Training camp 2012 for the Baltimore Ravens kicked off on Sunday July 23, 2012 with rookies, quarterbacks and injured veterans reporting to the teams facility in Owings Mills, Maryland.
2012 will look a bit different for the Ravens after some key departures in free agency along with an unforseen injury to reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs. Several rookies in 2012 will be counted on to fill in or at least challenge for starting time.
Here is a preview of the 2012 rookie class:
LB Courtney Upshaw (2nd round)- In his senior season, Upshaw started all 13 games for the Crimson Tide. He accounted for 51 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. For his on-field performance, Upshaw was named first team All-America. He was also recognized as second team All-America by the Associated Press.In the 2012 BCS National Championship Game Upshaw was named the defensive MVP with his seven tackle performance, which included one sack and one tackle for a loss. Upshaw has a history of playing Suggs position in college where he served as a rush linebacker. The rookie could make the move to the NFL smoothly.
G Kelechi Osemele (2nd round)- One of the most important question this offseason has been how do the Ravens deal with the loss of Pro-Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs to the Saints in free agency. The battle will likely come down to three prospects. Second-year lineman Jah Reid and rookies Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski. Osemele, who stands 6 feet, 5 1/3 inches and weighs 333 pounds from Iowa State, joins a team that needs depth along the offensive line. The Ravens start 11-year veteran Bryant McKinnie at one tackle and Michael Oher at the other. Former Iowa tackle Marshal Yanda made the Pro Bowl last year as a guard. Osemele started 44 consecutive games for Iowa State and earned first-team all-Big 12 honors from both the coaches and media after last season.
RB Bernard Pierce (3rd round)- The 6’1?, 218 lb Pierce who played at Temple University had a breakout 2011, rushing for 1481 yards and 27 touchdowns for the Owls this season. Pierce has the lateral agility and quickness to move against the grain. Has excellent vision and has the foot quickness to excel as a zone read back. Pierce has no problem with contact and consistently moved piles forward after first contact. The fight for the number two running back should prove to be interesting throughout camp. The retirement of Ricky Williams has left a battle between second-year backs Anthony Allen and Damien Berry and rookie Bernard Pierce. Each players brings a different style to the mix Allen is a power runner, Berry is more of a speed back and Pierce is a slasher.
G/C Gino Gradkowski (4th round)- The 6’3?, 300 lb Gradkowski is just the second pick out of Delaware the Ravens have selected. The guard/center started seven games at left guard and four games at center as a senior for the Blue Hens in 2011. He will battle guard Jah Reid and second-round pick Kelechi Osemele at left guard and could possibly become the Ravens starting center in the future.
S Christian Thompson (4th round)- Thompson the 6’0?, 211 lb safety out of South Carolina State had 86 tackles in 33 games at SCS. He started all 11 games at free safety as a senior and recorded two interceptions. Thompson further increased his draft stock at the NFL Combine, where he ran the fastest time in the 40-yard dash (4.50) among safeties and graded third in the 60-yard shuffle. Considered to be a big and physical player, will fit in well with the Ravens secondary as a big hitter.
CB Asa Jackson (5th round)- Jackson 5’10?, 190lb cornerback from Cal Poly impressed scouts at the combine by running a 4.4-second 40-yard dash is a Four-Time All-Great West Conference pick had 54 tackles, two interceptions, seven breakup and nine deflections last year for Cal Poly. Will be pivotal as a return man for the Ravens he averaged 25.1 yards on kickoff returns and 14.7 yards on punt returns.
WR Tommy Streeter (6th round)- Streeter is a 6-foot-5, 220-pounder who had 46 catches and scored eight touchdowns for the Hurricanes last season. Streeter could compliment the Ravens current receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith and finally enable the Ravens offense two speedy receivers while placing Boldin the slot position. Great red-zone target for quarterback Joe Flacco however Streeter is considered to be a work in progress. Free-agent acquisition Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, LaQuan Williams, David Reed and the rookie Streeter are all competing for time. Jones is the likely favorite for the No. 3 job after playing in Houston in 2011.
DL DeAngelo Tyson (7th round)- Tyson 6’2?, 236 lb defensive lineman out of Georgia was a reliable interior lineman for an effective and explosive Bulldogs defense. He has the size to play both the 3 and 5 techniques at the next level and is very strong against the run. Tyson has the size and competitiveness to be inserted early and be a force in an NFL rotation. Tyson is a big and strong interior force. He can hold up blocks well to keep his linebackers clean. He gives a good effort in the open field and displays some athletic ability there. He is strong when locking out against engaged offensive linemen and really shows up there when shedding his man. He can get off a block and ignite a powerful step into pursuit, and is a reliable tackler once there.