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Status report: Training camp battles

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Status report: Training camp battles

Here are updates on the Ravens' training camp battles unfolding at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills

Cornerback: Cary Williams is listed as the starter on the depth chart posted on the teams official site, but Jimmy Smith appeared to be among the teams most improved players before his back locked up last week, knocking him out of a few practices. Its too early to tell who will earn the starting spot opposite Lardarius Webb. Both are going to play a lot.

Defensive end: Arthur Jones has gained the early edge over Pernell McPhee, mainly because his injury (hip flexor) wasnt as serious as McPhees (knee), which kept him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list until recently. Jones is listed as the starter on the depth chart.

No. 3 receiver: This one is over. It was Jacoby Jones job to lose, and he didnt.

No. 2 running back: None of the three expected candidates (Anthony Allen, Bernard Pierce, Damien Berry) has made nearly as much noise as the unexpected candidate, Bobby Rainey, an undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky. But Rainey is a Ray Rice clone and the team might need a change-of-pace runner. This could be a spot where the team grabs a free agent near the end of camp.

No. 4 receiver: Tandon Doss was the presumed favorite, but he has barely been on the field (hamstring). LaQuan Williams has made more plays than rookie Tommy Streeter or anyone else. Undrafted free agent Deonte Thompson has faded a bit lately, dropping some balls. Scrap-heaper Logan Payne has impressed with his hands and knack.

Linebacker: This position wasn't on the list until rookie Courtney Upshaw missed more than a week with a bruised shoulder. He still isn't back, and Albert McClellan has turned heads into the meantime. Stay tuned.

Kicker: Rookie Justin Tucker has out-kicked veteran Billy Cundiff so far in practice, as even Cundiff himself admitted, saying Tucker has been "lights out." But if the job is still Cundiff's to lose, he has done nothing to lose it.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens rank higher than expected in preseason rankings

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Ravens rank higher than expected in preseason rankings

Kick off your Wednesday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including a high preseason ranking for the Ravens.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. The Ravens ranked higher than expected in Peter King's preseason rankings. King ranked the Ravens at No. 12, surprising for a defense that is working on development during this offseason. However, with the Ravens' signing of All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, maybe he will bring the fire the Ravens need on defense.

2. With day 2 of OTAs in the books, the focus has been on quarterback Lamar Jackson. Ravens writer, Kevin Eck noted that during the offseason, Jackson had been working out with Ravens quarterbacks coach, Joshua Harris along with receivers Jordan Lasley and Jaylen Smith, so it remains to be seen throughout the summer on whether or not he has improved namely his passing game. 

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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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 Henry 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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