It was a mostly uneventful first week of training camp for the Baltimore Ravens beyond the ongoing drama of when running back JK Dobbins will take the field this summer.
There has been a bit of fluctuation with who is and who is not participating from one practice to the next. Practices were relatively short as part of the warm-up process for training camp. There was limited one-on-one work and no non-team periods where the wide receivers and tight ends matched up one-on-one with defensive backs as reporters noted who won each rep. The offense hasn’t generated too many big plays downfield, nor has the defense recorded a notable number of takeaways. The team has yet to have a padded practice, although that will change on Monday afternoon.
The above factors and the lack of availability of practice tape for review have made labeling the winners and losers through the first week of training camp a difficult proposition. But while it’s way too early to get a good handle on who might be on the proverbial bubble for the 53-man roster, it’s not that hard to tell who had a good first week and who didn’t did.
In the first part of our weekly look at the roster during training camp, we examine whose stock is up and who’s down.
Projecting the Ravens’ 53-man roster and the big questions facing decision makers
Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB: The second-year cornerback had his hands on two potential interceptions but was unable to secure them. Still, he has been in good position more often than not. The biggest takeaway is that he looks healthy and has been a full participant in all of the practices so far. That wasn’t the case for much of his rookie season, which ended early due to a hip injury. With Damarion Williams still working his way back from an ankle injury and Trayvon Mullen sidelined with a toe/foot injury, Armour-Davis has taken the lead among the young corners in pushing for a bigger role.
Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, G: Yes, Aumavae-Laulu struggled in Saturday’s stadium training and has a lot to develop. It’s very possible that head coach John Harbaugh will give John Simpson or someone else the first-team reps in practice this week as Baltimore continues to weigh its options in the starting left guard competition. However, Aumavae-Laulu is a sixth-round rookie who got the first opportunity to make his case for the left guard job. It’s certainly unique for the Ravens to give first-team reps to a rookie Day 3 draft pick at the start of camp. This suggests that they believe Aumavae-Laulu has a lot of talent and potential. That in itself puts him on this side of the list.
Tarik Black, WR: As Black walked off the field during Thursday’s practice, held by the lower back and flanked by trainers, it was hard to imagine he would be able to improve his stock during the first week of training camp. However, Black was back on the practice field the next day and playing downfield. Black, who spent much of the last two seasons on the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets practice squads, has had a pair of catches in each practice. He still has to be considered a long shot on the roster given what the Ravens have at the position, but he’s doing his part to stay in the conversation. Baltimore could use size in its receiver room, and Black, who is 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds, provides that.
Isaiah Likely, TE: Mark Andrews typically has no peers when it comes to the number of catches in training camp. They probably had comparable production through the first week though. The second-year tight end has shown good hands and good awareness. He’s also playing with more confidence and assurance than he did in his rookie season. He’s largely been the forgotten man when it comes to discussions of Lamar Jackson’s improved group of targets. However, it seems clear that the Ravens want him more involved.
Ravens stock report: Who rose and who fell during OTAs and mandatory minicamp?
David Ojabo, OLB: It’s always difficult and premature to evaluate pass rushers before the pads come on. We will learn more about Ojabo in the coming weeks. But he looks fast and explosive, and beyond that, what’s been so remarkable is how hard the 2022 second-round pick is playing. At Saturday’s stadium practice, he chased Jackson about 15 yards downfield. He has shown that kind of effort and hustle most every day. The Ravens’ coaching staff is thrilled with the progress Ojabo has made.
Michael Pierce, NT: Pierce has been disruptive and given the Ravens’ offensive linemen passes. He has clogged running lanes, gained penetration on passing plays and deflected a few footballs. He was around the team facility a lot in the offseason and got himself in good shape. It is shown. If Pierce carries this form and energy through the regular season and stays healthy — and that’s a big one if the 30-year-old has played just 11 games over the past three seasons — it’s a game-changer for Baltimore.
Tylan Wallace, WR: There haven’t been many big plays made by receivers through the first week of camp. However, Wallace has still seen a lot of football. Most of his catches are in the middle or short areas of the field. Still, just being involved offensively is progress for the third-year receiver. Last year he was barely noticeable during training camp practices, but that hasn’t been the case this summer. Wallace already had the edge for one of the final receiver spots based on his special teams abilities. If he continues to play in practice and has a good preseason, it will boost his team up a spot.
