Five things to watch at Ravens minicamp, including Lamar Jackson, Rashod Bateman and offensive line

Last spring, the only question about the Ravens’ offensive line was who would start at left guard after Ben Powers departed for the Denver Broncos in free agency. Now, they have three openings to fill up front, including both guard spots as well as right tackle.

How close is Baltimore and coach John Harbaugh to deciding who those starters will be?

“The nice thing is nobody’s going out there that you say, ‘I don’t think he’s going to be able to do it,’” he said. “So far, every single guy looks like he could be the starter. Now, we get into pads, we get into preseason games, let the guys compete against one another and see who wins the jobs. But, all of them are still in contention at this point, which is very good.”

This week will mark another opportunity for players to separate themselves as the Ravens move from voluntary organized team activities to mandatory minicamp.

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What is Lamar Jackson’s progress in Year 2 of Todd Monken’s offense?

Last offseason, Lamar Jackson had to learn a new offense under coordinator Todd Monken. Things started slowly, but in the end the quarterback finished with career highs in passing yards (3,678) and completion percentage (.672), led Baltimore to the precipice of the Super Bowl and took home his second NFL Most Valuable Player Award.

What will he do for an encore?

Wide receiver Zay Flowers should only get better in his second year after leading the team in catches and yards last season. Tight end Mark Andrews, who missed the final six games of the regular season and a divisional round playoff game because of an ankle injury, looks healthy and back to being Jackson’s security blanket. Receiver Rashod Bateman, who hasn’t been on the field, is still looking to break out but has the talent to be a threat if he and Jackson can get on the same page. And four-time Pro Bowl running back and two-time NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry is the best back Jackson has ever played with in what will be the quarterback’s seventh season in Baltimore.

In other words, there’s plenty of talent around Jackson, and that’s without mentioning the emergence of tight end Isaiah Likely, veteran receiver Nelson Agholor and, potentially, speedy rookie receiver Devontez Walker.

Jackson’s attendance during voluntary organized team activities over the past three weeks was relatively light, with appearances at four of the seven practices open to the media, but he did get in at least some work with Flowers and Agholor in South Florida, where all three live in the offseason. He’s also more confident going into Year 2 of the system.

“I’m a lot more comfortable with everything; how [Monken is] calling the plays and what he’s expecting us to and stuff like that,” Jackson said. “I’m just looking forward to doing what we have to do to put us in great situations this year.

“We’re doing new things out here with the offense; [it’s] more verbal, more verbiage for me, if anything, but it’s looking good so far.”

Having the full roster on hand for three straight days will provide the best picture yet of what that looks like.

Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Roger Rosengarten during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

Rookie second-round draft pick Roger Rosengarten is competing to start at right tackle. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

Offensive line battles

As pleased as Harbaugh seemingly is with the competition among the offensive line, none of the starting jobs are going to be determined this week.

Last year, rookie Sala Aumavae-Laulu got first-team reps at left guard and drew praise from Harbaugh. Once preseason began, though, he struggled and didn’t play at all during the season.

This year, there has apparently been little separation among the group en masse as the Ravens look to replace departed guards John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler as well as right tackle Morgan Moses, who was traded in the offseason.

There are plenty of options, at least, with Ben Cleveland, Josh Jones, Andrew Vorhees and Aumavae-Laulu the leading candidates for the two guard spots and Daniel Faalele and second-round pick Roger Rosengarten vying for the starting right tackle gig. Patrick Mekari is an option, too, but Baltimore would like to keep him as the dependable plug-and-play option anywhere along the line he is needed.

No matter what happens, this will be the biggest area of intrigue over the summer.

Baltimore Ravens head football coach John Harbaugh at the end of organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)
As pleased as John Harbaugh seemingly is with the competition among the offensive line, none of the starting jobs are going to be determined this week. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

A deep secondary, but with some questions

DeCosta is fond of saying the Ravens can never have too many cornerbacks, and that was evident by their decision to take two of them in this year’s draft, first-round pick Nate Wiggins and fourth-round selection T.J. Tampa.

With their additions, among others, Baltimore has a dozen cornerbacks on its roster. Not all of them will still be there by the end of training camp, but there has been a lot of competition among the group.

Damarion “Pepe” Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis each had an interception in practice Thursday and have looked solid throughout the voluntary sessions. Most importantly, they’ve been healthy after being hampered by injuries since both were drafted two years ago. Wiggins has showed off his speed. Brandon Stephens has been his reliable self.

Yet there is some uncertainty around Marlon Humphrey, who was at OTAs early on and working on the side but hasn’t been on the field since.

