Saturday, August 23, 2014
W2W4: Baltimore Ravens
By Jamison Hensley
The Baltimore Ravens (2-0) and Washington Redskins (2-0) face off in each team's third preseason game Saturday night (7:30 ET) at M&T Bank Stadium.
1. Flacco-Smith connection. One of the impressive parts of training camp was the instant connection between quarterback Joe Flacco and his new receiver Steve Smith. It seemed like every day Smith made at least one catch that caught your attention. That chemistry hasn't carried over into the two preseason games. Smith has two catches for 17 yards. Last week in Dallas, Smith dropped a third-down pass and ran the wrong depth on a route, which led to an incompletion. In what will be the last preseason action for both Flacco and Smith, it's important for them to gain some rhythm heading into the regular season.
2. Depth at cornerback. The Ravens will get a good gauge on whether they need to add another cornerback after the final major cutdown is made at the end of the preseason. The spotlight falls on Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks, both of whom start Saturday night due to injuries. The Ravens are without their top three cornerbacks: Jimmy Smith (chest), Lardarius Webb (back) and Asa Jackson (ankle). Brown and Franks played a large portion of last week's preseason game, and they held up fairly well. Brown and Franks, though, remain big question marks. They will get tested against Redskins wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.
3. The pass rush. The best way to take pressure off the cornerbacks is to put guys on the quarterback. The Ravens haven't gotten much consistent pressure this preseason (three total sacks), which has been among the disappointments for the defense. It's not like the Ravens are holding back either. There have been plenty of times when defensive coordinator Dean Pees has called blitzes. But no one beyond Pernell McPhee and C.J. Mosley has more than one quarterback hurry in the first two preseason games. It's time for Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil to collapse the pocket.