Yes there is still about one month until opening day, but early signs since the lockout was lifted show the Ravens giving a lot of young players their opportunity to step up and prove they can contribute. With the departures of Todd Heap, Willis McGahee, Derrick Mason, Kelly Gregg and others, a lot of new faces have stepped in. And while the Ravens have signed free agents Vonta Leach, Bernard Pollard and Ricky Williams, there are still plenty of young players filling out spots on the two-deep depth chart.
Many of them will be getting their first taste of football Thursday night in the first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Look for a ragged contest, probably on both sides as teams continue to shake off the rust from the long lockout. For the Ravens, the one question that hopefully begin to get answered is this: can any of these rookies and new faces be part of the final roster? Can they step in and make plays? Names like Sergio Kindle, Terrence Cody, Ed Dickson, Jah Reid, Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss (to name a few) will get their chances. Football teams value experience, but young players have to gain their experience by playing. Thanks to the salary cap, teams have to find players that can step in when their number is called as soon as possible, because they never know when it might be their time.
There may be more moves to come in the next few weeks, before the Steelers come to town. Finding a backup quarterback, a center and more depth at other positions will be crucial. But as of right now, the young players have the opportunity to show that the belief placed in them by the organization was not given in vain.