W2W4: Baltimore Ravens

August, 7, 2014
8/07/14
12:00
PM ET
The Baltimore Ravens play host to the San Francisco 49ers to open the preseason Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium.

1. How the cornerbacks hold up. The most pressing concern for the Ravens is the depth at cornerback. Lardarius Webb will miss at least the first two preseason games with a back injury. That means Chykie Brown most likely will start opposite Jimmy Smith in the opener. All eyes should be on Brown, Asa Jackson and undrafted rookies Tramain Jacobs and Deji Olatoye . Brown has played better recently after struggling mightily in the first week of camp. Jackson has had a solid camp, but he has to prove he can play on the outside (and not just in the slot). If the Ravens don't have a comfort level with the corners beyond Smith and Webb, they'll have to make a move before the regular season begins.

2. Effectiveness of the running game. Ray Rice has captured national attention this offseason, but the focus on the Ravens' offense will be the running game as a whole. The Ravens produced the fewest rushing yards in their history last season, and they're adjusting to Gary Kubiak's new running scheme. It's all about lineman zone blocking on stretch runs and backs making one cut before turning upfield. Rice is expected to play one or two series before giving way to Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro.

3. Wide receiver competition. The top four receivers -- Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown -- are locks to make the team. The remaining receivers are battling for one or two spots. Kamar Aiken has been the biggest surprise of camp, impressing the team with his strong hands. Rookie seventh-round pick Michael Campanaro has shown off his quickness, but he has had trouble staying healthy. He might not play because of a rib injury. Undrafted rookie Jeremy Butler hasn't stood out as much as he did in the offseason workouts. Deonte Thompson has dropped several passes, and as a result, he has dropped further down the depth chart. LaQuan Williams has a better shot at making the team because of what he does on special teams. “In all my years in the league, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen as competitive of a situation as we have at receiver right now,” offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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