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Are absences an issue?

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Are absences an issue?

As the Ravens went through the paces of another training camp practice albeit in air-conditioned comfort of the indoor facility on Thursday defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (hamstring) once again did not participate. Neither did rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw (arm). Neither did center Matt Birk, or offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie.

Several others in the running for roster spots also missed practice, including rookie running back Bernard Pierce (hamstring), wide receiver Tandon Doss (hamstring) and tackle Jah Reid (calf). All three of those players are potentially seeing their stock drop, as competition takes place without them in already crowded position groups.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but does it make the Ravens a better team?

To be sure, one-on-one drills in August dont count in the standings. If theres an issue with a player, its certainly shrewd to take the cautionary route now, rather than risk an injury that sidelines a player for a month or two.

Coach John Harbaugh has said that Birk, who just turned 36 and hasnt missed a start in six seasons, will be given extra days off.

McKinnies conditioning issues have been well documented, and although he is reportedly at the Under Armour Performance Center after missing the first couple of days of camp, he has not yet been on the field.

Ngata also has yet to practice, but Harbaugh said after Wednesdays practice that Ngata is pretty close. Were probably working him a little slower than hed like us to. But, hes starting to run now, and hes going to be fine very soon. I dont really have a timetable.

Upshaw, meanwhile, is in the running for a starting spot at outside linebacker -- and is listed as a starter on the Ravens official Web site depth chart -- but it's hard to win that job from the sideline. Still, defensive coordinator Dean Pees didnt sound any alarm bells when asked about that on Thursday.

What we just need to do is get him out there, especially in some preseason games, and have him hit, get hit, and actually play, Pees said.

Im not too concerned, yet, he added, until if we get down the road and hes not playing any games. Then I will be concerned.

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Reaction: Peter King picks Ravens 12th in 2019 Power Rankings

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Reaction: Peter King picks Ravens 12th in 2019 Power Rankings

With OTAs underway, Peter King has released his 2019 NFL preseason power rankings and of the biggest surprises is the Baltimore Ravens landing at No. 12 on the list. Although stud Lamar Jackson surprised people last season, given the substandard state of their defense and the burden on Jackson to shoulder the load offensively, King may have the Ravens ranked a few spots too high. 

Let's start with the defense; it's got more holes than a slice of swiss cheese. Most notably they lost linebacker Terrell Suggs, the heart and soul of their defense for the past decade. Although past his prime, Suggs is still a productive player and they will undoubtedly miss his leadership. They released defensive back Eric Weddle, who was coming off two straight Pro-Bowl appearances. Their justification was that he's 34 and by releasing him, they could allocate the money to re-signing All-Pro linebacker C.J. Mosley. Solid reasoning, if Mosley didn't sign with the New York Jets in the offseason.

Credit must be given, however, to the four-year, $55 million contract given to former Seattle Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas. Coming off a broken leg, he is easily the biggest X-factor for this defense. If he produces like the Earl Thomas of old, it'll more than makeup for the loss of the Weddle. They'll also be getting back defensive tackle Willie Reed from injury, who's young and hungry.

Although last years' defense was one of, if not the top unit in the NFL, all anyone could manage to talk about was the dynamic offense led by rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. Coach John Harbaugh threw caution to the wind and handed the reins to Jackson in Week 10, and the Ravens proceeded to win six of their next seven games behind a run-dominated offense.

It's a toss-up if they'll be able to replicate that success this season. On the one hand, the unconventional attack took the league by storm last year and one could argue the league just needed time to adapt to this new-look offense. On the other hand, the Ravens did add some electric new pieces to the offense to replace the losses of wide receivers Michael Crabtree and John Brown. 

They added Mark Ingram who is one of the best dual-threat running backs in the league when healthy. Their first-round pick, wide receiver Marquise Brown, is one of the fastest players Todd McShay has ever evaluated. Third-round pick wide receiver Miles Boykin was one of the 20 fastest players at the draft and fourth-round pick  Justice Hill registered the fastest 40 time for running backs at the combine. Adding young, electric talent will enhance Jackson's already stellar playmaking ability. 

At tight end, they're one of the deepest teams in the NFL, headed up by Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst. Keep in mind, however, that this is the NFL: it all starts with the quarterback. Jackson completed passes at a 58.2% clip last season. If the Ravens are serious about building around him, he'll have to improve as a passer. 

Taking the defensive deficiencies and questions on offense into account, and 12 is too high for the preseason power rankings; 16 is more appropriate. In his article, King writes about the Ravens saying, "They could win 11. They could win six." If I had to choose one outcome I'd take the latter. 

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: OTAs Day 1

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: OTAs Day 1

Kick off your Tuesday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including a recap of the first day of OTAs.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. Yesterday, (Monday) was the first day of the Ravens' OTAs. OTAs continue today (Tuesday) as the Ravens work on developing a new offense. Check out some of the highlights here. 

2. The Baltimore Ravens have officially announced the full 90-man roster that will be competing for an official team roster spot in OTAs this summer. 

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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