Harbaugh said last week that he expected the soon-to-be 28-year-old veteran to be at mandatory minicamp, but isn’t sure if he’ll be at full speed. At this point, it will be worth watching to see whether Wiggins can be a starter opposite Stephens on the outside with Humphrey moving inside.

The other question facing the Ravens’ secondary: Who will be the third safety?

With Geno Stone having signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, that job is up for grabs between undersized Ar’Darius Washington, rookie seventh-round pick Sanoussi Kane and former Maryland and River Hill standout Beau Brade, who could be back on the field this week after being sidelined with an ankle injury. There’s also a good chance the Ravens bring in a veteran over the summer, though this week’s minicamp will again be worth watching.

Can the pass rush be as good as last year?

With outside linebacker Jadevon Clowney — who had 9 1/2 sacks last season — now on the Carolina Panthers, there’s at least some question whether Baltimore can come close to replicating its league-leading 60 sacks from last season.

There is good news, though. Veteran outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who had a career-high nine sacks last season, is back and will be on the field for the first time during minicamp after skipping all of the Ravens’ offseason program. Justin Madubuike, who led all NFL interior linemen with 13 sacks last year, signed a four-year, $98 million extension this offseason. And then there’s fourth-year outside linebacker Odafe Oweh, who flashed at times last season but was inconsistent.

So there’s plenty of reason for optimism.

The Ravens also hope outside linebackers David Ojabo and third-round rookie Adisa Isaac can help bolster the group. Both have been dealing with injuries, with Ojabo working his way back from ACL surgery last season and Isaac from a hamstring “tweak” during rookie minicamp, but they could be back on the field this week.

Having the full roster on hand for three straight days will provide the best picture of what the Ravens' offense looks like under Lamar Jackson. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)
Having the full roster on hand for three straight days will provide the best picture of what the Ravens’ offense looks like under Lamar Jackson. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

June 10, 2024 at 5:00 a.m.

Last spring, the only question about the Ravens’ offensive line was who would start at left guard after Ben Powers departed for the Denver Broncos in free agency. Now, they have three openings to fill up front, including both guard spots as well as right tackle.

How close is Baltimore and coach John Harbaugh to deciding who those starters will be?

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“The nice thing is nobody’s going out there that you say, ‘I don’t think he’s going to be able to do it,’” he said. “So far, every single guy looks like he could be the starter. Now, we get into pads, we get into preseason games, let the guys compete against one another and see who wins the jobs. But, all of them are still in contention at this point, which is very good.”

This week will mark another opportunity for players to separate themselves as the Ravens move from voluntary organized team activities to mandatory minicamp.

Players are allowed to wear helmets and compete in “live” situations during the practices, which will take place Tuesday through Thursday in Owings Mills before players break for training camp in late July. But they still won’t be in pads until the start of training camp, so the sessions will only be so physical.

Here are the biggest questions facing the Ravens as they ramp up for one final week of practices in which the entire roster, save for injured players, will be on hand.

What is Lamar Jackson’s progress in Year 2 of Todd Monken’s offense?

Last offseason, Lamar Jackson had to learn a new offense under coordinator Todd Monken. Things started slowly, but in the end the quarterback finished with career highs in passing yards (3,678) and completion percentage (.672), led Baltimore to the precipice of the Super Bowl and took home his second NFL Most Valuable Player Award.

What will he do for an encore?

Wide receiver Zay Flowers should only get better in his second year after leading the team in catches and yards last season. Tight end Mark Andrews, who missed the final six games of the regular season and a divisional round playoff game because of an ankle injury, looks healthy and back to being Jackson’s security blanket. Receiver Rashod Bateman, who hasn’t been on the field, is still looking to break out but has the talent to be a threat if he and Jackson can get on the same page. And four-time Pro Bowl running back and two-time NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry is the best back Jackson has ever played with in what will be the quarterback’s seventh season in Baltimore.

In other words, there’s plenty of talent around Jackson, and that’s without mentioning the emergence of tight end Isaiah Likely, veteran receiver Nelson Agholor and, potentially, speedy rookie receiver Devontez Walker.

Jackson’s attendance during voluntary organized team activities over the past three weeks was relatively light, with appearances at four of the seven practices open to the media, but he did get in at least some work with Flowers and Agholor in South Florida, where all three live in the offseason. He’s also more confident going into Year 2 of the system.

“I’m a lot more comfortable with everything; how [Monken is] calling the plays and what he’s expecting us to and stuff like that,” Jackson said. “I’m just looking forward to doing what we have to do to put us in great situations this year.