Marcus Williams, S: For much of last week, Williams was the most influential defender on the court. He was strong in coverage and quick to get forward in run support. His highlight play was enough swipes the ball away from Andrews, but he played with speed and urgency all week. Most encouraging for the Ravens is how vocal Williams has been. He didn’t say much last season in his first year with the team, but he seems to understand that there is a management/communication void with the departure of Chuck Clark and he intends to fill it.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Hamilton, S; Justin Madubuike, DL; Tyler Ott, LS; Odafe Oweh, OLB; Kevon Seymour, CB; Travis Vokolek, TE; Ar’Darius Washington, CB.
Shemar Bridges, WR: The young wide receiver was one of the early stars in training camp last year before getting beat up and struggling to stand out in the second half of the preseason. Bridges has yet to recapture early summer 2022 form. He had a couple of drops in the first practice. Although he’s made a few plays since, he’s operating without much margin for error given what the Ravens have at receiver. The 2022 free agent out of Fort Valley State is impressive and works hard. He’s going to make something happen soon.
Ben Cleveland, G: It’s not that Cleveland has looked bad on the field. In fact, he should probably be praised for being on the pitch from the jump after he passed the fitness test last summer. It’s more that Cleveland was once considered the front-runner for the starting left guard job after Ben Powers left in free agency. Through the various minicamps and the first week of training camp, there hasn’t been much to suggest that the coaching staff sees him that way. On the surface, Cleveland appears to be behind both Simpson and rookie Aumavae-Laulu, and he will need to secure a roster spot.
JK Dobbins, RB: This isn’t even a judgment on Dobbins for not practicing the first week of training camp. It is more of a comment on the situation. Whether his hamstring is truly sore or he’s just performing a “hold-in” to protest his contract, the reality is Dobbins isn’t on the field taking reps with his teammates, who are also learning a new offense. It must be a disappointment for both sides. The Ravens need Dobbins to be at his best offensively. He needs to have a good season to get the type of contract he probably wants. There is time for the two sides to get on the same page. But as things stand, both are losers.
JK Dobbins’ absence overshadows start of Ravens training camp, spurs contract questions
Charlie Kolar, TE: This may be a bit unfair because it’s not like Kolar has dropped balls or missed drills or fallen behind in a positional battle. He just hasn’t been that noteworthy on a day-to-day basis beyond a catch here or there. Andrews, Likely and even undrafted tight end Vokolek have all been targeted more. Kolar’s roster spot is secure, and in his first training camp since sitting out last year with hernia surgery, the goal is for the tight end to be healthy by September. But there will be plenty of competition for goals this year, and Kolar will want to put himself in the mix for a notable role on offense.
Trayvon Mullen, CB: The Ravens like what they saw from Mullen during the various offseason workouts, and he appeared to be in a pretty good position to win one of the final few cornerback spots. He still can, but his failure to disclose a toe/foot injury, prompting a negotiated release and re-signing to another contract 24 hours later certainly won’t help his case. It’s unclear when Mullen will be healthy enough to return to practice, and this is a critical time for young corners trying to move up the depth chart.
Sam Mustipher, C: This may be an overreaction to the one-on-ones during Saturday’s stadium practice, but his struggle to handle second-year nose tackle Travis Jones stood out. Mustipher, a three-year starter for the Chicago Bears, struggled to anchor against the 338-pound Jones. The Ravens prefer to use Patrick Mekari at tackle, so that makes Mustipher the logical choice to back up starting center Tyler Linderbaum. But he will still need to perform well enough this summer to grab that role.
James Proche II, WR: As always, Proche gets his share of catches in training camp scrimmages. He remains a popular short or mid-range target for Jackson and the other quarterbacks. You also can’t question Proche’s work ethic or drive, which is on display every single practice. Still, he’s had drops and other missed opportunities that a player seemingly on the bubble probably can’t afford to have. The toughest decisions are weeks away, and Proche is one of the veterans who will be under scrutiny.
Laquon Treadwell, WR: There was a sequence in one of the practices last week where Treadwell was given back-to-back opportunities on behind-the-shoulder end zone throws and failed to catch both. Neither ball was thrown particularly well or could be characterized as a drop, but Treadwell will have to do something over the next four weeks to get the attention of the team’s decision makers. Given his first-round pedigree and experience, he should be ahead of the young receivers the Ravens have in camp. This isn’t to say he isn’t, but he certainly hasn’t created any separation from the other competitors for the final one or two receiver spots.
(Photo by David Ojabo: Nick Wass/Associated Press)