The Baltimore Ravens are again, so far, undefeated in the preseason. The Ravens defeated the Chicago Bears in the Hall of Fame Game, and the Los Angeles Rams last week in Baltimore. Now, the Ravens head into Indianapolis to take on the Colts and improve to a three win, zero loss record. The Colts are coming into this game following a victory over the Seahawks in Seattle. Indianapolis fans rejoiced at the sight of quarterback Andrew Luck taking the field for the first time since 2016. Luck dealt with a shoulder injury for all of 2017, which kept him from playing any football for more than a year. Now, the franchise quarterback has returned and is ready to face off against a familiar foe, the Baltimore Ravens. Below are five points to keep in mind while watching the Ravens and Colts preseason game.
Ravens Defense v.s. Andrew Luck
The Ravens defense has a unique test to take this Monday night against the Colts. Andrew Luck is entering only his second game since leaving the field in 2016. The Colts showed last week against the Seahawks that the team will not hold Andrew Luck back. Luck will pass early and often, even though he is coming off of a shoulder injury. Despite the injury, Luck is still a prolific passer. He will challenge the Ravens defense, as the best quarterback, the unit has seen so far this preseason. Luck also has the ability to take off and run should he need to.
Joe Flacco Round Two
Joe Flacco and the Ravens starting offense is now heading into the second preseason game where the group sees action. The starting offense put together a beautiful drive against the Rams, capped off with a Flacco touchdown pass to Patrick Ricard. While the drive was impressive, some dismissed it, because the Rams kept the starters on the bench. The Ravens offense will now get a chance to face off against a real defense, as the Colts are expected to play the starting defense. This will be the first major test for the much improved Baltimore offense. It is imperative that the unit can produce against a higher caliber of defense, rather than a bunch of second teamers.
The story of the preseason this year is the two Rutgers men, wide receiver/kick returner, Janarion Grant, and running back, Gus Edwards. Both of the former Scarlet Knights landed on the Ravens as undrafted free agents. Since day one, both Grant and Edwards have impressed coaches, and continue to impress. Grant and Edwards, so far, are the best rookie undrafted free agents on the Ravens roster. Most teams would see these players as a footnote, but the Baltimore Ravens have a tendency to find undrafted rookies that can make the roster. Coincidently, both of these players are in positional groups that may see a change. Grant is a return specialist and the departure of Michael Campanaro opens the door for a new starter to emerge. Grant is in competition with Tim White, but White missed all of last season with a thumb injury, and part of the preseason so far with another injury.
Edwards also has a chance to make the roster. The Ravens will likely keep just three running backs, and the top two spots are uncontestable. Alex Collins and Javorius Allen are the undisputed one-two punch of the Ravens rushing attack. Kenneth Dixon is currently the third-string running back on the team. However, Dixon has a history of injuries and has missed more than half of the games in his career. Dixon also suffered two injuries this offseason. This has occurred as Gus Edwards has continued to produce on the field. Edwards has to lead the Ravens rushing attack this preseason and shows no signs of slowing down. Both of these players, against Indianapolis, must continue the pattern of success from earlier this season.
Breshad Perriman’s career in Baltimore has been a disappointment. The first round wide receiver was drafted in 2015 and assumed to be the heir of Torrey Smith. Although Perriman displayed an inability to reliably catch passes in college, his elite speed was seen as a trait that could not be passed up. Perriman missed his entire rookie season with an MCL injury. Then, almost predictably, his return to the field was marred with missed opportunities and dropped passes. After three years on the Ravens, Perriman now finds himself in a predicament. His fifth-year option was declined and is now on the roster bubble. The key to staying on the Ravens roster for Periman is to have an outstanding preseason. Against the Rams, Perriman showed up for three catches that gained 71 yards and scored one touchdown. It is crucial for Perriman that he shines against the Colts, as he must prove that his inconsistent days are behind him.
Maurice Canady is a player that the Baltimore Ravens saw potential in when the team drafted him in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Each year with the Ravens, Canady has climbed the ladder on defense. Despite his continually better level of play, Canady is now on the roster bubble, as the Ravens have immense depth at cornerback. Canady is attempting to solidify his role in the Ravens secondary. Last week, he came down with an impressive interception and return. While that highlight is what stands out, Canady had a quietly successful game throughout all the time he was on the field. Canady covered receivers well and showed he can go toe-to-toe against other offenses. His next test will be against the Colts, where he will need to continue the pattern of success to increase his odds of making the final roster.
The Baltimore Ravens will play well against the Indianapolis Colts, defeating the team 20-7. Joe Flacco and the starting offense will put seven points on the board on the first drive, capped off by an Alex Collins touchdown run. Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III will each throw for one touchdown, but Lamar Jackson will toss two interceptions. Jordan Lasley and Janarion Grant will each catch a touchdown. Gus Edwards will again lead the team in rushing. On defense, the Ravens will hold Andrew Luck and the Colts offense back from scoring. Tony Jefferson will intercept a pass from Luck. Kamalei Correa and Za’Darius Smith will each record one sack, and Maurice Canady will intercept a ball from Jacoby Brissett. Brissett will throw for the Colts only touchdown on the night, to receiver KJ Brent.
FINAL: 20-7 Ravens over Colts