Ravens-Lions preseason primer: Five players to watch

August 16, 2012 | Luke Jones

Bajema and rookie tight end Matt Balasavage have received plenty of reps in practice with the absences of Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson due to injury. The Ravens are likely to keep a third tight end, and Bajema’s experience and reputation as a good blocker likely gives him the edge over the younger tight ends on the 90-man roster.

The former Rams tight end caught nine passes for 71 yards last season while making 12 starts. He will likely get the start against the Lions while Balasavage will likely fill Pitta’s role when the first team wants to use two-tight end sets. Former fifth-round pick Davon Drew appears to have fallen behind in the race and needs a big performance against the Lions to improve his standing on the depth chart. As was the case with veteran Kris Wilson last year, the third tight end will need to be a special teams contributor to be on the regular-season roster.

4. WR Tommy Streeter

The raw combination of size and speed is there, but Streeter still hasn’t done a great deal to establish himself this summer aside from a couple good practices — one of them coming at M&T Bank Stadium two weeks ago. His hands are inconsistent and his route-running leaves a lot to be desired, but you can’t teach 6-foot-5 height to a player no matter how much you try, which is why I still give him a decent chance to make the 53-man roster.

Streeter will likely receive extensive time with backup Tyrod Taylor and the second offense and must make up some ground as fellow rookie Deonte Thompson has outperformed him this summer. Thompson’s ability to contribute in a variety of special teams works in his favor, meaning Streeter needs to start showing more on the field as a wideout to make the Ravens think long and hard about passing on a wide receiver with his physical tools.

5. DT Terrence Cody

Considered a lock to start along the defensive line, Cody suddenly finds himself fighting off 33-year-old veteran Ma’ake Kemoeatu for the nose tackle job. While coaches and teammates have spoken in flattering terms about Cody’s development and cerebral approach to the game, you still get the sense that the organization isn’t thrilled with him physically.

He lost a great deal of weight from his rookie season to play at a reported 335 pounds last season, but the former Alabama big man appeared to wear down as the season went on and didn’t generate the same push up front as he did early in the season. This summer, Cody hasn’t played poorly, but Kemoeatu’s strong play has been one of the biggest surprises of camp.

My gut still tells me Cody will be the starter — with Kemoeatu becoming a key member of the defensive line rotation — but it will be interesting to see how motivated the third-year defensive lineman is whenever he gets on the field Friday night.