Editor’s note: Beat writer Aaron Wilson gives his take on what to keep an eye on during the Baltimore Ravens’ preseason game tonight against the New York Giants at FedEx Field:
1. How will the pass protection fare against a strong pass rush?
The Ravens’ offensive line will be tested by a formidable trio of defensive ends in Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora. Tony Moll gets the start again at right offensive tackle. Michael Oher performed solidly against Brian Orakpo last week against the Washington Redskins, but this is a much tougher task. If the Ravens can give Joe Flacco enough time, their passing game could start clicking.
2. What’s on the line for cornerbacks Prince Miller and Travis Fisher?
Miller is auditioning for a roster spot having probably already done enough to make the practice squad. The diminutive undrafted rookie has averaged 19.3 yards per punt return, including a long return of 57 yards, and has held up well as a nickel back. Fisher is a veteran who started against the Redskins, but was beaten for a 45-yard bomb. If he performs better, he increases his chances of earning some playing time and convincing the Ravens they don’t need to pull off a trade for more depth at the position.
3. Will the Ravens be able to stuff the run?
During the regular season two years ago, the Giants ran roughshod over the Ravens. It was an embarrassing game, and the Ravens haven’t forgotten what happened. Squaring off with running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, the Ravens’ vaunted front seven should get quite a workout.
4. Who has the edge for the third wide receiver spot?
Mark Clayton has owned that status for the entire preseason, catching four passes for 55 yards and one touchdown. Clayton’s knowledge of the offense is a big plus. Donte’ Stallworth is more explosive and leads the Ravens with 73 receiving yards on four receptions, averaging 18.3 yards per catch.
5. Who’s not going to play?
The following players are not expected to play against the Giants: offensive tackles Jared Gaither (upper back disc) and Oniel Cousins (concussion), nose guard Terrence Cody (swollen left knee), center-guard David Hale (bruised tailbone), offensive guard Daniel Sanders (left shoulder) and safety Marcus Paschal (right quadriceps). Wide receivers Demetrius Williams (sprained right ankle) and Eron Riley (lower back strain), defensive tackle Brandon McKinney (swollen knee) and linebacker Jameel McClain (swollen left knee) all missed practices this week, but have predicted they’ll play. Williams is regarded as a game-time decision. The timing for him to miss a game is extremely bad as he’s battling with Marcus Smith and David Reed for the fifth receiver spot.