Old Ravens nemesis and new Rams head coach Jeff Fisher elected to keep his starters on the field for more than a half of play while Ravens head coach John Harbaugh dressed only a handful of starters.
It was a good chance to expose Ravens’ bubble players to top competition before the team is required to cut 22 and get down to their final, 53-man roster on Monday.
However, there were very few standout performances in this runaway 31-17 Rams win.
The team has been very good at unearthing undrafted rookie talent and this year was no exception, with Justin Tucker, Deonte Thompson and Bobby Rainey all looking like candidates for the final 53 when all is said and done.
But it took work to sort through a litany of poor performances – some from players the Ravens will significantly count on during the regular season – to find these gems. The overall grades reflect an indifferent effort across the board in this final preseason tilt.
Starter Tyrod Taylor was not asked to do much as a passer. He connected on eight of 12 tosses – mostly dump offs – for 58 yards. His short stature again was exposed on a batted screen pass attempt.
But he reaffirmed that he is lethal when running the ball, gliding for 22 yards on one carry. He looked best orchestrating the two-minute drill at the end of the half.
Curtis Painter got the nod in the second half and was inconsistent. He was able to move the ball through the air, going 19 for 31 for 193 yards and two TDs. However, he also authored three picks. He forced some hard off-target throws, and made poor decisions under pressure. It was not enough to prove he deserves to leapfrog Taylor and claim the role as Joe Flacco’s backup.
RUNNING BACKS C+
Behind a shuffled line, the running backs got little traction. As a group, they averaged less than three yards per carry on 20 attempts. Starter Bernard Pierce was relegated to a number of quick pitches where he was simply chased out of bounds before he could turn up field.
Bobby Rainey ran more north-south, but had little ground production either. As a pass catcher he was extremely effective, consistently making tacklers miss.
Damian Berry did little to hurt his stock, running with explosiveness and showing good hands. It should have been enough to show he at least deserves a practice squad spot, if not a roster spot elsewhere in the league.
Anthony Allen finally stepped up his game, but it may have been too little too late in this final preseason contest.
WIDE RECEIVERS B-
Deonte Thompson was the most impressive Ravens receiver on the night, making a number of difficult catches, including a TD grab in traffic late in the game and a one-handed catch across the middle. It’s difficult to imagine him not making the squad over sixth-round draft pick Tommy Streeter, who did not play, and may have contracted a mysterious, IR-inducing foot issue.
Veteran Logan Payne impressed as a possession receiver, catching 5 of 6 balls for 58 yards, with one drop. It was enough on film to draw interest from another team, but not enough to crack the Ravens deep wide receiver corps.
Against Rams starters, Tandon Doss caught three balls and showed he could also block on the edge. LaQuan Williams dropped a bubble screen and came back with a catch over the middle.
TIGHT ENDS C+
Billy Bajama locked up the third spot on the depth chart against what amounted to very little competition for the job. He caught just two balls but both were impressive, including a well-thrown Curtis Painter touchdown on a curl route and a diving first-down grab. He also showed he could seal the edge as a run blocker.
Mark Balasavage shorted-armed a ball in traffic and ended up with one catch for one yard. Bruce Figgins was an effective blocker.
The Ravens went deep down their depth chart at tackle so they could take a look at their second-tier tackles at other positions. That meant second-year lineman Cord Howard got the start at left tackle, and he struggled in both the running and passing game, allowing Tyrod Taylor to be stripped near his own goalline for a fumble.
On the right side Kelechi Osemele started, and showed he has quick feet and could set the edge. His replacement, Antoine McClain, had a setback in this game, nearly giving up a sack on a lookout block and false starting for a key penalty.
INTERIOR LINE C
Osemele later moved inside to guard, replacing starter Justin Boren, and handled the transition with ease.
Boren was inconsistent as a blocker and left the game with an ankle injury. Ramon Harewood started on the left side, signaling that the team is looking at him as a swing player to fill the back end of the depth chart on the line. He played very well in space at the second level, but struggled to execute the cut block.
At center, Gino Gradkowski still looks overmatched. His replacement Tony Wragge looked solid and may have secured a role on the team as a veteran backup. There was some predictable confusion with Wragge and Harewood on a line call that allowed a free runner up the middle.
Rams receivers exposed all the corners at one point or another. Cary Williams was victimized playing soft coverage against underneath routes. The Rams took advantage of Jimmy Smith’s aggressiveness and beat him on a double move when he fell down.
Corey Graham showed good awareness as the nickel, running with receivers and finding the ball. Danny Gorrer, on the other hand, struggled to find the ball in the air.
Asa Jackson also struggled with assignments and missed open field tackles. Chykie Brown played adequately later in the game at the nickel spot.
This group looked a little lost and verified that depth at the position is weak, or at least raw. Christian Thompson was able to track simple out routes but there was confusion sorting out assignments on crossing routes. Omar Brown struggled similarly although he showed very good closing speed.
Albert McClellan showed why he deserves to start, doing a very nice job holding the edge and improving on his pass rush.
Brandon Ayanbadejo had an off night—the effort was not there. While he shows great speed to beat interior linemen to the hole, he missed tackles and took bad angles in pursuit, including giving up a one-on-one touchdown on a simple crossing route.
Paul Kruger was up and down, and was literally down as he tried to drop back into coverage on a slant to Danny Amendola that went for a touchdown after the Taylor fumble. He was also slow to pick up the back out of the backfield.
Dannell Ellerbe showed a lot of pop against the run but was less effective in coverage. Nigel Carr looked like an out-of-place safety playing linebacker and was caught flatfooted and a step late reacting in coverage. Chavis Williams was caught playing on his heels too often.
Courtney Upshaw remained one-dimensional. With his hand in the turf, he was the last Raven off the snap, and relied solely on a bull rush to the quarterback. After the game there was talk of a re-injured shoulder.
Sergio Kindle showed tremendous athleticism, but not a lot of awareness. He was flagged for a late hit on the quarterback after the defense had stopped the Rams on third and 22.
DEFENSIVE LINE B-
The defensive line did not play particularly well together as a group, although there were some individual standouts. Terrence Cody and Art Jones started and were steady, but not dominant in any way.
It was difficult to miss a quality performance from Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, whom the Rams’ reserve linemen had difficulty stopping in the second half. Kitchen finished with four tackles, a sack, and a quarterback-hurry.
Bryan Hall displayed an intriguing mixture of quickness and strength, and was moved to different positions on the field, including middle linebacker at one point. He’s still a work in progress, however.
DeAngelo Tyson also showed potential; he had the quickest first step among all linemen and good moves to the quarterback, including a nice swim move that destroyed former Ravens lineman Bryan Mattison. Against the run he was too easily pushed out of the way and didn’t play with much stay-home discipline.
SPECIAL TEAMS C+
Newly anointed kicker Justin Tucker missed left from 57 yards at the end of the first half, but then connected easily from 49 with lots to spare.
Bernard Pierce was given first crack as the kick returner and was not particularly impressive. Fumbling won’t help his case either. He also whiffed on a punt blocking assignment on the edge, which resulted in a near block. A rough night on teams for the rookie.
Bobby Rainey was tentative as a returner, with Deonte Thompson by far the most explosive returning the ball.
LaQuan Williams was flagged for being offside on a kickoff.