COMMENTARY| The Baltimore Ravens' title defense starts soon. When training camp begins, the new look Ravens' roster will get to work, but who will get the bulk of the reps is a bit of a mystery. With a few major competitions in camp and several players on the roster bubble, who takes the first-team reps in training camp will be telling in predicting the final roster.
With that in mind, here's a look at what should be the Ravens' opening two-deep depth chart.
Quarterback: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
There won't be much discussion for the Ravens at quarterback this season. They return both of their top two guys from last year. Caleb Hanie could pose a minor threat to Taylor, but the Ravens value Taylor's upside and experience in the system.
Running Back: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce
Again, the Ravens return their top two from last season. The only change here is that Bernard Pierce could start getting some extra first team reps, both to spell Ray Rice and to get more work with the guys he will be playing with on Sundays.
Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk
Kyle Juszczyk is the only fullback on the roster. The only question for him is how the Ravens will take advantage of his versatility as a pass catcher and blocker.
The most watched competition in camp will most certainly be at wide receiver. Jacoby Jones took first-team reps in OTAs and should do so again in the start of camp. The Ravens will give Tandon Doss and the ascending Deonte Thompson every opportunity to catch him, with Thompson having the best chance to rise up the ranks. He will need to prove himself first after barely playing as a rookie.
Tight End: Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson
The Ravens return both of their top two tight ends from last year, and both will play a major role this season. Expect more two tight end sets. The competition will be behind Dickson and Pitta, as Billy Bajema and Matt Furstenburg fight for a roster spot. Furstenburg has more upside, but Bajema is an established veteran. Bajema will start the competition as the third tight end, but Furstenburg could unseat him with a strong showing in camp.
Offensive Tackle: Bryant McKinnie, Michael Oher, Jah Reid, Ramon Harewood
The Ravens will be giving Bryant McKinnie his starting job back on a permanent basis, provided he shows up to camp in shape. Should he falter, Michael Oher will slide back to the left side, while Jah Reid or possibly Kelechi Osemele would play the right side. Ramon Harewood is also in the mix as a physical guy with upside.
Offensive Guard: Kelechi Osemele, Marshal Yanda, Jah Reid, Ricky Wagner
Kelechi Osemele impressed as a guard in the playoffs, and Marshal Yanda is a perennial Pro Bowler. Jah Reid would replace either of them if they went down, while Ricky Wagner will be kept around for his upside. Ramon Harewood can also play guard.
Center: Gino Gradkowski, A.Q. Shipley
Center is a position where the Ravens have excellent depth, with both Gino Gradkowski and A.Q. Shipley being capable starters. Gradkowski has the inside track to the starting job, but Shipley could replace him with a strong showing in camp.
Defensive End: Chris Canty, Arthur Jones
More so than any other position, the depth chart will be more or less irrelevant along the defensive line. Chris Canty will probably start out most games, but Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee will all get plenty of first-team reps as well. All three are legit starters who should see plenty of action. McPhee is the most talented of the three, while Canty is the best pass-rusher. Jones, meanwhile, is probably the strongest.
Defensive Tackle: Haloti Ngata, Marcus Spears
Barring injury, Haloti Ngata is the Ravens' best defender and will return playing the three technique. Marcus Spears was signed to provide a rotational guy to spell Ngata, and he should play a similar role when on the field.
Nose Tackle: Brandon Williams, Terrence Cody (injured)
With Terrence Cody sidelined at the start of camp, Brandon Williams and Haloti Ngata should split first-team reps. The ultimate goal would be to keep Ngata at the three technique, where his quickness can cause problems for opposing guards, but Williams will need to earn the right to get first team reps.
Inside Linebacker: Jameel McClain, Daryl Smith, Arthur Brown, Albert McClellan
Arthur Brown will be the immediate fan-favorite at inside linebacker, but the Ravens will want him to earn the spot over two equally deserving veterans. Jameel McClain excels at taking on blockers and freeing up his fellow linebackers, while Daryl Smith is a sound tackler and coverage linebacker who does everything well. Brown has a lot of upside and will see plenty of action, but he won't just be handed a starting job. Albert McClellan is a rotational guy who won't start, but will see action at every spot in the linebacking corps.
Outside Linebacker: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Albert McClellan
The Ravens will open with Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil as their starters. Dumervil is lightning quick and has good instincts, but will give way to Courtney Upshaw in most running situations. Suggs is looking for a bounce-back season as a rusher, but he still defends the run well. Albert McClellan could also see some reps here.
Cornerback: Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown
The other major competition facing the Ravens is taking place at corner, where Corey Graham and Jimmy Smith will be battling to start on Sundays. Graham will open camp as the starter after excelling last year, but Smith will be given every opportunity to take the job away from him. Smith is high-risk, high-reward: Graham is a sure-thing. Chykie Brown rounds out the depth chart after showing glimpses of potential in 2012.
Free Safety: Michael Huff, Omar Brown
Michael Huff opens camp virtually guaranteed a starting role. With little competition, Huff can immediately get comfortable as a Raven. The primary backup is currently Omar Brown, a ballhawk who impressed in training camp last year.
Strong Safety: Matt Elam, James Ihedigbo
The Ravens drafted Matt Elam to be an immediate starter, and James Ihedigbo will be powerless to change that. Elam has already impressed in his short time with the club. Ihedigbo, meanwhile, will still get on the field in certain situations thanks to his intensity and surprising coverage skills.
Shawn Brubaker is a graduate of the Catholic University of America. He has been a Baltimore Ravens featured columnist for Bleacher Report for two years and is currently a co-host of Ravens Central Radio.
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