NFL Nation: 2014 NFL Preseason Week 4 WAS at BAL W2W4

W2W4: Washington Redskins

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
12:00
PM ET
The Washington Redskins (2-0) and Baltimore Ravens (2-0) play their third preseason game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
  1. Defense. After facing Ryan Mallett in the preseason opener and a dreadful Cleveland offense in the second game, the Redskins’ defense finally gets a challenge in Baltimore’s offense. The Ravens have a legitimate quarterback in Joe Flacco, some dangerous receivers led by Torrey Smith and a potentially strong ground game (Baltimore has averaged 4.9 yards per carry in the first two preseason games). The Redskins' defense has dominated so far, but this game will be a much better test.
  2. Jason Hatcher's debut. The Redskins signed Hatcher to provide an interior pass rush, something they have lacked the past two seasons. He missed the first two preseason games while working his way back after arthroscopic knee surgery in June. Hatcher said he feels quicker than in the past. He'll likely play around 10 to 12 snaps. What sort of football shape is he in? Will he play low? Hatcher is a big key to the season.
  3. Robert Griffin III's progression. This always is something to watch. It’s not just about when he should slide or not slide. It’s also about continuing to improve as a passer. Aside from one pass against Cleveland -- albeit an ugly one -- Griffin was solid. He needs another game like that, without the turnovers. And, yes, everyone will pay attention when Griffin runs. It helps that he’ll play at least a half, giving him more time to work with his new wideouts.

W2W4: Baltimore Ravens

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
12:00
PM ET
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.

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