Projected Week 1 starting lineup

Projected Week 1 starting lineup
May 28, 2014, 11:00 am
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(Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports)

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The Ravens will begin their first voluntary OTA session today, meaning the team takes its first true step toward the 2014 season. It's still nearly two months until training camp begins, and more than three months until the season opener on Sept. 7 against Cincinnati.

Who will take the field to begin the season opener? NFL.com has listed its projected starting lineup for the Ravens, and Pro Football Focus has produced its Ravens depth chart, although PFF gives the Ravens the luxury of 14 offensive starters and 12 defensive starters.

Here is our take on who will take the field as the Ravens starting lineup in Week 1. One caveat: a "starter" in football, perhaps more than any other sport, can be a misleading term; if the Ravens play their first defensive snap in a nickel formation, Chykie Brown might technically be a starter, but no one is suggesting he is a starting cornerback over Jimmy Smith or Lardarius Webb. Ricky Wagner made two starts last year, but only because of the formation on the Ravens' first offensive snap. He did not make any starts at either left or right tackle.

But assuming the Ravens line up in their base alignments to begin the game against Cincinnati, here is how they might look:

OFFENSE

QB: Joe Flacco

RB: Bernard Pierce

LT: Eugene Monroe

LG: Kelechi Osemele

C: Jeremy Zuttah

RG: Marshal Yanda

RT: Rick Wagner

TE: Dennis Pitta

TE: Owen Daniels

WR: Torrey Smith

WR: Steve Smith

Comments: The Ravens should expect to be without Ray Rice for the season opener. If he is suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, even if Rice appeals and the suspension is lessened, expect him to miss at least the season opener. Bernard Pierce needs to come to camp healthy, stay healthy and be ready to go against a very strong Cincinnati defensive front. The Ravens have said they will give Rick Wagner every opportunity to win the right tackle job. And Jeremy Zuttah takes over at center. Last year, the Texans under Gary Kubiak ran more two tight-end sets than any other team, so expect to see Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels on the field together a lot.

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DEFENSE:

DE: Chris Canty

NT: Haloti Ngata

DT: Brandon Williams

OLB: Courtney Upshaw

OLB: Terrell Suggs

ILB: Daryl Smith

ILB: C.J. Mosley

CB: Jimmy Smith

CB: Lardarius Webb

FS: Darian Stewart

SS: Matt Elam

Comments: The defensive front alignment will be one of the most interesting things to watch this training camp. Does Brandon Williams elevate to the starting lineup? What about DeAngelo Tyson, who came on strong last season? Or rookie Timmy Jernigan? Where does Haloti Ngata line up?  Courtney Upshaw will start on run downs, as he did last year, with Elvis Dumervil replacing him in passing situations. Rookie C.J. Mosley gets the nod alongside Daryl Smith. In the secondary, expect rookie Terrence Brooks to ultimately win a starting safety job, but it might not happen in Week 1. When in doubt the Ravens often defer to veterans, and Stewart has history with new Ravens secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo. Last season, veteran Michael Huff started the opener over rookie Matt Elam.

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