Heading into Saturday’s game we suggested 5 Things to Look For besides the ball.
What did that focus tell us?
1. Tackling: The tackling from the front seven was vastly improved. The open field variety from the secondary still leaves much to be desired and if the Ravens don’t clean that up, look for big plays from opposing offenses this season.
2. Matt Elam: Lost in Space comes to mind and if Elam’s play doesn’t start to ascend soon he’ll be in DANGER of being labeled a bust. Or is that already happening? Let’s keep in mind many said the same about Jimmy Smith. Whatever your opinion, shake up the 4 letters of Elam’s last name and you’ll get how his play has looked thus far.
3. Back-up O-Line: The starters are a given for the moment but on Saturday they took a step backward. Of concern is the play of Eugene Monroe who at this point in the preseason doesn’t appear any more effective in pass pro than recent memories of Bryant McKinnie.
The standout back-up was tackle James Hurst who started OTA’s and camp extremely slowly but has come on as of late almost to the point that he seems like a lock to make the team. John Urschel has also rallied while Ryan Jensen has regressed. It’s nearly shocking that the Ravens considered playing him at right tackle during the offseason. Graham “The Turnstile” Parker took snaps in front of Jensen at right tackle. Either that’s an indication that Jensen is good or that he’s been very bad. Taking only 8 snaps suggests the later given his limited NFL experience. As for Jah Reid, he’s about as dependable as a stripper in Key West although that third round investment in him might save the underachiever for one more season.
4. Corners: I thought the corners would be tested heavily by RG3 along with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon – and burned often. I was wrong thanks to workmanlike efforts from Dominique Franks, Chykie Brown and Anthony Levine. All three have to at least tip their caps to the pressure from the front seven and the continued decline in the play of the one-time phenom named Robert Griffin, III.
5. Battle for No. 6 WR: Kamar Aiken had the edge over Jeremy Butler and Deonte Thompson heading into the game. They left the game with Thompson usurping the lead followed by Aiken and Butler respectively. Thompson should be on the 53-man squad if he performs well on Thursday (unless there’s a trade). You can’t teach speed although inconsistencies have plagued Thompson’s career.