Reporting Mark Zinno
It’s been over three weeks since training camp started. One pre-season game is in the books. And for some reasons, it looks like there are more questions now than when camp started. Here are five things I will continue to watch as we approach pre-season game number two.
1. Offensive line – lots of question marks here, but I still stand by my original assessment that Bryant McKinnie is the starting left tackle or he is cut. There is no other scenario. I think they really like Kelechi Osemele and want to get him in the line-up, but that leaves someone as the odd man out. It could be either McKinnie or Bobbie Williams.
2. Replacing Suggs – Courtney Upshaw got hurt and that may derail his chances to make an impact come week one, but I see him being part of the equation. I am not that high on Sergio Kindle yet. Many of my colleagues think he is making an impact, but I just don’t see it … yet. I hope he can be a factor, but I think it’s an up-hill battle. Paul Kruger is likely going to be the biggest contributor.
3. Ray Rice then who? – Bernard Pierce’s injury also slowed his progress down. Bobby Rainey has impressed a lot. I think he is probably on the roster week 1. Who is actually Rice’s back up and the guy who gets 5-8 carries a game is a competition I think that Cam Cameron and John Harbaugh are enjoying watching. Other backs like Anthony Allen and Damien Berry have show flashes, but no real consistency. It could be a toss up.
4. Wide receiver – We know Boldin, Smith and Jones are in. Who is next? Laquan Williams and Deonte Thompson are my bets. Tandon Doss and Tommy Streeter just haven’t shown enough at this point. Plus, I think that Flacco has a better relationship with Williams and Thompson. This will be a battle that will last until the final cuts are made.
5. Kicking battle – From jump street I said it was closer than anyone thought. I still think it is. People tell me it’s not a level competition and that Billy Cundiff has the advantage. Justin Tucker is making it level … but then again, so is Cundiff. Cundiff has missed 14 kicks this pre-season in practices. Tucker has only missed five. I have said the only way Cundiff succeeds this season is to make EVERY kick. That’s not happening and I think Tucker, to many people’s surprise, wins this battle.
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