With the Baltimore Ravens' 2018 season kicking off in just a matter of days, there are a few players you should be keeping an eye on.
This one is pretty obvious.
The Ravens can cut Flacco after the 2018 season and clear up $10.5 million in cap space, but leading his team to the playoffs for the first time in three years could make the front office reconsider all of that.
A new core of receivers and having the healthiest training camp in years all weigh in Flacco's favor. Expect to see a fired up Flacco in 2018.
The rookie tight end is expected to miss three to four weeks after having a screw inserted in his foot, but once he makes his expected return in Week 3 vs. the Denver Broncos, a lot will be expected of him. The first-round draft pick is ushering in a new era of Ravens tight ends along with third-round pick Mark Andrews.
Hurst finished his preseason with five receptions for 41 yards and one touchdown. Flacco has always had a strong connection with his tight ends, and with Hurst standing at 6-foot-5 the two should be able to connect often.
The 28-year-old is coming off a career-low season with the Arizona Cardinals where he put up 21 receptions for 299 yards and three touchdowns. But since making his way to Baltimore, the wide receiver has been nothing short of impressive. The chemistry he has with Flacco was apparent Day 1 of training camp, and he finished his preseason with two receptions for 24 yards and one touchdown.
The 2016 and 2017 seasons were plagued with hamstring, quad, back and toe injuries. A healthy 2018 and being a reliable weapon for Flacco will equal success for Brown.
The 2017 first-round pick will take over the reigns for Jimmy Smith once again after he was handed a four-game suspension, but the responsibility shouldn't be too much to bear.
The cornerback finished 2017 with 34 combined tackles and two interceptions for 33 yards. Humphrey had one of the top five passer ratings when targeted among rookie cornerbacks in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. Keep a close eye on whether he can carry that success over into his second-year.
After a breakout 2017 season, there wasn't much running back competition for Collins during training camp. Released by the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the 2017 preseason, Collins was picked up by the Ravens and was already making plays in Week 2.
He finished 2017 with 212 rushing attempts for 973 yards and six touchdowns. While he became a fan favorite with his quick impact and Irish dance moves, expectations are high for Collins in 2018. The team hasn't had a consistent running back since Ray Rice's tenure, and at 24-years-old, Collins still has several years to improve on his inaugural season with the team.
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