Friday, August 15, 2008
By James Walker
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
This weekend the Baltimore Ravens will host the Minnesota Vikings at M&T Bank Stadium in what should be a solid tune up for both teams. We will be there to take in the action.
Here are some things to look for in Saturday's game:
- This is another important game for the quarterbacks, which has been the biggest story line in Baltimore throughout training camp and the preseason. After Kyle Boller got the start and committed two turnovers in the preseason opener, it will be Troy Smith's chance to state his case for the starting job. Smith entered camp as the favorite and can create distance this weekend with a solid performance. So far, Boller, Smith and rookie Joe Flacco haven't done anything significant in camp to win the job outright.
- Flacco should see the field more often against Minnesota. If Smith doesn't stand out and Flacco plays well, there is a chance that the rookie may get the start next week, or at least significant playing time, in an effort to give all three quarterbacks an equal opportunity. There is a sense in Baltimore that the coaching staff ideally wouldn't want to throw Flacco out there early this season, which is why it is important for Smith to have a good game this weekend.
- Newly-signed fullback Lorenzo Neal is expected to make his Ravens debut Saturday. Neal is a former Pro Bowler that was signed this week to bring stability to a struggling unit. He played under Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron while the pair were in San Diego, which has helped Neal's learning curve.
- Rookie running back Ray Rice will get his second start of the preseason in place of the injured Willis McGahee (knee). His debut was not impressive, gaining just 12 yards on six carries. But Rice will get more opportunities to see how he fits in Baltimore's offense, especially now that McGahee will miss the entire preseason.
- Don't turn away from the television on special teams. Baltimore is expected to have one of the deepest and most exciting units in the NFL this year. Head coach John Harbaugh, a former special teams assistant, is putting a lot of focus on the third phase of the game and last week returner Yamon Figurs showed that it's already paying dividends.