The Ravens entered the offseason with a dire need for depth at the cornerback position behind starters Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, and they didn’t waste any time collecting players from the free agent wire. And it’s a good thing they did, because the start of training camp saw Aaron Ross tear his Achilles’s tendon, Dominique Franks show up out of shape, and Webb miss multiple sessions with back spasms. Not a good way to kick things off.
On top of that, returning special teamer Chykie Brown spent the first few days of practice getting routinely burned on the field, injuring his hamstring in the process. John Harbaugh told reporters that the Ravens weren’t necessarily seeking out healthy bodies, but would add a guy if they thought it would help improve the team.
These developments have seemingly opened the door for another guy the Ravens once had high hopes for – Asa Jackson. After Brown went down, Jackson stepped in and reportedly looked solid. After serving two suspensions in two seasons for violating the performance enhancing drug policy, the Ravens really haven’t had a chance to see what Jackson can do. He has missed a total of 12 games during that span, after all.
The former fifth round pick is known for his speed and solid special teams play, but has also exhibited quick feet in practice. Steve Spagnuolo quickly took notice, telling reporters “He has really jumped out there and impressed everybody, players, coaches. He’s doing a lot of things we knew he could do. He’s a feisty player, and people are going to knock him because of his lack of height, but he plays big. He’s been really good.”
Another guy looking to get in the mix after missing three practices because of failed conditioning tests is free agent acquisition Dominique Franks. Franks has a good shot at cracking the rotation if only because the Ravens simply need bodies at this point. The former Falcon has played very sparingly in his four seasons in the NFL, but didn’t look too bad in his first appearance at Ravens camp.
“He didn’t jump out in a negative way,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Dominique didn’t, so that’s positive for a corner. And we’re happy to get him out there, because we needed the legs out there, and he’s a talented guy.”
The opportunity is certainly there for both Franks and Jackson to step up and claim their spot in the rotation. The Ravens desperately need one or both of them to do so. The question is, will they?