Last night, the Baltimore Ravens faced off against the Los Angeles Rams in the first week of the NFL preseason. As the Rams opted to hold starters off the field, the Ravens gave the first team offense and defense playtime for the first time this preseason. As expected, it was obvious that many players improved since the Hall of Fame Game against the Chicago Bears last week. The competition is heating up, and many players are starting to make their case to make the final 53 man roster. However, no matter how well everyone plays, it is impossible to keep everyone on the 90 man roster. Here’s how each positional group played against the Rams:
For the first time since 2016, Joe Flacco took to the field in the preseason. Flacco, perennially unhealthy since tearing his ACL in 2015, is finally healthy, and it is extremely obvious. Flacco showed off his abilities last night, as the veteran quarterback completed five of seven passes for 71 yards and one touchdown on his only drive of the night. Flacco was relieved by Lamar Jackson, who worked with the starting offensive line for much of the time he was under center. Jackson initially started out well, completing a deep bomb to Chris Moore, and running in a touchdown. However, Jackson’s night did not live up to the expectations set by that drive. Jackson struggled, later on, launching inaccurate passes high above receivers. Jackson finished the night with seven passes completed out of 18 attempts, for a total of 119 yards through the air. Jackson also ran five times for 21 yards and one touchdown.
Robert Griffin III was the final quarterback to take to the field, and like last week, found success through the air. Griffin completed five of seven passes, for 88 yards, and one touchdown. Griffin also rushed twice but lost a yard on each play. In his performances in training camp and in the preseason so far, Griffin has established himself as a viable backup option behind Joe Flacco. Baltimore may opt to keep three quarterbacks this year, as the team continues to develop Lamar Jackson.
For the second straight week, the running backs group was led by the rookie, Gus Edwards. Edwards showed off his speed and strength by outrunning and plowing through defenders all night. He finished the game after 12 carries for 58 yards, his longest run went for 25 yards. Alex Collins also played for the first time this preseason. He carried the ball twice for 26 yards. Javorius “Buck” Allen took to the field for the first time as well. He carried the ball once for three yards, but showed off his abilities as a receiver out of the backfield, with two catches for 11 yards. Undrafted rookies De’Lance Turner and Mark Thompson improved since their first appearances last week. Thomson ran the ball six times for 14 yards and caught the ball twice for 43 yards. Turner carried four times for 17 yards. Fullback Patrick Ricard got in on the action as well, with a six-yard touchdown reception from Joe Flacco in the opening drive.
Surprisingly, Breshad Perriman was the leader of the wide receivers unit. It was not until late in the game against the Rams, but Perriman did shine. It was encouraging to see Perriman catch three receptions for 71 yards. This included a back of the end zone touchdown grab while being blanketly covered. Perriman was awarded The Baltimore Feather’s Ravens Player of the Game. Chris Moore and undrafted rookie Janarion Grant also got in on the action. Moore caught a 36-yard bomb from Lamar Jackson. Moore was tasked with jumping into coverage to snag the football, and he came down with it. Janarion Grant, although less flashy, caught two passes for 32 yards. The rookie Jaleel Scott, who has been somewhat disappointing so far this year, caught a nine-yard pass as well. Starters Michael Crabtree and John Brown saw their first snaps of the year. Crabtree reeled in a 30-yard pass from Joe Flacco to pick up a crucial first down. John Brown also caught a crucial catch, his went for 17 yards on the catch and run.
The tight ends were not as active against the Rams as they were against the Bears last week. Hayden Hurst and Vince Mayle were the only two tight ends to catch a pass last night. Hurst caught a 12-yard pass, his only catch of the evening. Mayle led the group of two with two receptions. One reception gave the Ravens eight yards, while the other gave the team three. Mayle finished the game with two catches for 11 yards. The performances by the tight ends were slightly disappointing, but the group has plenty of time to develop throughout the rest of the preseason.
The offensive line played well against the Rams defensive line. Although star players Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh sat out the game, the line’s efforts cannot be discounted. The starting offensive line, minus Marshal Yanda, played with both quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson. The line allowed three sacks in the game. Two came from Rams defensive tackle Ethan Westbrooks, and the other came from linebacker Ejuan Price. Overall, it was a decent night for the offensive line as a whole.
The starting defensive line played very well, as the unit bottled up the Rams rushing attack with relative ease. Over the course of the night, the line continued to dominate but fell short on some crucial plays. Running back John Kelly, who was performing mediocrely, broke out of the backfield for a 40 yard gain. Justin Davis also found occasional success against the Ravens defensive line. He rushed seven times for 41 yards. His longest gain of the night was 17 yards. Defensive ends Bronson Kaufusi, and Zach Sieler stood out along the line. Kaufusi created a huge tackle for loss play, and Sieler stood well on the defensive line. He also recorded a sack. Patrick Ricard also performed admirably along the defensive line. He recorded one solo tackle and three assists.
Last week, outside linebacker Kamalei Correa, led the linebackers unit to glory. This week, he slowed down with only one tackle, but other players were able to pick up the slack. Tim Williams took down the quarterback for a forced fumble strip sack. He recorded five total tackles on the night. Starting outside linemen Matt Judon and Terrell Suggs also found the quarterback. Each recorded a sack before being pulled from the game. On the inside, linebackers Kenny Young and Patrick Onwuasor continued their battle for the starting position alongside C.J. Mosley. Again, neither stood out compared to the other. John Harbaugh will likely try to get both of these players playtime in the regular season.
The defensive backs in the secondary played very well throughout the night. Tavon Young and Jimmy Smith made their reappearances since being injured. Maurice Canady recorded the only interception on the night. He leaped up to grab a Sean Mannion pass. Mannion was held to just 16 yards on three completions out of 16 attempts. The Rams did not see any production through the air until Brandon Allen took over. The third-year quarterback connected on 10 of 15 passes for 73 yards and one touchdown.
The starters in the wolfpack, kicker Justin Tucker, and punter Sam Koch played in the first quarter of last night’s game. Both were relieved by Kaare Vedvik, who is attempting to land a roster spot on another team by the end of the offseason. Tucker knocked down two field goals and two extra points. Tucker also missed a field goal, a rarity for him. The Ravens gave him a shot at a 60-yard field goal, which fell just inches short of being converted. Koch punted just once in the game. His punt went for 44 yards. After Vedvik replaced both, he converted two of three field goals, only missing on a 53-yard attempt. Vedvik also put an extra point through the uprights. In the punts department, Vedvik kicked three times, for an average of 32.7 yards.
Chris Moore started the night as the kick returner but opted to call for a fair catch on the only opportunity he got of the night. Janarion Grant replaced him on the ensuing kick. Grant is currently competing with Tim White, who remained off the field with an undisclosed injury. Grant returned one kickoff for 26 yards, and two punts as well.