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Squint hard and you can see a Super Bowl team

2021 was an unspeakably unhealthy — and bizarre — 12 months for the Baltimore Ravens. But the Ravens, who start their twenty seventh coaching camp Wednesday, have purpose for optimism in 2021.

They open camp fairly wholesome with what, on paper, is a loaded roster. And if a couple of breaks go their means that went the opposite a 12 months in the past, maybe there can be jewellery given out once more in Charm City. But let’s not get forward of ourselves. Here are the highest 5 Ravens storylines because the heavy lifting will get underway in Owings Mills, Md.

5 storylines for Baltimore Ravens coaching camp

The Ravens completed 2021 in a completely unfamiliar place: the AFC North cellar. It was their first last-place end since 2007 and the primary with John Harbaugh as head coach.

But there’s purpose to count on a bounceback in 2022. And not simply because divisional rivals Pittsburgh and Cleveland have questions at quarterback.

Simply put, their luck can not get any worse. The Ravens completed the 2021 season with 17 gamers on the injured reserve. Currently, they’ve none. That’s a good begin. But it’s simply the beginning.

What’s subsequent within the Lamar Jackson journey?

Few tales within the NFL are shrouded in additional intrigue than the Lamar Jackson contract saga. Rarely does a quarterback of his means attain the ultimate 12 months of a rookie deal. But that’s precisely what is going to occur if Jackson and the Ravens don’t hammer out an extension within the subsequent couple of months. Jackson is owed $23 million assured in 2022, which is much under his market worth.

Jackson told USA Today earlier this month that he’d “hopefully” have a deal signed by the beginning of coaching camp, however that hasn’t materialized. Regardless, Jackson was so excited to start out the season, he reported to coaching camp early. So no holdout right here.

Two complicating components to getting a deal completed:

  • Jackson doesn’t have an agent and represents himself
  • He is coming off the worst season of his profession

Injuries stored him out of 5 video games and impacted his efficiency in most of the video games wherein he performed. Jackson had career-worst numbers in interceptions (13) and interception price (3.4%) and was twenty third amongst qualifying quarterbacks in passer ranking (87).

The Ravens have Super Bowl expectations in 2022. But to get there, they’ll want Jackson to play like a famous person. If he does, there can be no worth the Ravens received’t pay to maintain him.

Running again scenario given J.Ok. Dobbins’ well being

Social media supplied a little bit of late-offseason leisure final week when operating again J.K. Dobbins clapped back at NFL Network’s report that referred to as into query his availability for Week 1.

Who to imagine?

Dobbins can be a full 12 months faraway from ACL surgical procedure when the common season begins, so it definitely wouldn’t be unprecedented for him to be out there to play within the opener. But it’s additionally true that the Ravens are going to play it protected with the previous second-round decide.

Dobbins averaged 6.0 yards per carry as a rookie and was projected to have a monster sophomore season. After his harm, the Ravens needed to limp alongside (pun supposed) with a solid of has-beens.

So, if given a selection between having Dobbins out there in September and having him out there in January, they’ll certainly take the latter. Don’t be shocked in the event that they sit him down for August and see what they’ve in Mike Davis, who’s nonetheless on the precise facet of 30. There’s additionally uncertainty over Gus Edwards’ availability for the beginning of camp, so the Ravens may not have a actual sense of their operating again group for weeks.

A brand new-look Ravens secondary

The Ravens’ protection was unrecognizable in 2021. They ranked final in yards per play allowed (6.0) and second-to-last in yards per cross (7.6). Certainly, a toothless cross rush performed a large half.

But not as large because the personnel they have been rolling out within the defensive backfield late within the season. In a must-win Week 17 sport towards the Bengals, Joe Burrow roasted the likes of Anthony Averett, Kevon Seymour, Tavon Young, Brandon Stephens, and Chuck Clark for 525 yards and 41 factors.

Eric DeCosta acknowledged the plain: That group wasn’t practically ok. So within the following months, he signed Marcus Williams and Kyle Fuller and drafted Kyle Hamilton 14th general. That new blood and the wholesome return of Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters provides Baltimore one of the gifted secondaries within the league.

Is Rashod Bateman a succesful WR1?

That secondary would possibly feast on a comparatively underwhelming set of cross catchers throughout camp. The Ravens decided that it was of their finest pursuits to maneuver on from Hollywood Brown, buying and selling him on draft day to the Cardinals for a first-round decide that Baltimore, after shifting down two extra spots, used on heart Tyler Linderbaum.

That resolution might need improved locker room chemistry, nevertheless it additionally eliminated the Ravens’ most focused broad receiver in 2021 from the rotation. That left the Ravens with a frighteningly inexperienced group of broad receivers. No one in that place group is older than 25.

Was dumping Brown reckless? Or a signal of Baltimore’s confidence in Rashod Bateman, a first-round decide in 2021 who caught 46 passes for 515 yards and one landing in 12 video games as a rookie.

The Ravens drafted Bateman to be their WR1. It’s now time to see if he’s as much as the duty.

“That’s the role that I’ve always wanted to be in,” Bateman said throughout spring ball. “I’m excited to take that role.”

Can Ronnie Stanley, Ja’Wuan James lastly keep wholesome?

The Linderbaum decide could be the ultimate piece of what needs to be a much-improved offensive line. But that’s assuming that Ronnie Stanley and Ja’Wuan James not solely keep wholesome however get their sport again in a place it was earlier than their horrible harm luck started.

As a reminder, Stanley — the Ravens’ would-be beginning left sort out — has appeared in precisely one sport since signing a five-year, $112.8 million contract in October of 2020. He suffered a main ankle harm a few days later after the deal was consummated and has wanted a number of surgical procedures which have stored him out of motion for the final 21 months.

But Stanley has been downright reliable in comparison with James, who has appeared in simply three video games because the begin of the 2019 season. He has suffered important knee and Achilles accidents within the time since and opted out of all the 2020 marketing campaign over COVID-19 issues.

Is that unhealthy luck lastly behind them? The Ravens want it to be. Either Stanley or James is in line to start at left tackle for the Ravens in Week 1 — well being allowing.

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