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Three Up, Three Down After Ravens Spring Workouts

June 14, 2019
With rookie minicamp, 10 OTA sessions and three-day mandatory minicamp now behind them, the Ravens have a much better feel for what their roster will look like when the 2019 season kicks off at Miami Sept. 8.

To be sure, as general manager Eric DeCosta and his predecessor Ozzie Newsome have often said, the job of shaping the roster never really ends. There could be more moves as other teams' players get cut or training camp injuries force the Ravens to replenish a position.

This spring represented transition in Baltimore, with an offense rebuilt "from the ground up" and a defense adjusting to massive turnover with the loss of five starters, including some of the most accomplished and respected leaders on the team. But the Ravens sound pleased and optimistic about the progress they've made during the past two months.

As the Ravens prepare to scatter for a five-week break before training camp, here are three players trending upward, and three trending downward, after the spring practice period:


S DeShon Elliott 

With veteran starters Tony Jefferson and Earl Thomas easing back from injuries this spring, Elliott got an extended audition and took full advantage. The second-year safety had perhaps the play of the spring when he ranged far to his right and made a diving interception of a deep pass during one OTA workout. During a minicamp practice, he again showed great range as he picked off a long pass from Robert Griffin III. 

Ravens 2018: DeShon Elliott (Preseason Game 2, Aug. 9 vs. Rams)
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Elliott, a sixth-round draft pick out of Texas last year, missed his rookie season after sustaining a broken arm late in the preseason. He is slotted for a backup role in the Ravens' deep secondary, but he is a physical player who showed confidence, range and a nose for the ball this spring, and among those impressed by him was Thomas, a fellow Texas Longhorn. 

"He's been making plays left and right," Thomas said. "I think it's a Texas thing, but he's been making plays. He's really been standing out in camp."

ILB Chris Board 

Could Board become the Ravens' next undrafted inside linebacker to ascend to a starring role? He seems to be on a trajectory similar to that of Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe, Zach Orr and Patrick Onwuasor, other undrafted inside linebackers who have developed into impact players for the Ravens. 

Ravens 2018: Chris Board (Week 3 vs. Broncos)
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Onwuasor, a returning starter, is expected to replace C.J. Mosley at middle linebacker, leaving Onwuasor's weak-side linebacker spot open. Board is competing with Kenny Young for that job in a competition that figures to last through training camp. Board got extensive run with the starters this spring, and the North Dakota State product has shown all the tools for the job.

"He can run. I mean, my goodness, he can run," defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale said. "He played out in a lot of space at North Dakota State really as a nickel. ...  His instincts are really showing up as an inside 'backer."

TE Mark Andrews

Andrews was already trending up after leading all rookie tight ends in receiving yards last year with 552 (on 34 catches). But with former first-round pick Hayden Hurst finally healthy again, and with Nick Boyle signed to a new three-year, $18 million deal, there is plenty of competition at the tight end position.

Ravens 2018: Mark Andrews (OTAs, May 31)
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Yet it was Andrews who stood out the most among the tight ends and indeed among all pass catchers this spring. Andrews continued to be a popular target for quarterback Lamar Jackson, a connection that developed last year and should only increase this season. He is big, confident, showed he can get open and be a mismatch in coverage. During one red-zone session at a minicamp open to the media, Andrews caught a pair of touchdown passes, and he consistently demonstrated what a valuable part of this offense he can be.


DL Michael Pierce

Pierce's weight and conditioning situation was the No. 1 storyline of mandatory minicamp. After opting to sit out the optional OTA workouts, Pierce reported to minicamp looking much heavier than last year, when the 6-footer was listed 340 pounds. It was bad enough that head coach John Harbaugh told him to leave the practice field after stretching on the first day of minicamp, citing health and safety reasons.  

Ravens 2018: Michael Pierce (Week 7 vs. Saints, hands on hips)
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

Pierce, who originally made the Ravens as an undrafted rookie, received a $3.095 million, second-round tender as a restricted free agent this spring.

When he's on his game, Pierce is a force on the inside and one of the top run-stuffers in the league. The Ravens are hoping that Pierce can get himself in shape in the five weeks before training camp begins, but it's fair to wonder what impact this will have on his long-term value as he begins a contract year.

K Kaare Vedvik

New special teams coordinator Chris Horton said Vedvik is "right on schedule," but he was inconsistent during spring practices open to the media. At one workout, he missed three straight field-goal tries between 40 and 49 yards, and missed a few the next day as well. Vedvik impressed last summer as an undrafted rookie out of Marshall, but then spent the entire season on the non-football injury list after he was assaulted in Baltimore and briefly hospitalized at the end of the preseason.

Ravens 2018: Kaare Vedvik (training camp July 22)
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

There's no path to the roster in Baltimore with Justin Tucker entrenched as the franchise kicker, but the Ravens would love to see another impressive summer from Vedvik generate trade offers. Harbaugh has said Vedvik would have had a shot to kick in the NFL last season had he not been injured, and he'll be showcased this preseason once again. He'll need to fare better than he did this spring to generate trade interest again. 

G Alex Lewis

Lewis has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career, and he missed all the spring workouts with a shoulder injury. Lewis opted to rehab on his own this spring rather than with the Ravens' medical staff, so their interaction with him has been limited. 

Ravens 2018: Alex Lewis (Week 9 vs. Steelers, at line)
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

If healthy, Lewis would be in the mix at left guard, where he has made 18 starts. But Lewis has missed 28 of 48 games during his three-year career, missed all the spring workouts, and the Ravens added promising rookie fourth-round pick Ben Powers to the mix. Lewis, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, has work to do to regain his footing in a competition that includes James Hurst, Jermaine Eluemunor, Bradley Bozeman and Powers. In Lewis' favor: There's not a clear-cut starter in the bunch.

Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka

Photo Credits: Kenya Allen/PressBox