Scouting report vs. Redskins
By Aaron Wilson
LANDOVER -- The Baltimore Ravens have multiple agendas tonight at FedEx Field in their preseason finale against the Washington Redskins.
Here's a look at what the Ravens need to accomplish in their final tuneup before the launch of the regular season Sept. 10 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
1. Get absolutely no one of any importance injured, especially skill players, who are hard to replace. I repeat, don't get hurt, nicked, scuffed, dinged, roughed-up, bashed, banged-up, bruised, ruptured, ripped, shredded, blasted, devastated, concussed or traumatized. I didn't even use a thesaurus. How 'bout 'dem apples?
2. Establish a rhythm with quarterback Steve McNair, avoiding interceptions, penalties, sacks and, in particular, red-zone snafus. It's also time for the former NFL Co-MCP to demonstrate that he can complete a pass over 12 yards. His 36-yard screen pass to running back Musa Smith doesn't count. Throw it deep.
3. Block someone. The offensive line was dominated by the Vikings' front seven. That can't happen again. Jonathan Ogden has to shed the rust and he's running out of time. Simeon Rice is waiting for J.O. in Tampa. I can see the speed rushes coming now.
4. Figure out who the third wide receiver is. Should it be Devard Darling, Demetrius Williams or Clarence Moore? If I had a vote, which I don't, I would say Williams, the rookie from Oregon, has the most upside.
5. Figure out who you're keeping and who you're cutting.
Here's my prediction on the 22 players they will cut by Saturday: QB Drew Olson, WR Romby Bryant, WR Travis Latendresse, RB Cory Ross, TE Rob Abiamiri, TE Bobby Blizzard, G Thatcher Szalay, OT Rob Droege, OT Mike Kracalik, CB Evan Oglesby, CB Derrick Martin, S Robb Butler, CB Duvol Thompson, LB Jim Cottrell, LB Tim Johnson, LB Roderick Green, LB Dennis Haley, DT Nick Leaders, DE Remi Ayodele, LB/DE Ryan LaCasse, P Leo Araguz and K Aaron Elling.
6. Cover the pass closer. The Ravens played right into Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson's hands with soft coverage techniques. Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle are more than capable of playing bump-and-run. Let them do their thing.
7. Get Trevor Pryce untracked. He needs to wake up from his slumber. Run some stunts that require him to move around. They didn't give him a five-year, $25 million contract that includes $10 million in guaranteed money for him to do nothing. Why does a starting defensive end have only two tackles. Furthermore, the light needs to fully click on soon for first-round defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. The team is counting on him to be an anchor in the middle. He needs to start pushing people around.
8. Is middle linebacker Ray Lewis still a true impact player? He's playing well, but it's not the same as his NFL Defensive Player of the Year form. Who will pick up the slack? My hunch is Bart Scott and Adalius Thomas make a lot of tackles this year.
9. Who has epsom salts? Kyle Boller will need them. This is the last time he'll take a beating with Droege and Kracalik blocking for him. These guys are human turnstiles and have nearly gotten him killed during the first three preseason games. You can say a lot of things about Boller and I have, but you can't discount his toughness. This son of a firefighter is gritty, or at least as gritty as a Valley boy from SoCal gets.
10. Rookie running back P.J. Daniels needs a good game tonight to hold off Ross. It's very close in the competition between Ross, a little undrafted back from Nebraska, and Daniels, the fourth-round pick from Georgia Tech.
11. Enjoy the last exhibition game. Real football starts next week.