2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Defending champion Ravens enter camp with new cast

By DAVID GINSBURG - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-23 11:10

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - The parade, the lavish ring ceremony and the trip to the White House are only a memory now.

The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens aren't going to relive last season at training camp this summer. The first full-squad practice Thursday will mark the beginning of a renewed quest for greatness, making the Ravens vastly similar to each of the other 31 NFL teams.

``To me, it feels like we're working to get a Super Bowl, because there are a lot of new people, a lot of new faces,'' offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie said. ``The chemistry has to grow with all the new people and everything. Different people have to play different roles this year, as far as stepping up and becoming leaders.''

This team has undergone a vast makeover in the months since Baltimore defeated San Francisco 34-31 in the Super Bowl.

The retirement of linebacker Ray Lewis, the trade of wide receiver Anquan Boldin and the loss of free agents Ed Reed, Paul Kruger, Cary Williams, Bernard Pollard and Vonta Leach means Ravens will defending their title with an altered cast of characters.

Five things to know as the Ravens open camp:

1. MAN IN THE MIDDLE: For the first time, the Ravens won't have Lewis in the middle of their defense. His retirement means someone else will have to play middle linebacker and perhaps provide leadership for the unit. Jameel McClain is the leading choice, but he's coming off a neck injury and might not be ready to go at full strength. Either way, the Ravens will probably give rookie Arthur Brown a strong look as a potential starter in their 3-4 alignment. Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan and former Jacksonville Jaguars standout Daryl Smith will be given plenty of opportunity to impress.

2. SECONDARY TO NONE: The loss of Reed, Pollard and Williams means the Ravens will enter training camp with a revamped secondary. Free agent Michael Huff should fill the void at one of the safety spots, and top draft pick Matt Elam will quickly be blended into the mix. Cornerback Lardarius Webb, who tore his ACL early last season, will probably see limited action in training camp but hopes to ultimately reclaim his starting spot. Jimmy Smith, who finally lived up to his potential in the Super Bowl, will also be considered as a potential starter along with Corey Graham. Cornerbacks Chykie Brown, Mark Anthony and Asa Jackson are also expected to receive playing time. ``I'm looking forward to seeing how that competition will play out,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ``You talk about the starting positions, and it will be interesting who wins. Who is the Top 2? Who is the Top 3? Absolutely, I get that. But, they are all going to play, and they are all going to have to play like starters.''

3. HERE'S THE CATCH: General manager Ozzie Newsome did a fine job filling plenty of the holes, but he has yet to come up with a suitable replacement for Boldin. Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are deep threats, but Baltimore needs a receiver capable of mixing it up in the middle on third-and-6. At this point, Harbaugh hopes the answer is someone already on the roster. LaQuan Williams, Tommy Streeter, Aaron Mellette, David Reed, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson all have a decent shot at making the team. None of them are as good as Boldin, however, so Newsome could end up making a belated move.

4. CENTER OF ATTENTION: The retirement of center Matt Birk left Gino Gradkowski as the heir apparent, but he saw little playing time as a rookie last year. That's why the Ravens got A.Q. Shipley in a trade with Indianapolis. Shipley started five games for the Colts last season and will compete for the starting job.

5. MONEY MAN: There's no reason to believe a new $120.1 contract will take the competitive edge off quarterback Joe Flacco, but now that he's reached elite status, the pressure is on for him to play that way. Although Ray Rice is one of the NFL's best running backs, the Ravens relied heavily on the pass last season and will almost certainly do so again in 2013. Thus, the Super Bowl MVP must be just as a good as last year, even though he won't have Boldin to depend upon and will be taking his snaps from a different center.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Jimmy StatenNov 26 09:43p

The Seattle Seahawks signed free-agent DT Jimmy Staten (Seahawks) to their practice squad Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also released OT Andrew McDonald from their practice squad.

Marcus ThigpenNov 26 09:03p

The Buffalo Bills claimed WR Marcus Thigpen off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also waived DE Bryan Johnson.

