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

David WilsonJul 31 12:01p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) 'needs a miracle' from his surgeon's evaluation to be able to continue his playing career, according to a source.

David WilsonJul 31 11:52a

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) attended team meetings Thursday, July 31, and appeared ready to go, according to RB Rashad Jennings.

Brent UrbanJul 31 11:42a

Baltimore Ravens DE Brent Urban (knee) suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during practice Wednesday, July 30, and will miss the entire 2014 season.

Lance LouisJul 31 11:32a

Indianapolis Colts OG Jack Mewhort appears to be the leading candidate for the starting left guard job. OG Lance Louis is also considered a candidate for the job.

Donald ThomasJul 31 11:22a

Indianapolis Colts OG Donald Thomas (quadriceps) is scheduled to undergo season-ending quadriceps surgery and will be placed on the Reserve/Injured list, according to head coach Chuck Pagano.

Nick BarnettJul 31 11:12a

Free-agent LB Nick Barnett (Redskins) is still an option for the Atlanta Falcons depending on what happens with the team's linebackers. The Falcons worked out Barnett in June but did not sign him.

Josh GordonJul 31 10:42a

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is not practicing Thursday, July 31, and presumably will miss practice Friday, Aug. 1, to attend his suspension appeal hearing.

Eric BerryJul 31 10:32a

Kansas City Chiefs SS Eric Berry (leg, foot) was carted off at practice Thursday, July 31, with a right leg or foot injury. SS Jerron McMillian has taken his place.

Jordan TodmanJul 31 09:52a

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart is expected to be spelled by RBs Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson and Storm Johnson so he doesn't reach the 300-carry plateau.

Morgan BurnettJul 31 09:42a

Green Bay Packers FS Morgan Burnett (ankle) and SS Tanner Miller (undisclosed) are not practicing Thursday, July 31.

Micah HydeJul 31 09:42a

Green Bay Packers FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is working with the first-team defense at strong safety beside FS Micah Hyde Thursday, July 31.

Lardarius WebbJul 31 09:23a

Baltimore Ravens CB Lardarius Webb (back), DE Brent Urban (knee), DT Timmy Jernigan (back), OG Will Rackley (concussion) and WR Jeremy Butler (undisclosed) are out of practice Thursday, July [ More ]

Terrell SuggsJul 31 09:03a

Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs, DT Haloti Ngata and LB Daryl Smith are not practicing Thursday, July 31.

Nate GarnerJul 31 08:53a

Miami Dolphins C Nate Garner is working with the first-team offense again Thursday, July 31, over C Shelley Smith.

A.J. HawkJul 31 01:53a

Green Bay Packers LB Brad Jones has been working ahead of LB A.J. Hawk as the lone linebacker in the dime defense in practice.

Matt CasselJul 31 01:53a

Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater saw reps with the first-team offense in practice Wednesday, July 30. According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, QB Matt Cassel appears to lead the [ More ]

Christian PonderJul 31 01:53a

Minnesota Vikings QB Christian Ponder's reps were cut during practice Wednesday, July 30.

Josh GordonJul 30 11:43p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is in Stage III of the NFL's substance-abuse program, and a positive test automatically triggers a one-year suspension. For Gordon, only two options exist: [ More ]

Rod StreaterJul 30 11:43p

Oakland Raiders WR Rod Streater (concussion) participated in warmups and drills Wednesday, July 30, but he sat out team sessions. Streater suffered a concussion Monday, July 28, and has [ More ]

Joique BellJul 30 10:23p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell (knee) missed organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp while recovering from a knee injury, but he looked good cutting and accelerating with ease during [ More ]

Rob SimsJul 30 10:23p

Detroit Lions OG Rob Sims (knee) missed organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp while recovering from a knee injury, but he held his own working against DT Nick Fairley [ More ]

Allen RobinsonJul 30 10:13p

Updating a previous report, Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson (and fellow rookie WR Marqise Lee) have seen plenty of opportunity at training camp with WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and [ More ]

Marqise LeeJul 30 10:13p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (and fellow rookie WR Allen Robinson) have seen more reps in training camp with WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and WR Ace Sanders (personal) sidelined. [ More ]

Carl NicksJul 30 08:03p

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially released OG Carl Nicks (toe) Wednesday, July 30, with an injury settlement.

David WilsonJul 30 06:43p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) tweeted that he is fine after leaving practice early Tuesday, July 29. Wilson said he passed all physical examinations and will find out more Monday, Aug. 3.

Jim LeonhardJul 30 05:53p

The Cleveland Browns signed SS Jim Leonhard (Bills) Wednesday, July 30. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Aldon SmithJul 30 04:43p

San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith is not participating in practice Wednesday, July 30, as he attends a hearing at the Los Angeles City Attorney's office regarding an April [ More ]

Fred JacksonJul 30 04:13p

The Buffalo Bills have signed RB Fred Jackson to a one-year contract extension. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jason GarrettJul 30 03:23p

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence (foot) will undergo surgery for a broken foot Thursday, July 31, according to head coach Jason Garrett.

LaMichael JamesJul 30 03:03p

San Francisco 49ers RB LaMichael James (elbow) will wear a brace on his dislocated elbow and should be ready for the start of the regular season, according to head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Brent UrbanJul 30 02:23p

Baltimore Ravens DE Brent Urban (leg) and DT Timmy Jernigan (back) appear to have suffered injuries during practice Wednesday, July 30. Urban was helped off the field after suffering the injury.

Tyron SmithJul 30 02:03p

Dallas Cowboys OT Tyron Smith has agreed to terms with the team on an eight-year contract extension worth $98 million, according to a source.

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