The Ravens have now put training camp in their rearview mirror and are focusing on their remaining three preseason games and the Sept.13 regular season opener against the Jets.
With camp done, here are five things that we learned from our three and a half weeks out on the fields at McDaniel College:
- Quarterback Joe Flacco seems perfectly comfortable with his new offensive weapons. Anquan Boldin, Donte' Stallworth and Ed Dickson fit into the Ravens' offensive scheme fairly smoothly, and all three seem to have developed a solid chemistry with Flacco. For the first time in quite a while (and maybe ever), the Ravens break camp with a healthy group of receivers and tight ends that they can be excited about.
- The Ravens got the right man for the job when they hired Ted Monachino as outside linebackers coach this offseason. Monachino is respected by the players and has brought a fresh attitude to the defensive unit. Antwan Barnes and Terrell Suggs both posted very strong camps under Monachino, and the Ravens' pass rush as a whole appears to be much improved.
- Tom Zbikowski is the real deal. Zbikowski was expected to compete with Ken Hamlin for the starting free safety job, but he never gave Hamlin a chance to earn it. The Notre Dame product slimmed down this offseason while adding strength to his neck and shoulders, and it looks like he'll be a more than capable replacement for Ed Reed to start the season.
- Paul Kruger can't be labeled a bust just yet. Kruger added around 20 pounds this offseason and moved from outside linebacker to defensive end, where he's looked very sharp. Kruger still needs to get used to carrying the added weight, but he's got the strength and quickness to make a push for playing time this year. And watch out for his swim move - it's become a nasty weapon.
- Prescott Burgess could evolve into the Ravens' new special teams ace with Brendon Ayanbadejo still on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Burgess led the Ravens in special teams tackles last year despite only playing 13 games in the purple and black, and he had a nice camp this year. He could become the team's jack-of-all-trades on the kick and punt units.