Ladies and gentlemen, we're now exactly a week away from the start of Ravens training camp.
Next Monday, Ravens quarterbacks, rookies and select veterans will report to the Best Western in Westminster. They'll have their first practices on Tuesday, and the rest of the team will join them on Wednesday.
Throughout the week, I'll be going through the Ravens' entire roster, taking a position-by-position look at who you can expect to see in camp and what they need to do to improve their game, earn a starting job, or make the roster.
I'll start this series by looking at the quarterbacks. And away we go...
Joe Flacco, 6-6, 230 pounds, 3rd NFL season
Where he stands: You might have heard of this guy. He went to the University of Delaware, has gone 20-12 in his two seasons since being drafted in the first-round back in 2008 and has won three playoff games since coming to Baltimore. Despite the recent addition of Pro Bowl signal-caller Marc Bugler, Flacco is clearly the Ravens' starting quarterback and John Harbaugh and company are putting their Super Bowl hopes on his shoulders.
What must be done: At times last year, Flacco looked like a top-five NFL quarterback, but he needs to become more consistent. In the Ravens' first six games of the 2009 season, Flacco averaged nearly two touchdown passes a game and had a quarterback rating of 93.7. Over the team's next six games, Flacco averaged just 0.5 touchdown passes per game and his quarterback rating was 76.5. He also needs to work on his red zone efficiency and become more confident working over the middle of the field. New wide receiver Anquan Boldin should help in both areas.
Marc Bulger, 6-3, 208 pounds, 10th NFL season
Where he stands: Bulger is the Ravens' backup quarterback, and he knows it. After a rough last three years with the Rams, the two-time Pro Bowler signed a one-year contract with the Ravens this offseason which will pay him $3.8 million - an incredibly high figure for a clipboard-holder. The reason the Ravens shelled out all that dough? Insurance. Bulger is a proven NFL quarterback who can step in if Flacco gets hurt and the offense shouldn't miss a beat. He can also serve as a mentor/advisor for Flacco.
What must be done: Stay healthy, learn Cam Cameron's playbook and help Flacco whenever he needs it. Bulger has had more than his share of bumps and bruises over the last couple years (partly due to horrendous offensive line play in St. Louis), but he's no good to the Ravens if he gets injured in camp or the preseason. He needs to stay in one piece and develop as much of a rapport with his offensive teammates as possible so he's ready if called upon.
Troy Smith, 6-0, 215 pounds, 4th NFL season
Where he stands: The Ravens' addition of Bulger didn't do much for Smith's job security in Baltimore or, likely, his ego. The former Heisman Trophy winner hasn't been happy being the Ravens' backup quarterback the last two years (see: the multiple trade requests), and now, the best he can hope for is the team's third-string job. The Ravens essentially put Smith on the trading block this offseason by placing a fifth-round RFA tender on the Ohio State product, but no other team was willing to pull the trigger on a deal.
What must be done: All Smith can do at this point is go out to Westminster, say all the right things and work hard. If he performs well, he: A. Could earn the Ravens' third-string job, or B. Impress another team enough to make his trade wishes become a reality. Smith only has two NFL starts under his belt and hasn't gotten a lot of chances to showcase his ability in game situations thus far, so every snap he gets in preseason action will be big when it comes to the trade possibilities.
John Beck, 6-2, 216, 4th NFL season
Where he stands: Beck will be battling Smith for the third-string position. Once a second-round pick, Beck has yet to meet expectations, but he does have potential and could turn into a solid backup.
What must be done: The BYU product has to show off the accurate arm and poise in the pocket that led to him being taken by the Dolphins with the 40th overall pick in 2007. Beck has spent a lot of time with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron - who was the head coach in Miami Beck's rookie year - and needs to prove that he can run Cameron's offense smoothly when he gets the opportunity.