OWINGS MILLS, Maryland – So much of the scrutiny and angst and concern about the Baltimore Ravens season focuses on the performance of second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson as he spends his first training camp in an offense tailored specifically for him, now out of the shadow of Joe Flacco. I'm far from certain that should be the case.

As the Ravens got on the field at team headquarters Thursday for their first training camp practice – in shells and not yet full pads – all eyes were on Jackson, but the sense among those actually involved in this offense for quite some time is that the former Heisman Trophy winner will be more than just fine. Frankly, as I size up the 2019 Ravens, my primary issue with the team is on the opposite side of the football.

Says here that Jackson – enveloped in a dynamic offense that will feature diverse personnel groups, myriad ways to attack teams on the ground (even the triple option is in play) and far better and faster personnel around him – will continue to confound defenses and evolve as an all-around passer. And while it would be silly to draw too many conclusions from watching this team a bit in the spring and for one camp session (the offense was rusty at times; Jackson is throwing a far tighter spiral than he was at this time a year ago), I continue to search the roster and scan the playing field as to where the pass rush is going to come from.

Matt Judon in a contract year – the sides are nowhere close on a new deal and might never get there – will be a presence in the opposing backfield. I'm just not sure who else might join him there. And I have to believe, this being an aggressive front office led by new general manager Eric DeCosta and having recently lost out on defensive lineman Gerald McCoy, that more potential solutions might be coming from the outside.

Yeah, it's about as early as it can get in terms of camp … but the other options look bleak. Former third-round pick Tim Williams remains the enigma that he was at Alabama – he has yet to earn any real time on the field and may be running out of time to show he is part of the future. Tyus Bowser, taken one round before Williams in 2017, has found a way to be even less useful and hasn't much endeared himself to folks around here. They took a flier on former Broncos draft bust Shane Ray, only he's barely flashed anything at all and can't pass the conditioning test yet in Baltimore. They are hoping small-school standout Jaylon Ferguson, a third-round pick, can make an immediate impact. My money is on ex-Raven Pernell McPhee sticking, but that probably ain't gonna be enough.

"We're without some key guys from last year," Judon noted during a jousting session with the press, during which he playfully made clear how little he intended to reveal. Gone are Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley and Za'Darius Smith from the front seven of last year's superior defensive unit, several of them breaking the bank in free agency. Baltimore has always been able to discover and cultivate defensive talent, and has a few young intriguing options (defensive tackle Willie Henry is opening some eyes), and coordinator Wink Martindale can scheme it up and do more with less, but one can't help but wonder if a free agent like Derrick Morgan or Mike Daniels might be in order here.

Judon very well could post 12 more sacks this season, even with protections rolled his way, but will enough others pitch in five or eight here or there, or will what might be the best secondary in the NFL be forced to cover for eons? "I'm going to go out and try to dominate," Judon said. If a complimentary pass rusher emerges, the Ravens just might do that as a team.

Already plenty to like at QB

The ball is coming out of Jackson's hand with more velocity and accuracy than this time a year ago. His spiral is more consistently tighter, and while he is still a work-in-progress as are all second-year QBs, there is a lot to like here. 

"He's worked really hard on his fundamentals to make sure that when he does have a bad play he knows how to correct it," backup QB Robert Griffin III said of the starter. "And that's part of the solution. If you know what your weaknesses are you can easily fix it and that's what the coaches have been harping on. You don't want him on a five-step throw thinking, 'I have to get my hips into this one.' We just want him to do that naturally and that's kind of what he's been working on and we've all been working on it. And he's getting better at it.

"I don't think he was thinking about it at all last year; I just think he was going out and playing ball. And that's what, to be honest with you, most rookies do. And now this year I also don't think he's thinking about it, but now he knows how to accomplish it, where last year he might not have known the rhythm and timing. And now he knows the rhythm and the timing and we're working on the fundamentals and it's coming naturally for him."

A lot riding on rookie receivers 

This group of receivers may be underwhelming without some immediate dividends from the rookie class. Third-round pick Miles Boykin has good size and flashed a few times, as did undrafted rookie Joe Horn, Jr. (yes, his son). But unless first-round pick Hollywood Marquise Brown can make an impact, there may be a heavy weight for the tight ends to carry. Brown, out all offseason with a lower leg injury, worked off to the side with trainers, but there is hope he could gradually start working into practice next week. "He's on schedule," Harbaugh said.

More Ravens camp notes

  • There were too many issues at the line of scrimmage and with procedural penalties on offense. Center Matt Skura's spot on the depth chart should not be written in Sharpie (I get the impression Bradley Bozeman will have a very legit shot to win that job). "I think the offense looked like it was the first day," Harbaugh said.
  • Right tackle Orlando Brown, Jr. did not pass his conditioning test yet after an excellent rookie season. Would expect him to do so shortly. Same with fellow lineman Jermaine Eluemunor. Rookie Ben Powers got starting reps at guard and versatile Alex Lewis was the first-team right tackle.
  • The Ravens seem to have big plans for free-agent running back Mark Ingram. Besides usual duties, they had him lined up in the slot and even as an outside receiver at times in an empty backfield. Not known so much for his pass catching out of the backfield, that could be changing. "I'm kind of excited about that part of it, too," Harbaugh said.
  • The most obvious difference on this team now compared to watching them go 11-versus-11 at this time a year ago: More high-end speed and twitchy athletes. "No doubt we're faster," Harbaugh said.
  • A lot was made of potent defensive tackle Michael Pierce being taken off the field during OTAs for being out of shape. But he's shed 30 pounds, passed a rigorous conditioning test and has abundant support on this defensive unit as he enters a contract year. "I wasn't diligent in my diet … That's a mistake I will learn from," he said. Harbaugh praised his hard work to get to camp in shape.
  • Would not be surprised at all if corner Marlon Humphrey is being talking about among the very best in the game by the end of this season. The emerging talent has gotten better every year, and with a superb cast around him, offenses aren't going to be able to avoid him. He'll get his hands on the ball plenty. Watch Patrick Onwuasor make people forget about Mosley in this linebacking group. Another very strong breakout candidate.
  • The Ravens are likely to showcase young kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik in the preseason (why risk anything with all-world place kicker Justin Tucker?). He looked good with directional punting in drills Thursday and has a booming kicking leg, and with such a trend in the league for young and cheap kickers and with a team like Chicago in desperate straits, potentially, at that spot, maybe they get a little something for him if he has a strong preseason.