NFL Training Camps are in full swing and the storylines are constantly emerging around the league. Some reporters are still so focused on the off-field issues and controversies surrounding suspensions that they seem to have forgotten what this time of year is all about. We should be excited for the start of the next football season. We should be focused on the position battles developing in training camp. We should be watching the teams in our division and seeing what offseason changes and improvements they’ve made. There are plenty of undrafted rookies and players fighting for a spot on the roster. Possibly the most important part of preseason football (besides crossing our fingers that everyone stays healthy) is getting to know the new faces that could potentially be the next stars of the franchise. Here’s the rookies to watch in 2014:
C.J. Mosley – ILB | Alabama
The Baltimore Ravens, with their highest first round draft pick (17th overall) since Haloti Ngata (12th overall) in 2006, decided to draft a linebacker. Understandably there are high hopes for the 2013 Butkus Award Winner and 2-time First Team All-American out of Alabama. John Harbaugh made a few comments about C.J. after the first rookie mini-camp that all sounded positive; “Probably the first impression is that he seems very comfortable in a defense. He understands the game very well. So, he’s been really well-coached, obviously, down [at Alabama]. That was a big plus coming out – we knew that… Plus, he is athletic, and he moves around really well.” (quote via BaltimoreRavens.com)
Lorenzo Taliaferro – RB | Coastal Carolina
With a two-game suspension looming for the star running back of the Baltimore Ravens looming at the beginning of the season, the Ravens will need production from their 2nd and 3rd stringers. Bernard Pierce, as the 3rd down back, and Justin Forsett, who is familiar with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s offense, are the obvious choices for the next man up but the Ravens have been pleased with Lorenzo Taliaferro’s performance on the field. At the Ravens’ Rookie Mini-Camp coach Harbaugh said this about Taliaferro: “I thought Lorenzo was very smooth running the ball. He did a nice job picking up the aiming points and the reads. He looks like he is a big guy, a downhill guy. I was very impressed with what kind of shape he is in. There is not an ounce of fat on him, and he is 230 pounds. [He is] very good at pass protection. I thought he showed excellent hands and get-away ability on his routes when he went against a linebacker. So [it was] all good that way.”(quote via BaltimoreRavens.com)
Timmy Jernigan – NT | Florida State
The Ravens picked up this defensive tackle with the 48th pick in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft after he elected to forgo his senior year as a Florida State Seminole. He was awarded First Team All-ACC and Second Team All-American after the Noles won the BCS National Championship game in 2013. Jernigan had a scare in Wednesday’s practice but walked off the field under his own power. With Terrance Cody hobbled by injury and not playing up to expectations, Jernigan is a viable replacement for the defensive tackle position.
Terrence Brooks – FS | Florida State
The Ravens backfield in 2014 could very well contain two very young players in Matt Elam (22) and Terrence Brooks (23). There is obvious concern putting these two green safeties on the field at the same time and it has nothing to do with the fact that one of them hails from Florida and the other from Florida State. This will be one player to really keep an eye on this season especially with the Lardarius Webb injury and questionable corner play.
Brent Urban – DE | Virginia
The Ravens really seemed to like something about this Canadian guy who played his college ball at the University of Virginia. He was an Honorable Mention All-ACC in 2013 even though he didn’t play in the last 4 games of the season due to injury. Interestingly enough, he was also drafted in the CFL by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2013. Obviously he decided to come to the big league and play for the Ravens. In practice on Wednesday, Urban went down with an injury to his right knee. At the time of the article, no announcement has been made about the MRI or prognosis for the 6’7″ 295 lb defensive lineman.
Michael Campanaro – WR | Wake Forrest
Everybody loves it when a local guy comes back home to play for the home team. Michael Campanaro played his high school ball for River Hill in Clarksville (Howard County, MD). He went out of state to ACC football at Wake Forest but we won’t hold that against him. The 23 year old wide receiver is only 5’9″ 192 lb which brings comparisons to players like Julian Edelman and Wes Welker. Much like either of those now well-known pros, he’s flying under the radar early in his career. Let’s hope he can put up those kind of numbers if the Ravens can find a spot for this hometown guy on the roster and on the field.