“We’re doing new things out here with the offense; [it’s] more verbal, more verbiage for me, if anything, but it’s looking good so far.”

Having the full roster on hand for three straight days will provide the best picture yet of what that looks like.

  • Baltimore Ravens safety Ar'Darius Washington ducks beneath a pad during...

    Baltimore Ravens safety Ar’Darius Washington ducks beneath a pad during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens cornerback Bump Cooper Jr. hits a padded ring...

    Baltimore Ravens cornerback Bump Cooper Jr. hits a padded ring during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson exchanges a playful push with...

    Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson exchanges a playful push with a coach during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Odafe Oweh hits the pads during...

    Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Odafe Oweh hits the pads during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens linemen including guard TyKeem Doss and tackle Julian...

    Baltimore Ravens linemen including guard TyKeem Doss and tackle Julian Pearl hit each other during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens tackle Roger Rosengarten listens to a coach during...

    Baltimore Ravens tackle Roger Rosengarten listens to a coach during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers shares information with Dayton...

    Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers shares information with Dayton Wade during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Invited children leap for a football during organized team activities...

    Invited children leap for a football during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens tackle Roger Rosengarten holds a pad as guard/tackle...

    Baltimore Ravens tackle Roger Rosengarten holds a pad as guard/tackle Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu strikes during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens quarterback Emory Jones exchanges hugs with center Tyler...

    Baltimore Ravens quarterback Emory Jones exchanges hugs with center Tyler Linderbaum during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • At center, Baltimore Ravens tackles Roger Rosengarten, Darrell Simpson and...

    At center, Baltimore Ravens tackles Roger Rosengarten, Darrell Simpson and Daniel Faalele stand together during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • An invited spectator smiles, spotting Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson...

    An invited spectator smiles, spotting Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson who passes during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson throws during organized team activities...

    Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson throws during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson passes during organized team activities...

    Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson passes during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens guard Darrian Dalcourt gets close to tackle Julian...

    Baltimore Ravens guard Darrian Dalcourt gets close to tackle Julian Pearl while striking the pads during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens' Andrew Vorhees holds the pad for TyKeem Doss...

    Baltimore Ravens’ Andrew Vorhees holds the pad for TyKeem Doss while Darrian Dalcourt works with Tyler Linderbaum during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens tackle Ronnie Stanley, left and offensive lineman Patrick...

    Baltimore Ravens tackle Ronnie Stanley, left and offensive lineman Patrick Mekari share their experiences of blocking during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson spins the football on his...

    Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson spins the football on his finger during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens tackle Darrell Simpson participates during organized team activities...

    Baltimore Ravens tackle Darrell Simpson participates during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens tackle Roger Rosengarten sets during organized team activities...

    Baltimore Ravens tackle Roger Rosengarten sets during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens guard Andrew Vorhees practices during organized team activities...

    Baltimore Ravens guard Andrew Vorhees practices during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens guard Andrew Vorhees waits his turn during organized...

    Baltimore Ravens guard Andrew Vorhees waits his turn during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens tackle Roger Rosengarten takes a break during organized...

    Baltimore Ravens tackle Roger Rosengarten takes a break during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Rookie second-round draft pick Roger Rosengarten is competing to start...

    Rookie second-round draft pick Roger Rosengarten is competing to start at right tackle. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens center Julian Pearl sets during organized team activities...

    Baltimore Ravens center Julian Pearl sets during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Malik Cunningham tosses to running back...

    Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Malik Cunningham tosses to running back Justice Hill during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • As pleased as John Harbaugh seemingly is with the competition...

    As pleased as John Harbaugh seemingly is with the competition among the offensive line, none of the starting jobs are going to be determined this week. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Qadir Ismail at the end of...

    Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Qadir Ismail at the end of organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens head football coach John Harbaugh at the end...

    Baltimore Ravens head football coach John Harbaugh at the end of organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

  • Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker returns from the field at...

    Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker returns from the field at the end of organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

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Can Jackson and Bateman develop chemistry?

Harbaugh said in March that he expects Bateman to take a “big step” this season. General manager Eric DeCosta also believes in him, having signed the 2021 first-round draft pick to a two-year extension in April that in Bateman’s view “came out of nowhere.” And Jackson has routinely spoken up about how talented he thinks Bateman is.

But whether they can get on the same page for the kind of production Baltimore hoped for when it selected the receiver 27th overall out of Minnesota remains to be seen, though there are signs Bateman could be poised for his best season yet.

