The Ravens got through the game using just 43 players. The starters rested, putting an end to the discussion of some camp battles. Of specific note:
* AQ Shipley got the start, which means Gradkowski will likely start Thursday in Denver
* Ihedigbo had the night off at SS. Elam played well in his stead and it’s not clear what that might mean for Denver
* The Ravens played just 4 defensive linemen (Larsen, Cody, Tyson, and Brandon Williams)
* The Ravens sat 4 OLBs (Dumervil, Suggs, Upshaw, and McPhee), which left them a little thin with Simon and Bryant starting. Bryant was hurt late in the first half and former Gilman star Copeland was inserted at ROLB
* Josh Bynes was given the night off, which probably means Arthur Brown will not be a 3-down player initially
The battle at WR continued with a notable absentee. Marlon Brown, Aaron Mellette, and Tandon Doss each saw significant playing time, but LaQuan Williams did not play any snaps as a WR and word has since trickled out that the former Terp has a hamstring issue. Brown, Mellette, and Doss all had 70+ yards receiving and were the targets on 24 of Hanie’s 39 passed.
As in past years, I have given a number of Ravens a grade from +3 to -3 reflecting how much my expectation of their impact on the 2013 Ravens changed based on their performance Thursday. I don’t rate starters, players who have no place on the team, or anyone for whom I don’t think I have any data for a judgment. The players here are new to the team, rookies, on the cusp of making the team, have new responsibilities in 2013, in positional battles, or have otherwise have something to prove this season.
There are fewer grades this week due to the initial round of cuts (e.g. Harewood, Streeter) and IR moves (e.g. Hamilton). The grades given are expressed as (vs. Rams)/(Preseason Total).
Individual Grades and Notes
Anthony (-1/-2): I did not expect him to be cut. Chykie Brown (3rd year) has not played well and Anthony has more optionality as a rookie. Anthony had a dumb special-teams penalty where he ran out of bounds without being pushed (Q3, 1:47) but then made the tackle on the re-punt. He also recovered Elam’s forced fumble (Q1, 10:54) and returned it 19 yards. He’s still a PS candidate.
Brown, Arthur (0/0): The 0 rating for the game or camp isn’t a bad thing for a highly-touted player like Brown. I had high expectations for him and those have not changed. While I am a little disappointed he won’t be a 3-down player immediately, he and Daryl Smith have demonstrated coverage skills that will serve the team well versus today’s offenses. He’s shown terrific quickness, but it remains to be seen if he is too small for this league.
Brown, Chykie (-2/-5): He’s the most consistently inconsistent Raven. Harbaugh was visibly upset with him when he failed to defend the sticks on 3rd and 14 (Q2, 8:31). He also failed to locate a jump ball down the right sideline (Q2, 6:45) which set up the Rams first touchdown. On the very next play (Q2, 5:57) he was flagged for pass interference in the end zone on a fade route. I should be done beating on him, but he also telegraphs seemingly every corner blitz due to a lack of timing (see Q1, 6:08). Chykie has a role on special teams, but I would personally prefer to have either Jackson or Anthony on the field in front of him at corner.
Brown, Marlon (+3/+6): He’s come from nowhere to secure a roster spot with consecutive outstanding games. Because I see a limited role for JJ as a receiver and the Ravens have limited talent at TE, I think Marlon will see significant playing time both as a #2 receiver and in 4-receiver sets. Gone are the days of hoping Justin Harper would suddenly grow fingers from his cast iron mitts. The Ravens have legitimate rookie talent with Brown and Mellette.
Brown, Omar (+1/+1): He’s an exciting ball hawk whose list from Thursday includes:
- (Q1, 13:38) He stripped Quick (recovered by Elam) as 2nd man in
- (Q1, 10:54) He slowed Austin by the ankle which allowed Elam to close and strip the speedy receiver
- (Q3, 12:04) He had a leaping PD by the right sideline
- (Q4, 3:34) He and Larsen cleaned up Arthur Brown’s initial penetration to take down Reynolds for a loss of 2
Based on defensive play, he’s earned the 4th safety spot over Levine, but Levine has been a significant special-teams contributor. Because the Ravens will apparently carry just 5 CBs to begin the season, I think they’ll need to carry 4 safeties.
Bynes (0/0): DNP. I assume he’ll play versus heavy personnel to start the season, but I do not know the status of his injury.
Clark (-1/-3): Dallas was easily the senior player on the field Thursday. He was targeted 3 times with just a single catch for 4 yards (0 YAC). He lost a reception due to his own inability to box out (Q2, 5:40) and he tipped a ball for a near interception (Q2, 0:42) that was wiped out by roughing the passer. He had a nice kick out block of Sims on Rainey’s 12-yard run left (Q1, 7:46), but he missed several blocks as well. I haven’t seen a reason to keep him at all.
Cody (0/+2): The Ravens lack of blocking tight ends is well known, so I’d expect the Ravens to bring on some big bodies for jumbo formations near the goal line. The best candidates on the current roster are Wagner, Cody, Ngata, and Brandon Williams.
Doss (+2/0): Tandon had catches of 20 and 40 yards on consecutive plays (beginning Q3, 10:40).