Richard GordonNov 26 09:03p

The Tennessee Titans waived TE Richard Gordon Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 26 08:33p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Dwayne AllenNov 26 07:33p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

C. PattersonNov 26 06:23p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jerick McKinnonNov 26 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Brandon LaFellNov 26 06:03p

New England Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jace AmaroNov 26 05:13p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (head) is not expected to play in Week 13, because he is going through the concussion protocol.

Reggie BushNov 26 04:53p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle, back) was limited in practice for the third straight day Wednesday, Nov. 26, and is questionable for Week 13 against the Chicago Bears.

Jordan CameronNov 26 04:43p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) remains day-to-day, but the team is looking for him to practice symptom-free this week, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Jordan ReedNov 26 04:13p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

R. Griffin IIINov 26 02:53p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III needs more seasoning, and he'll likely do it from the bench for the rest of this season, according to head coach Jay Gruden. [ More ]

Arian FosterNov 26 02:33p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) has an excellent chance to return in Week 13 against the Tennessee Titans after missing the last two games.

Mark SanchezNov 26 02:23p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Mark Sanchez has thrown six interceptions this year, but all of them haven't been game-changing turnovers. In Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans, Sanchez thrived on [ More ]

Larry FitzgeraldNov 26 01:53p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) felt some progress in his sprained left medial collateral ligament Tuesday, Nov. 25, according to head coach Bruce Arians. Fitzgerald was pretty upset [ More ]

Julius ThomasNov 26 01:23p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) was limited at practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Phil LoadholtNov 26 12:33p

Minnesota Vikings OT Phil Loadholt (pectoral) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Geno SmithNov 26 12:23p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith will return to the starting quarterback role in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins, after QB Michael Vick saw only three starts. The [ More ]

Timothy WrightNov 26 10:43a

New England Patriots TE Tim Wright has 23 catches on 26 targets this season. 'Every time we throw to him it's a touchdown - we'll try to find him [ More ]

R. Griffin IIINov 26 09:43a

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III has officially been benched in favor of QB Colt McCoy in Week 13. Head coach Jay Gruden informed the team Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Colt McCoyNov 26 09:43a

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III has officially been benched in favor of QB Colt McCoy in Week 13. Head coach Jay Gruden informed the team Wednesday, Nov. 26.

R. Griffin IIINov 25 11:43p

The Washington Redskins are planning on benching QB Robert Griffin III for the Week 13 game against the Indianapolis Colts in favor of QB Colt McCoy. However, Griffin still [ More ]

Jace AmaroNov 25 05:13p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (concussion) is in concussion protocol, according to head coach Rex Ryan, after suffering the concussion in Week 12 against the Buffalo Bills.

R. Griffin IIINov 25 04:23p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III was named the starter for Week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts Monday, Nov. 24, by head coach Jay Gruden, but he left open [ More ]

Michael BushNov 25 04:13p

The Arizona Cardinals signed free-agent RB Michael Bush (Bears) and cut RB Kerwynn Williams Tuesday, Nov. 25.

Brandon McManusNov 25 03:43p

The Denver Broncos waived PK Brandon McManus Tuesday, Nov. 25.

Connor BarthNov 25 03:43p

The Denver Broncos signed free-agent PK Connor Barth (Buccaneers) to an undisclosed deal Tuesday, Nov. 25, after waiving PK Brandon McManus, according to a source.

Reggie BushNov 25 03:13p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) said he'll be ready to play Thursday, Nov. 27, after missing Week 12 with an ankle injury.

Latavius MurrayNov 25 02:43p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) will undergo baseline testing for his concussion Tuesday, Nov. 25, according to a league source. He is feeling good, but he must go [ More ]

Brian HoyerNov 25 01:53p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer was never in danger of being benched in favor of QB Johnny Manziel in the team's Week 12 win over the Atlanta Falcons, according [ More ]

Blake BortlesNov 25 01:33p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles went 15-for-27 for just 146 yards and an interception in the team's Week 12 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and he hasn't tossed a [ More ]

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