Top 5 training camp battles -- No. 1: WR

Top 5 training camp battles -- No. 1: WR
June 1, 2013, 11:15 am
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As the Ravens wrap up their second week of voluntary offseason team activities (OTAs) this week, players, especially young ones, are already trying to make a name for themselves and work their way up the depth chart.

All this week we have been taking a look at the top five key position battles that figure to be waged through the summer as the Ravens craft their 2013 roster.

No. 5 -- Nose tackle

No. 4 -- Safety

No. 3 – Center

No. 2 -- Cornerback

Finally we've reached No. 1: Wide receiver -- Tandon Doss vs. Deonte Thompson vs. David Reed vs. TBA

 Anquan Boldin is gone to the 49ers, leaving a gaping hole in the Ravens offense. There are plenty of young receivers on the Ravens roster. Are any of them ready to step up and spell Boldin? Or will the Ravens go out and make an August or early September acquisition, as they did to add T.J. Houshmandzadeh in 2010 and Lee Evans in 2011?

For now, the Ravens appear willing to let their in-house candidates compete for the job, and there is no shortage of hands on deck.

The front-runner is probably Doss, who has been Boldin's primary understudy for the past two years. But Doss, a fourth-round pick two years ago, has seven career catches for 123 yards and one touchdown, which amounts to just a good afternoon for Boldin.

Doss has been praised by his coaches for his hands, but he had several ill-timed drops last season among his 18 targets.

Deonte Thompson, who made the team as an undrafted free agent last year, has shown a lot of speed and has physical tools but is unproven. He hardly played on offense last year. His speed earned him the starting kick return job, though he ultimately lost it to Jacoby Jones.

Jones is another intriguing option, but he is more suited to being a return specialist and deep threat rather than a slot receiver a la Boldin. And as long as he remains the Ravens primary return threat, his work on offense may be limited.

David Reed, a former fifth-round pick who missed parts of two seasons with a torn ACL, has five career receptions, all coming last season.

LaQuan Williams and Tommy Streeter, who spent all last season in injured reserve, also will be fighting for their chance.

Boldin led the Ravens with 65 receptions last season and was unstoppable in the playoffs, with 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns. Boldin also led the Ravens in receiving yardage the past three seasons, and added a toughness that can't easily be quantified.

Are any of these receivers ready to step up and replace that? Are they ready to be the three-down, fight-off-a-jam-at-the-line, grab-it-in-traffic threat that Boldin was?

Speaking after the Ravens OTA session on Friday, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell acknowledged that, "There is a void to fill in that regard. But, we have some very, very capable people that can step in and do the job. ... We have a lot of young guys that are coming along, getting an opportunity to get out there and perform."