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Ravens' OTA camps: a primer

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Ravens' OTA camps: a primer

Tuesday marks the beginning of the Organized Team Activity (OTA) season for the Ravens. They will hold voluntary midweek camps for their veterans and rookies in each of the next three weeks, leading up to a mandatory full-squad minicamp in mid-June.

These behind-the-scenes sessions were lost during the work stoppage of 2011. The players can take them or leave them, but the coaches love them, using them to work on fundamentals and introduce changes to the playbook.

As usual, there will be plenty to monitor as the Ravens go through their paces at Owings Mills. Here are five questions to bear in mind:

Does Ray Rices absence matter?

The running back is withholding his services while his agent seeks a longterm contract extension, and in a sense, its no big deal. The Ravens arent worried if Rice is staying in shape and they know he understands the offense. But hes an emerging leader and the team would like him in camp, focused strictly on the upcoming season. In the meantime, backs such as rookie Bernard Pierce, Anthony Allen and Damien Berry will run with the starters, a huge opportunity for them.

Is Jimmy Smith ready to start?

One of the better training camp duels will be between Smith, the teams 2011 first-round draft pick, and Cary Williams, one of 2011s biggest surprises, for the starting cornerback spot opposite Lardarius Webb. Williams is coming back from hip surgery, and Smith played better and better during 2011 after overcoming an ankle injury. My money is on Smith to emerge.

How is the chemistry between quarterback Joe Flacco and new receiver Jacoby Jones?

The cap-strapped Ravens didnt shell out 7 million for Jones just to watch him run back kicks. They want him to contribute offensively as the No. 3 receiver, become a factor as a playmaking alternative to Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. Its what they tried to do with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Lee Evans, with marginal success at best. Theyre hoping the younger (27) Jones clicks better with Flacco.

Whats happening at left guard?

The one vacancy on the offensive line has generated a lot of headlines and speculation. After initially trying to fill it with a veteran (Evan Mathis), the Ravens have decided that one of their young guys can get the job done. The candidates are Jah Reid, Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski. The starting job is there for the taking. May the best man win.

Hows the transition of the defensive front-seven going?

The unit has sustained major losses since the end of last season with Jarret Johnson and Cory Redding leaving via free agency and Terrell Suggs going down with an Achilles injury. Thats three new starters out of seven, quite a bit of change. The pressure is on linebackers Paul Kruger and Courtney Upshaw, and linemen Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee. Do they rise to the occasion?

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson has his best practice yet

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson has his best practice yet

Kick off your Friday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

1. The Ravens are hopeful Earl Thomas will be a leader for their new defense which Thomas called "very complex." "This defense is very complex compared to what we were doing in Seattle,” Thomas said to Ravens media. “We were just playing Cover-3 all the time. Now, we’re making calls on the fly. That’s the biggest adjustment for me.”

Additionally, Thomas told media members after practice that he's made "fast friends" with quarterback Lamar Jackson. "He's a very funny guy, I don't know if you all know that," Thomas said.

2. Speaking of Lamar Jackson, he reportedly had his best day of practice so far this offseason according to Ravens media. Jackson's throws looked much better and he was quick in the pocket.


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 and Rotoworld for news points.

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RG3 likens KD's desire to play hurt to his own injury in 2012

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RG3 likens KD's desire to play hurt to his own injury in 2012

Like most athletes, Robert Griffin III was empathetic towards Kevin Durant when he first went down, taking to Twitter on Monday night to voice his concern. 

Today, the Ravens' veteran quarterback told ESPN's The Undefeated that he's all too familiar with Durant's decision to play and subsequent injury. RG3 likened it to his own brief playoff stint in 2013. Just four weeks removed from an injury to a knee that required reconstructive surgery in college, RG3 started – only to get hit late in the fourth and watch both his season and career come to a screeching halt. 

But that's not how RG3 views it. 

"I was looking at it like I'm out for here for my brothers. I'm out here for my team. And that was the only place I wasnted to be." 

And Griffin doesn't believe he's alone in that thought process, suggesting it was KD's mindset ahead of Game 5 as well.

"Most of us are built to fight. So whenever we get a situation where we’re a little injured or a little banged-up, our first reaction isn’t to get out of there and rest. Our first reaction is to figure out how we can keep going. That’s what makes a guy like Kevin Durant great." 

It remains to be seen whether KD's recovery will be smoother than RG3's. The former Heisman Trophy winner never came close to matching his breakout rookie season, eventually losing his starting job in Washington in 2014.

Durant will miss all of next season, meaning the former Montrose Christian star's next NBA appearance would be as a 32 year-old.