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Ravens vs. Eagles: What to watch for

It all starts tonight when the Ravens take on the Philadelphia Eagles in their first preseason game.

The Eagles have been making headlines all month long, signing Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith, and trading for Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie. Clearly the Eagles have put themselves in Super Bowl contention; they may even be the favorites at this point, so the Ravens will have a great opportunity to see where they stack up right away this preseason.

Granted it is only preseason and only the first game so neither team will probably have their starters play too much but for the Ravens that’s what they have to look at.

The Ravens have a lot of inexperienced players on their team. We all know what Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs, among others, can do but we don’t know what guys a lot of players that will have to step up this season can do.

How will Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta fair as the team’s top tight ends? How will Jah Reid fair against and elite pass rusher like Babin? What can we expect from all of the young wide receivers? The questions go on and on and the Ravens have four games to figure out whether or not they’re a Super Bowl caliber team.

This first game will help answer a lot of questions and here is what you should be watching for:

Torrey Smith will be one of the many young receivers that the Ravens will need to step into a big role this season.

What the Ravens have at wide receiver

We generally know exactly what Anquan Boldin can do but we don’t know what anybody else can do. Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, Marcus Smith, James Hardy, David Reed, and Brandon Jones are all player with little to no experience but some of them will have to step up into major roles for the Ravens offense. Who will be able to?

Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta at tight end

The decision to release Todd Heap can only be judged by the performance by these two. If they play incredibly well this season then it will seem like a great move but if they struggle then there will be some outrage. There is little to show what these two guys can do, they only combined for 12 receptions last season, Pitta had only one. Cam Cameron’s offense relies on tight ends to be a very important part of the passing game so we should see pretty early what they’re capable of.

If Jah Reid is up to the task

Going into a season with a third-round rookie as your starting right tackle has the makings of a disaster but word has it that he’s been playing very well in training camp. We’ll find out right away if he’s capable of holding up when he goes up against a ferocious pass rusher like Jason Babin all night.

What they have at center

Matt Birk won’t be playing tonight, meaning Bryan Mattison, Ryan Bartholomew, and Tim Barnes will be splitting the snaps at center. Depending how serious Birk’s injury is one of those guys may have to start the season so going up against Cullen Jenkins right at the first snap will let them know if they have to go out and get another veteran center to hold the position over.

Offensive line depth

Right now the o-line’s second unit is Brady Bond, Colin Madison, Ryan Bartholomew, Justin Boren, and Oneil Cousins. Three of those guys are undrafted rookies and another hasn’t played a single down in the NFL. If there is an injury on the offensive line this season the Ravens could be in trouble but this is where those guys get to step up and show what they are capable of.

Tyrod Taylor is a very special talent but is he capable of winning a stretch of games as a rookie if he has to?

Tyrod Taylor

In order to be successful in anything you have to plan for the worst case scenario. In football a team has to have a capable backup quarterback because it’s always a horrible situation when the starter goes down and somebody who isn’t capable of winning games has to come in for them. Right now Tyrod Taylor should have an easy task beating out Hunter Cantwell for the job behind Joe Flacco. Taylor is definitely a special talent but as a rookie, especially one selected in the sixth round of the draft, it isn’t known whether or not he can step in and get the Ravens a couple wins if he has to.

How much progress Arthur Jones has made

Arthur Jones is the perfect example of how team love to bring rookies up. He barely played at all last season but this season he’s been practicing with the first-team defense. Jones definitely has a lot of ability and he, along with Terrance Cody, were both big reasons why the Ravens felt confident in the decision to release Kelly Gregg.

Can Sergio Kindle still play

All reports are saying that he can still play after having to miss all of last season with a fractured skull. But an actual game is a completely different animal than camp. If Kindle can still play at a high level he should really help the Ravens pass rush out.

Position Battles in the secondary

Domonique Foxworth, Lardarius Webb, Chris Carr, and first-round draft pick Jimmy Smith will all be competing for the starting cornerback positions. Needless to say the Ravens are in a much better place at cornerback than they were last season. All of those guys have the capability of starting, it’s just a matter of who goes out and shows it right away. Another battle to watch out for is the position battle between Bernard Pollard and Tom Zbikowski for the starting strong safety spot. Zbikowski might be a better free safety but he proved last year that he could hold is own wherever he was and he’ll have done stiff competition with the team’s free agent addition all preseason.

Which undrafted rookie is going to shine

The Ravens always seem to hit on an undrafted player and they have plenty on their roster right now. So now it is always interesting to see which guy will step up and make the team.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.
One Response to “Ravens vs. Eagles: What to watch for”
  1. business says:

    The offseason has been filled with courtappeals instead of free-agentoffers but Im stillexcited for the upcoming season as the Ravens had what many considered to be anothertop-notch draft. General manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens scouting department filled needs and found players that have the ability to make an immediate impact. Although the Ravens selected cornerback Jimmy Smith with their first-round pick threeregular contributors at the position arefree agents of some sorts.