Editor’s note: Beat writer Aaron Wilson gives his take on what to keep an eye on during the Baltimore Ravens’ preseason game tonight against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field:
1. How will cornerback Fabian Washington fare in his first game back?
Tonight marks the first time Washington will play in a game since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee nine months ago. He was held out of the first preseason game against the Carolina Panthers as a precautionary measure. Washington has looked fluid and fast during practices and is slated to start. He’ll play roughly a quarter. What will be worth observing is how he reacts to receivers’ patterns, how he handles any contact situations and if there’s some hesitancy as he cuts on the natural grass surface. Besides Washington, Chris Carr is coming back from a hamstring injury. It will be interesting to see how the secondary does against new Redskins franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb.
2. Will the offensive line hold together?
The Ravens had a lot of trouble keeping the Panthers away from quarterback Joe Flacco, including left offensive tackle Michael Oher. They allowed six sacks for the game. Right tackle Oniel Cousins could be sidelined tonight due to mild concussion symptoms, including a headache. Tony Moll has been preparing to start, and rookie Ramon Harewood and Joe Reitz could see a lot of playing time as well. Jared Gaither is out indefinitely due to back problems. The Redskins feature a strong pass rush, including the explosive Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter. "They’ve got some first-rate pass rushers, so I’m looking forward to seeing how our guys hold up," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We’ve worked very hard at it, We always do, but this week it’s been an emphasis."
3. What’s going on with the kicking competition?
Billy Cundiff clearly outperformed newcomer Shayne Graham during training camp, but had a rough practice Wednesday with three misses out of five tries. Graham missed a 50-yard field goal against the Panthers last week. Graham is still regarded as the frontrunner, but could lose that status if he doesn’t begin to display some consistency on longer-range field goals. Cundiff didn’t attempt any field goals against Carolina, making two extra points.
4. What’s going on with rookie wide receiver David Reed?
Reed impressed the coaching staff during minicamps, but hasn’t been consistent in camp and has dropped several passes. That has endangered his prospects of making the team. While Reed has faltered, Demetrius Williams has finally displayed that he can stack together a series of good practices. Reed’s kick return ability isn’t so explosive that he’s safe from being let go during the final major roster cutdown. Reed is talented, but he has to produce to convince the coaching staff to hold onto him.
5. Who’s not going to play?
Besides Gaither and Cousins, the following players are either out or questionable tonight: tight end Davon Drew (hamstring), guard-center David Hale (bruised tailbone), guard Daniel Sanders (shoulder), offensive tackle Stefan Rodgers (shoulder), safety Marcus Paschal (quadriceps) and linebacker Tavares Gooden (neck). Despite missing time this week, center Matt Birk (neck), fullback Le’Ron McClain (back), tight end Ed Dickson (groin), linebacker Prescott Burgess (migraine) and wide receiver Mark Clayton (ankle) are expected to play. The following players remain on the physically unable to perform list and are ineligible to play: safety Ed Reed (hip), linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (quadriceps), cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee) and running back Matt Lawrence (knee).