Daniel McInerney
Ravens Joe Flacco.

Baltimore Ravens Preseason Game #3 Preview

The Baltimore Ravens and their league leading rushing offense square off against the Washington Redskins’ prolific passing attack on Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium. Both teams enter Saturday’s game with a 2-­0 record as two of the leagues top pre­season offenses square off.

For many players on both rosters, Saturday’s contest is the last gam e­action they will see before their season openers on Sept. 7. Here are the key matchups we will be looking for during

Saturday’s game:

Ravens’ Ground Attack vs. Redskins’ Defense:

The Ravens average a league­leading 194 rushing yards per game. The Redskins defense allows only 81.5 rushing yards per game. Something has to give.

Last season the Ravens were last in the league with a 3.1­yard per carry average. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak emphasized his desire to establish a more balanced ground game this year and has done so this preseason behind a surprising two headed rushing attack.

Rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, a fourth round pick out of Coastal Carolina, leads the NFL with 130 rushing yards through two games. Taliaferro burst onto the scene during his senior

year when he amassed 1,729 yards on the ground while scoring 27 touchdowns en route to receiving all Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors. With the suspension of All ­Pro running back Ray Rice, who will sit out the first two games of the regular season, Taliaferro should continue to see a solid work load through the start of the season.

Third year back Bernard Pierce completes the tandem powering the Ravens’ ground attack. Pierce is currently ninth in the league with 92 rushing yards and expected to be the starter in Rice’s absence. Taliaferro’s early play gives head coach John Harbaugh the flexibility to ride the hot hand early this season and will have a stable to work with when Rice returns.

Ravens’ Secondary vs. RG3 and Co.

The Ravens will take the field on Saturday without three of their top cornerbacks. In a press conference Wednesday, coach Harbaugh stated cornerback Jimmy Smith, “probably could play if it was a regular season game.”

Along with Smith, Lardarius Webb is still out with a back injury and is not expected to play this preseason and Asa Jackson will sit out with an ankle injury.

Through two games, the Redskins are fifth in the league with 261 yards per game through the air and the second ­best total offense, averaging 408 yards a game. Third year quarterback Robert Griffin III has seen limited action thus far, but expect him to play at least the first half of Saturday’s game.

Cornerbacks Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks will be tested Saturday as they will face Washington receivers Desean Jackson and Piere Garcon. Both receivers have proven big play ability and will look to get vertical against a banged up Ravens secondary.

If the Ravens can generate pressure with their talented front four and shut down Washington’s running backs, it will allow them to play more conservative in the secondary.

“The whole offense is very well stocked with talent. It will give us a good chance to evaluate where we are at and give those guys an opportunity to prove they can play the best” Harbaugh said.

Ravens Receiving Corp

It will be interesting to see if quarterback Joe Flacco can get into a rhythm early Saturday night and spread the ball to his offensive weapons. Flacco has looked good through two games, but the play calling has been conservative and many of his completions have been short.

With the addition of All ­Pro wide receiver Steve Smith and the return of tight end Dennis Pitta, the Ravens have the talent to be a dangerous offense. Wide Receiver Torrey Smith is coming off the best season of his career and should benefit from the additional receiving threats, which will reduce the amount of double coverage he will face, and a consistent rushing attack.

It’s hard to judge a team after just two preseason games and Saturday should give us a better idea of what to expect from the Ravens during the 2014 season.

“This is a good football team. We’re looking forward to playing them. It’s going to be a good test

for us.”

23 Aug 14 - Football, Football Training, NFL, Ravens - Daniel McInerney - No Comments