Elam (+2/+2): He displayed the ability as a thumper Thursday night and I get the sense he’ll play a lot of snaps at Denver. As a backup SS, his defensive role is limited to:
- 3rd safety in the dime or quarter, which I don’t believe the Ravens will use much due to outstanding coverage linebackers
- 3rd safety in goal-line or short-yardage formations
- Big nickel snaps where he enters as the 3rd safety in 5-DB alignments (this should only happen against running teams)
- A shared role where he and Ihedigbo alternate at SS based on down and distance
If this were the Steelers, I think Elam might see limited action in his first season, but the Ravens have been more aggressive at getting their first-round picks on the field quickly. Despite the rest for Ihedigbo, I believe Elam will see the majority of snaps in Denver.
Furstenburg (-1/-1): He was the target of 2 poorly thrown balls by Hanie (Q4, 1:05 and Q4, 0:26), but tipped them both, the first for a near interception and the second for the game-sealing pick. He threw an un-flagged pick to spring Doss for a 20-yard catch and run (Q3, 10:40).
Gradkowski (0/-1): He won the starting center job with a good game in relief versus Atlanta, but hasn’t played well against starters in 2 opportunities.
Ihedigbo (0/+1): DNP. He hasn’t outplayed Elam, but may have been ticketed to start by Harbaugh.
Jackson (-2/+2): I noted him for 3 negative plays:
- (Q2, 11:02) He bit on an outside move by Bailey and surrendered a 22-yard reception between the numbers and right hash
- (Q2, 1:55) He played soft on the slot receiver Bailey who made a 17-yard catch (12 + 5 YAC) near the right numbers
- (Q3, 6:04) He missed the tackle on Pead which would go for an 11-yard gain (-2 + 13 YAC) near the left sideline
Juszczyk (0/0): The front office is committed to Juice, but I’m not sure they’d feel the same way if all of the rookies were UDFAs. He ran a second successful pattern with a naked boot (Q4, 14:16) for a gain of 18. He also drew a holding flag on Veltung in punt coverage.
McPhee (0/-1): We’ll know shortly how Pees actually plans to rotate his defensive personnel. I’m not expecting Pernell to stay at OLB.
Mellette (+1/+5): He had another solid game. In addition to the 5 catches for 70 yards, he caught a 35-yard toss just out of bounds down the left sideline (Q4, 0:38). He had a nice sideline tiptoe to both get in bounds then pick up an extra yard (Q2, 1:03) and found a hole in the Rams’ zone effectively (Q4, 1:00).
Rainey (+3/+6): He’s won a job with an outstanding preseason. He’ll help the Ravens in some meaningful way this season.
Reid (0/-2): Aside from impressive size, Reid doesn’t have much going for him. He allowed a sack in each of the last 2 games and hasn’t done anything really well except avoid penalties. It would not shock me if he is cut either tomorrow or subsequent to an acquisition.
Shipley (+1/-2): He had a good game as a starter Thursday. Scoring: 22 plays, 20 blocks, 2 misses, 20 points (.91 per play). He made 2 blocks in level 2, registered a pancake, and I have him noted twice for a good pickup of a delayed blitzer.
Simon (0/+3): He missed a tackle on McNeill on what would be a 22-yard catch and run (Q2, 11:40). He drew a hold to negate a 25-yard run (Q2, 9:42).
Smith, Daryl (0/+5): DNP. His play in coverage, combined with that or Arthur Brown, will probably mean the Ravens use primarily nickel this season on passing downs. This team is well equipped to handle the 2-TE offenses in this league.
Smith, Jimmy (0/0): DNP. The alignment is not clear, but I guess he’ll start the season as the outside corner in the nickel and Webb will return to an every-snap role. Versus the Broncos, that means Smith will play the vast majority of snaps.
Spears (0/-2): He’s a difficult case. He had Thursday off despite playing just 9 snaps the entire preseason. I’d be interested to know what contractual options the Ravens have given the log jam on the DL.
Stokely (0/+1): DNP. He’s the slot receiver and his role is not in jeopardy.
Thompson, Deonte (0/-2): DNP. I assume he’ll be put on IR, but the front office may have other plans.
Wagner, Rick (+1/+5): He was the Ravens’ most impressive lineman Thursday and saw time at both LT (8 series) and RT (2 series). He was party to the sack (Q3, 15:00) at RT when he was bulled by his opponent (missed the number), constraining the pocket, as Gaines was beaten by Rivers on the other side. He played well in the first half at LT, so I think we can chalk this up to another case of the Ravens coaching staff ruining a perfectly good tackle by having him change positions.
Williams, Brandon (-1/+2): Both Cody and Williams were active and split time at NT. They were on the field together at times, but Larsen and Tyson had much heavier workloads. In the case of those 2, I think it’s a fairly clear indication the Ravens won’t keep them. Brandon did not have a good game and played 39 defensive snaps per the Gamebook. While he registered a QH (Q1, 6:08), he finished with 0 tackles and was most embarrassingly stood up by Rams’ TE McNeill (Q2, 12:22) who was in motion as the ball was snapped.
Wiliams, LaQuan (0/+1): He played special teams only as the other 3 receivers fought for the open slots. Given their success, I think he is now at risk to be cut.