Ravens' preseason stock watch

Here's a look at who is rising and falling after the third preseason game:


Pass protection. Quarterback Joe Flacco was under pressure more against the Redskins than his first two preseason games combined. He was sacked twice and hit a total of five times. But, after watching the game again, it wasn't entirely the fault of the offensive line. Of those five hits on Flacco, only two came as a result of an offensive lineman getting beaten (right tackle Rick Wagner and left guard Kelechi Osemele). The others came off poor blocks by running back Bernard Pierce, tight end Crockett Gillmore and the receivers not getting separation (Flacco had to hold onto the ball too long). Either way, the Ravens can't allow that many shots to Flacco in the one half.

Bernard Pierce. He showed he is a legitimate NFL runner again in the first two preseason games, when he averaged 5.4 yards per carry. The biggest concern remains his durability, which became an issue when Pierce left the first quarter Saturday night with a head injury. While he says he's fine, the Ravens need Pierce to be at full strength when he is filling in for Ray Rice as the starting running back for the first two weeks of the regular season. In Pierce's two-year career, h has been on the injury report for 10 weeks for back, ankle, knee, thigh and toe issues.

Owen Daniels. The Ravens' No. 2 tight end has missed the past two preseason games with leg fatigue. The Ravens insist that Daniels isn't injured, but this raises a red flag especially after he broke his leg last year. I've never seen a situation quite like this one in my 14 years of covering the team. Luckily for the Ravens, fullback Kyle Juszczyk (five catches for 53 yards last game) is emerging as a weapon in the passing game. He plays like a tight end in many ways and can lessen the blow if Daniels can't be counted upon.


Joe Flacco in the two-minute drill. Flacco has been at his best late in the first half in each of the past two preseason games. In those two-minute drills, he has completed 11 of 14 passes for 121 yards. Those drives resulted in a total of 10 points. With Flacco in a new system, it wouldn't have been a surprise if he struggled in the hurry-up situations. Instead, he has excelled when forced to make quicker decisions.

Rookies on defense. If this last game is any indication, the Ravens' top three draft picks will make an immediate impact. Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley (first round) made an interception off a deflected pass, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (second round) had two quarterback hits including a sack of Robert Griffin III and defensive back Terrence Brooks had an interception (which was negated) and a sack as the nickelback with the first-team defense. All three are athletic and have a knack for being around the ball.

Brandon Williams. The first-year starting nose tackle is more than a space-eater. He is making plays and doing so in critical situations. In the preseason opener, Williams made a tackle behind the line of scrimmage on third-and-one at the Ravens' 6-yard line to force a field goal. Last Saturday, he again made a stop behind the line in the red zone. A third-round pick from a year ago, Williams is the reason why no one is talking about the Ravens missing Arthur Jones, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts in free agency.