The Ravens open the home portion of their preseason schedule Thursday night against the Rams. Coach John Harbaugh said he is treating it like the first game even though the Ravens already played in the Hall of Fame game. Here are five things to watch:
1. First live action for Flacco
Joe Flacco could see his first action and will likely play a series or two. It will be beneficial for Flacco to take some shots downfield with the overhauled offense. He already has a solid rapport with receiver Michael Crabtree, who will have an interesting matchup against Rams cornerback Aqib Talib. The two got into an altercation last season, but did not have any issues over the two-day joint practice.
2. Secondary Deep & Talented
At safety, Tony Jefferson has missed the past several days of practice, and Chuck Clark has shined in his absence. He could start next to Eric Weddle. Also keep an eye on Rookie DeShon Elliott, who could be an enforcer throughout camp.
3. LJ at M&T
The much-anticipated home debut of Lamar Jackson is finally here. The Ravens are expecting a large crowd, by that, I mean actual people in the seats, to watch the electrifying rookie. The key for Jackson is to leave the game fully healthy, rather than get injured trying to put on a show.
4. Rookie Tight End Duo
The rookie duo of Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews will also see some action. The Ravens have run several plays during camp with a two-tight end set. Hurst has been dominant. Andrews has also looked impressive, but has struggled with a soft-tissue injury.
Nonetheless, this duo will create matchup problems when they are both on the field.
5. Pass Rush
The Ravens want to develop a more effective pass rush. The onus is on second-year players Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams to take the next step in their development. Both have missed some practice time so it’s unclear how much they will play. Za’Darius Smith and Matt Judon both have made strides with their pass-rushing skills. Kamalei Correa had his best game as a pro against the Bears and needs to build off that performance.