For one, he says he’s healthy in the offseason for the first time in his career after dealing with injuries to his groin and then foot. For another, despite just 32 catches for 367 yards, one touchdown and a career-low 3.6 targets per game, he was open often last season. The problem was that sometimes Jackson misfired, sometimes Bateman wasn’t the first or even second option, and sometimes the receiver simply dropped the ball.

This week figures to be one of many important ones for the duo.

After Bateman attended the early part of OTAs and Jackson the final week, mandatory minicamp will be the first opportunity for the two to be on the field for an extended period during the offseason. Even their workouts haven’t aligned until now, though each is looking forward to what they think they can accomplish.

“Having a full offseason, being able to be here with the team, being able to practice [and] just being able to get that chemistry down is important for me, so I’m definitely looking forward to that,” Bateman said during the second week of OTAs. “I don’t know what’s going to happen this year; all I know is I’m going to just go to work every day.”

Said Jackson: “He’s an elusive receiver, great off the ball, great separation. We just have to get him the ball. That’s all [there is] to it, point-blank, period.”

Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Roger Rosengarten during organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)
Rookie second-round draft pick Roger Rosengarten is competing to start at right tackle. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

Offensive line battles

As pleased as Harbaugh seemingly is with the competition among the offensive line, none of the starting jobs are going to be determined this week.

Last year, rookie Sala Aumavae-Laulu got first-team reps at left guard and drew praise from Harbaugh. Once preseason began, though, he struggled and didn’t play at all during the season.

This year, there has apparently been little separation among the group en masse as the Ravens look to replace departed guards John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler as well as right tackle Morgan Moses, who was traded in the offseason.

There are plenty of options, at least, with Ben Cleveland, Josh Jones, Andrew Vorhees and Aumavae-Laulu the leading candidates for the two guard spots and Daniel Faalele and second-round pick Roger Rosengarten vying for the starting right tackle gig. Patrick Mekari is an option, too, but Baltimore would like to keep him as the dependable plug-and-play option anywhere along the line he is needed.

No matter what happens, this will be the biggest area of intrigue over the summer.

Baltimore Ravens head football coach John Harbaugh at the end of organized team activities at the Ravens training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)
As pleased as John Harbaugh seemingly is with the competition among the offensive line, none of the starting jobs are going to be determined this week. (Karl Merton Ferron/Staff)

A deep secondary, but with some questions

DeCosta is fond of saying the Ravens can never have too many cornerbacks, and that was evident by their decision to take two of them in this year’s draft, first-round pick Nate Wiggins and fourth-round selection T.J. Tampa.

With their additions, among others, Baltimore has a dozen cornerbacks on its roster. Not all of them will still be there by the end of training camp, but there has been a lot of competition among the group.

Damarion “Pepe” Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis each had an interception in practice Thursday and have looked solid throughout the voluntary sessions. Most importantly, they’ve been healthy after being hampered by injuries since both were drafted two years ago. Wiggins has showed off his speed. Brandon Stephens has been his reliable self.

Yet there is some uncertainty around Marlon Humphrey, who was at OTAs early on and working on the side but hasn’t been on the field since.

Harbaugh said last week that he expected the soon-to-be 28-year-old veteran to be at mandatory minicamp, but isn’t sure if he’ll be at full speed. At this point, it will be worth watching to see whether Wiggins can be a starter opposite Stephens on the outside with Humphrey moving inside.

The other question facing the Ravens’ secondary: Who will be the third safety?

With Geno Stone having signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, that job is up for grabs between undersized Ar’Darius Washington, rookie seventh-round pick Sanoussi Kane and former Maryland and River Hill standout Beau Brade, who could be back on the field this week after being sidelined with an ankle injury. There’s also a good chance the Ravens bring in a veteran over the summer, though this week’s minicamp will again be worth watching.

Can the pass rush be as good as last year?

With outside linebacker Jadevon Clowney — who had 9 1/2 sacks last season — now on the Carolina Panthers, there’s at least some question whether Baltimore can come close to replicating its league-leading 60 sacks from last season.

There is good news, though. Veteran outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who had a career-high nine sacks last season, is back and will be on the field for the first time during minicamp after skipping all of the Ravens’ offseason program. Justin Madubuike, who led all NFL interior linemen with 13 sacks last year, signed a four-year, $98 million extension this offseason. And then there’s fourth-year outside linebacker Odafe Oweh, who flashed at times last season but was inconsistent.

So there’s plenty of reason for optimism.

The Ravens also hope outside linebackers David Ojabo and third-round rookie Adisa Isaac can help bolster the group. Both have been dealing with injuries, with Ojabo working his way back from ACL surgery last season and Isaac from a hamstring “tweak” during rookie minicamp, but they could be back on the field this week.

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