It’s getting close.

Next week Training Camp officially opens and fans around Baltimore couldn’t be more excited. So excited and passionate that I wanted to take a break and talk about something that doesn’t involve Derrick Mason and which wide receivers won’t be coming to Baltimore.

A new season always has its share of questions and as we know it takes certain unique individuals to answer those questions with their accomplishments.

Who to watch in 2009:

Ray Rice: The now starting running back will surely be at the top of most pre-season lists to break out. The 5?8? Rice has the potential to be that explosive player that the offense lacks and it will be interesting to see how he is utilized in Cam Cameron’s offense. Rice’s attitude has been tremendous as he has bulked up and taken to the heart the knowledge of playing a season in the NFL. Even still he led the backs with 33 receptions in 2008 and I’d expect the Screen pass to be an effective play call for the Blackbirds this year.

Dawan Landry: Anytime you return from serious injury there will always be whispers of weather you can return to your former abilities. Landry’s comeback is key to the revamped secondary as he provides a true physical presence off the back line. In only a few pro seasons he’s shown he can not only pick off passes (5 in 2006) but also deliver the wood. (83 Total Tackles in 2007) If Landry isn’t quite himself I expect second year Tom Zbikowski to get the nod and step into the Jim Leonhard role.

Michael Oher: If Oher can grasp the offense and take over the Right Tackle position the offensive line could have vast potential and it would allow the offense to become even more versatile and creative. He has great physical gifts and instincts but we know it takes more than that to succeed at football’s highest level.

Tavares Gooden: The great teams have a habit of grooming their own replacements in-house making sure they are familiar with the way things are done and then let them loose. Second year man Gooden simply needs to shake the injury tag that has been with him since college. If he stays on the field he’ll be able to help aid the loss of Bart Scott. He flies to the ball and will fit in well with the Raven mentality on defense.

Todd Heap: He’s had a very good eight year career in Baltimore. But, what does he have left? He’s coming off his worst reception season playing 16 games (35) for various reasons and he still seems to be plagued by minor injuries. With health concerns in L.J. Smith and Quinn Sypniewski at the backups the team needs him to provide stability more than ever. Is this the swan song for the Ravens’ all-time franchise leader in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns?

Domonique Foxworth: The Randallstown product will pair with Fabian Washington to give the Ravens one of the fastest corner tandems in the league. But is a player who has 4 career interceptions worth $16.5 million dollars of guaranteed money? In the Ravens defense the pressure should be there and if he’s disciplined in his coverages he’ll have more chances for picks.

So who do you think will be a Raven to pay close attention to in 2009?