The Baltimore Ravens face off in their final preseason game for 2014 against the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens will travel to New Orleans Thursday and play at 8 p.m. Baltimore is looking for their fourth win in the preseason.
So far this preseason the Ravens have looked pretty good. Steve Smith has proved to be a good target for Joe Flacco, who had six catches for 80 yards and one touchdown against the Washington Redskins on Saturday. Ray Rice hasn’t seen a lot of action and I see this as a way to prepare for the first two games where Rice won’t be eligible to play. A big concern for the offense is the health of Bernard Pierce. Pierce left the game early on Saturday after having concussion like symptoms. He has not practiced this week and will probably sit out Thursday as a precaution.
The Saints will be Baltimore’s toughest opponent this preseason. The Saints have won all three of their preseason games. The Saints have been solid on both sides of ball all preseason. Generally week four is the game where all the starters don’t play to minimize injuries. I would still expect the back ups to be ready to play and compete well.
The Ravens will probably sit their starters on Thursday. I’ve always liked this idea because it keeps the starters from getting hurt and also gives newer guys the chance to shine and show what they can do. This is especially true for the corner back positions, where the Ravens are really thin. Chykie Brown should have plenty of opportunities to make plays and show that he can be relied on to play well during the regular season.
Resting the starters also gives the coaches room to experiment with other players possibly playing different positions. During Saturday’s game against the Redskins the Ravens coaching staff decided to try out safety Anthony Levine at corner to see what he could do. Levine ended up performing quite well while guarding receiver Desean Jackson.
It’s getting closer to the deadline for making the roster cuts to meet the 53 man mark. The wide receiver position is one where we could see some cuts. Coach John Harbaugh said that the Ravens would keep six receivers. The favorites at the position are Steve Smith Sr, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, and Marlon Brown. This leaves two spots open for competition between Deonte Thompson, Michael Campanaro, Jeremy Butler, Kamar Aiken, and Jace Davis.
Thompson has made a good case to remain on the roster as he’s made touchdown catches in the last two games.
Players that were cut to reach the 75 man roster on Monday include:
CB Deji Olaytoye
T-Brent Van Sloten
Corner back Lardarius Webb (back) hasn’t practiced since July. He should be returning sometime early next week according to John Harbaugh. Corner back Jimmy Smith (bruised chest) should also be back early next week. Safety Matt Elam (leg) left Saturday’s game early and will sit out Thursday’s game as Harbaugh will rest all starters. Asa Jackson (ankle) should be returning next week.
The Ravens placed defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore on the injured reserve, as well as guard Will Rackley, and defensive end Brent Urban.