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Five Ravens who are set for a position battle in training camp

Five Ravens who are set for a position battle in training camp

After, by most accounts, a successful offseason for the Ravens, they’ve added some intrigue to various positions across the roster. 

Here are five players who are in for a training camp battle when the Ravens return to camp:

Mark Ingram, running back

Ingram isn’t in danger of losing his spot on the roster by any means. And he'll almost certainly keep his role as the team’s starting running back in week one of the 2020 season, too. But that doesn’t mean his role will be the same.

While it might seem weird to see a 1,000-yard rusher who had 200-plus carries last season on this list, the nature of the running back position in the NFL can be cruel.

In just his first season as a Raven, he made an impact in the locker room and on the field as he became one of the linchpins of the Ravens’ NFL-best offense. Now, Ingram will be fighting for snaps. 

The Ravens drafted J.K. Dobbins 55th overall in last month’s draft, a sure sign they’re thinking about the future and what could come of Ingram's contract, which has two years left on his contract. And, to be clear, the Ravens didn’t draft Dobbins in the second round to sit on the bench all season. 

Dobbins, who ran out of the shotgun exclusively at Ohio State, registered 2,000 yards on the ground last season and drew high praise from general manager Eric DeCosta after his selection. In terms of a scheme fit, it was as good of a match that could be expected.

With Justice Hill and Gus Edwards on the roster, both young options, Ingram’s second season with the Ravens could be drastically different than his first. 

Miles Boykin, wide receiver

There’s good and bad news for Boykin. 

The good news is that he’s still perhaps the leading contender to see playing time on the outside at wide receiver, as the Ravens didn’t address that specific position with a high draft pick. 

The bad news is they added three skill position players to the mix. 

Rookie wide receivers Devin Duvernay and James Proche will compete for snaps, and though they’ll likely line up in the slot, they’ll join Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown on a roster suddenly starved for targets. 

Simply, there’s only so many targets that can go around and it’s up to Boykin, who had a stellar training camp but didn’t see the field much in the regular season. 

If Boykin has a strong training camp once again and can follow that up with a good start to the season, he could become the Ravens’ third receiving option in a suddenly crowded skill position group.

Daylon Mack, defensive lineman

The Ravens overhauled their defensive line more than any other position group on the roster this offseason. With Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Derek Wolfe now projected as starters and Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington in the fold as recent draft choices, the options for depth dwindle quickly. 

JIhad Ward figures to be next in line to earn snaps, meaning the competition for who makes the roster on the defensive line could come down to whether or not the Ravens keep seven defensive linemen. If they do, Mack could be the guy. 

Baltimore doesn’t have a true run-stuffing nose-tackle on the roster after Williams, and Mack fills that role. A 2018 fifth-round pick, Mack spent all but one game last season either on injured reserve or the inactive list. 

He’ll have to impress in camp, or else he could find himself in danger of missing out on the final roster. 

L.J. Fort, inside linebacker

No player on the Ravens’ roster saw his outlook change more suddenly than Fort. 

A week before the NFL Draft, Fort was projected as a starting inside linebacker. Then the Ravens drafted Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison in the first three rounds of the draft. 

With Queen seemingly a lock for starting reps, Fort will be forced to compete with Harrison, as well as Jake Ryan, Otaro Alaka and Chris Board to see the field. If defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale wants to put Fort on the field as the weak-side linebacker, he could pair him with one of the rookies to add some veteran stability there. 

Still, Fort’s outlook for a significant role in 2020 took a hit with Queen and Harrison’s selections.

Ben Powers, guard

Ben Powers, a 2018 fourth-round pick, figured to have the inside track for the starting right guard position. Then the position got a whole lot more crowded.

In the aftermath of Matt Skura’s injury and Marshal Yanda’s retirement, there’s a whole lot to be decided at center and right guard entering training camp. So the Ravens added a handful of players that can help at either position. 

Patrick Mekari, who played well in his five starts at center last season after Skura’s knee injury, will have more competition for the spot in training camp. The team drafted Tyre Phillips and Ben Bredeson and signed D.J. Fluker to add to the competition on the interior offensive line. Phillips is tranisitioning from tackle to guard, but has experience on the outside as well.

If Skura isn’t ready in time, Mekari is likely the front-runner to start at center with Fluker at right guard. With Bredeson in the mix as well, there's potentially five players who could start at right guard for the Ravens next season.

There’s a logjam on the interior of the offensive line, and Powers could find himself on the outside looking in.

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