Defense Dominates Buffalo photo: Baltimore Ravens

Street Talk Defense Dominates Buffalo

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Some news & notes from the Ravens’ third preseason game against the Buffalo Bills:

— Ravens kicker Justin Tucker had to leave the game with a possible concussion late in the first quarter against the Bills, but he was cleared to return. Tucker had given Baltimore a 3-0 lead earlier in the game and was injured trying to make a tackle on the ensuing kick-off. Tucker is currently the most accurate kicker in NFL history. As a result, he should be running toward the sideline after each kick-off to avoid those types of potential injuries. From the early look of the Ravens offense, Tucker is poised to be a busy player this fall. The Ravens need him on the field, not the IR.

— Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman ran some routes prior to the game with coach Bobby Engram. Perriman has been out since Aug. 1 with a hamstring injury. His mobility is a positive sign that he could be ready for regular season opener Sept. 10 against the Bengals. In his three seasons in Baltimore, Perriman has appeared in only one preseason game. Baltimore needs to him to stretch the field, but he has to prove he can stay healthy.

Michael Campanaro missed practice Wednesday because of a personal matter, but was the primary returner against the Bills. Campanaro showed he is in the driver’s seat to earn the starting job, returning four punts for 43 yards (10.8-yard average). The key for Campanaro is to remain healthy so he can be a daily contributor. Keenan Reynolds looks like he is headed for the practice squad, but has shown enough improvement where he could step in if Campanaro goes down.

— Cornerback Marlon Humphrey, the team’s first-round pick who missed practice this week, also looked fine moving around prior to the game. He moved effortlessly during a backpedaling drill, but he did not play for the second time in three games. These preseason games are valuable for young players like Humphrey. He is heading into the regular season as a mostly unproven player.

— Matt Skura was announced as the starting center but he was actually at left guard. Newly signed Austin Howard started at right tackle. The offensive line was mostly out of sync for most of the game. On one series, Baltimore gave the Bills a short field when center Ryan Jensen sailed a snap past backup quarterback Josh Woodrum, who was then called for intentional grounding. The Ravens defense bailed them out by forcing a punt. Right guard Marshal Yanda made his preseason debut and emerged healthy. Jeremy Zuttah took over at center in the first half and Jensen was moved to left guard. It’s apparent nothing is settled on the offensive line. The return of left tackle Ronnie Stanley looms large for the opener against the Bengals.

— Bills running back LeSean McCoy was supposed to give the Ravens’ run defense its biggest test to date in the preseason. The result? McCoy ran for just seven yards on six carries. Baltimore has an opportunity to do something special on the defense this season. The offense just needs to avoid putting them on short fields with turnovers and penalties.

— Undrafted rookie Jaylen Hill left little question he has spot on the final 53-man roster. He picked up his second interception in three games and set up the Ravens’ first touchdown against Buffalo. It’s the second year in a row the Ravens have found a rookie playmaker at cornerback. Tavon Young played his way into the starting lineup last year. However, he suffered a season-ending knee injury early in training camp. Hill could help fill the void of that loss.

— Punter Sam Koch also earned his money with six punts inside the 20 over the first three quarters. The Ravens special teams have also performed well for much of the preseason.

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe’s Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory.

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