Preseason games are the frontiers of opportunity for NFL hopefuls yet so painful to absorb for viewers. Thankfully the cheap hors d’oeuvres are now out of the way and it’s time to feast on the main course.
But before we do, let’s close the lid on the nasty leftovers with this week’s Report Card.
Caleb Hanie’s QB Rating (61.1) suggests something worse but he should be given credit for standing tall in the pocket while under pressure most of the evening. Last night was his last game as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
RUNNING BACK: C
Bobby Rainey gets a B for his performance and an A for his relentlessness but as a group they averaged 1.6 ypc. Anthony Allen’s fumble at the goal line contributed to his demise as a Raven and Delone Carter was awful in his first and most likely last performance with the team. Kyle Juszczyk won’t be mistaken for No. 44 any time soon but he does have outstanding hands and is a natural born pass catcher.
WIDE RECEIVER: B+
Tandon Doss stepped up when he had to. Perhaps this new sense of urgency can propel his mostly bad professional career to date. Marlon Brown is just an explosive guy and when you combine that with his size he could be dangerous. Aaron Mellette continues to show polish for a guy coming from a small school (Elon University). Judging from the reported hamstring injury, LaQuan Williams might be the guy mysteriously parked on IR this season. Might that mean Deonte Thompson will hit the final 53?
TIGHT END: C-
Dallas Clark isn’t a tight end or a wide receiver. So far as a Raven he only looks like a tight receiver but he’ll probably stick around anyway. Billy Bajema showed up only on special teams and even there, not so much. Matt Furstenburg, a favorite amongst fans since he played at the University of Maryland did not earn a spot on the roster but could still get one by default anyway.
OFFENSIVE LINE: C-
The only players in this unit deserving of any accolades would be Ricky Wagner and to a lesser extent AQ Shipley. The rest, particularly Rogers Gaines, Antoine McClain and Jah Reid were pretty awful, particularly in the running game. If not for Reid’s 3rd round draft status, he would be an ex-Raven.
DEFENSIVE LINE: D
This performance was reminiscent of the D-Line showing against the Cowboys in 2012. Just a sieve! The Rams had 171 net rushing yards and averaged 4.8 ypc.
D.J. Bryant struggled to hold down the edge in run support and John Simon wasn’t as effective as he had been the previous week against Carolina. He is a liability at this point in coverage and his tackling technique was sloppy last night. Nigel Carr is just too stiff at the NFL level and deserved to be cut today. He still could land on the practice squad. Arthur Brown is explosive in short space and a sound tackler. He could be a force as an inside blitzer.
Omar Brown and Brynden Trawick will make it difficult for the Ravens’ coaches today. It would be a mild surprise if both stick but the goal should be to have them both under the Ravens control (53-man roster and practice squad). Asa Jackson had perhaps his worst showing of the preseason while Chykie Brown still struggles with his technique. He’s regressed from last season. Marc Anthony was up and down but mostly down. Matt Elam is a dynamo and he’ll usurp James Ihedigbo by week 3 as the starting strong safety.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Sam Koch averaged 53.5 yards on 8 punts and the coverage unit helped pave the way for a 44.6 yard net average on punts. Rainey averaged 13.5 yards on 2 punt returns while the team averaged 29 yards on kick returns. They yielded 25.5 yard when covering kicks.
It can’t be easy policing amped up players fighting for their lives when the field is consumed by second and third string players. Twenty-three penalties were called adding up to 165 yards (17 for 123 against St. Louis). But some of the calls were pretty bad, particularly a horse collar penalty against Trawick along the sidelines.
As if the end to preseason wasn’t enough to get fans excited, we can say goodbye to RaveTV/WBAL’s for game broadcasts until next August. Now that’s something to rave about!