playing the same way. He is a starter,” Harbaugh said. “I would be anticipating us to play with a three-man rotation in there, with Peanut taking all the reps and those other two guys playing packages with Anthony Levine. I should say a four-man rotation, because he’s a part of the sub-packages in there. So, we’ll be playing all four of those guys.”
DON’T KNOW: Fitness of Michael Pierce
The veteran defensive tackle, who was listed at 340 pounds last year, gained considerable weight this past offseason. As a result, Harbaugh pulled him out of the recent mandatory minicamp because of health concerns. It was a puzzling display by Pierce who is in the final year of his contract and looking for a big payday.
“He’s not ready to practice, just from a safety standpoint, for his own health and safety,” Harbaugh said. “We recognized that, and we pulled him off for that reason. It’s a problem, absolutely. We want guys practicing. We want them ready to practice, physically able to practice. That’s very important.”
Pierce has since taken full responsibility for showing up out of shape. “Throughout the offseason, I tend to lift more than run,” Pierce told a radio station in Alabama. “Being a nose guard, I want to be strong or whatnot. I, honestly, just mismanaged my running a little bit.”
KNOW: The secondary is deep, talented and the strength of the team
The addition of Earl Thomas added a dimension to an already talented secondary. Second-year safety DeShon Elliott, who missed all of last season with a broken arm, is emerging as another playmaker. The Ravens have solid and experienced cornerbacks — Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr and Tavon Young — that will need to come up big this season, especially if the pass rush struggles early on. This group is certainly capable of making plays.