It might seem like the 2009 season just ended (at least it does to me), but the Ravens will kick off the 2010 campaign today with their first team minicamp.
This morning marks the beginning of a three-day, mandatory session which will include both the veterans and the rookies. There is no hitting allowed (so says the NFL), but the Ravens will use these sessions to install the early pieces of their 2010 playbook.
The minicamps should be high tempo and intense, as most John Harbaugh-led activities are. The sessions are not open to the public, but I'll have all the details on the goings-on in Owings Mills right here on MASNsports.com.
Here are five things that will be worth monitoring starting this weekend:
1. How good will Anquan Boldin look in a Ravens jersey?
Ravens fans have long been waiting for a No. 1 receiver to call their own, and Anquan Boldin is finally here. A month and a half after the trade that brought him from Arizona to Baltimore, Boldin will toss on a Ravens jersey and participate in his first minicamp with the team today. A lot will be expected of the three-time Pro Bowler, and it will be interesting to see how he looks coming out of the gate.
2. Can a young corner step up and help fill an area of need?
With Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb unlikely to participate in full team workouts for most of the offseason, there's a big opportunity for a young cornerback to step up and show the coaches that he can help pick up the slack. Cary Williams, K.J. Gerard (who played safety last year but might get reps at corner this offseason), Prince Miller, Courtney Smith and Wondy Pierre-Louis all will have a shot to show what they can do.
3. Who will take an early lead in the battle for the kick return jobs?
Chris Carr handled punt returns last year, and Jalen Parmele finished the season as the Ravens' kickoff returner, but those jobs are not locked up entering 2010. Miller will be in the mix for the return spots, as will fifth-round pick David Reed. Obviously neither job will be won or lost this weekend, but it definitely won't hurt for these guys to show some burst starting today.
4. Which young tight end will begin to show signs as Todd Heap's future replacement?
Many people might assume that third-round pick Ed Dickson and fourth-rounder Dennis Pitta will be battling for the backup tight end job, but don't forget about Davon Drew, the Ravens' fifth-rounder last year, who spent the '09 season on the practice squad. With three young guys fighting for reps, this should be an interesting storyline to follow this offseason.
5. Can Terrell Suggs get back to peak form?
Suggs battled injuries last year and was inconsistent, posting just 4.5 sacks on the season. The Ravens added Ted Monachino, Suggs' former coach at Arizona State, as their outside linebackers coach for this season, a move which they hope will help get the "Sizzle" back in their best pass rusher. Suggs has stayed around Ravens headquarters so far this offseason, and the team hopes that his improved conditioning will lead to better results in 2010. We'll see how he looks this weekend.