Football is back!
Even though I will admittedly have one eye squarely on the Birds and Jays tonight as the orange and black pursue the pennant there is still plenty to get excited about with tonight’s exhibition “clash” between brothers.
(Discuss this & Tonight’s game here on the BSL Board.)
- Rick Wagner appears in control of the Right Tackle position for now but the competition isn’t over yet as former third rounder Jah Reid has been moved to provide an alternate option along with Ryan Jensen. I’ve been pulling for Wagner to win the job for a while now and I’ll be interested to see his improved footwork on display.
- Aside from Wagner the whole offensive line will be under the microscope. Can Jeremy Zuttah provide the consistency that Gino Gradkowski could not last year? Is K.O. completely healthy? Was Eugene Monroe worth that big contract? Will anyone be able to say Juan Castillo’s name without following up with the words “fired” or “stinks”? These are the answers fans are looking for. Unfortunately you’ll only get a minor glimpse of the larger picture in about one Quarter’s worth of action tonight.
- The running game that vanished from the Ravens offense a season ago hopefully makes an appearance at M & T this evening. Ray Rice is lighter and appears faster but is he ready for not only a bounce back season but a one filled with scorn and public ridicule from opposing fans? Is Bernard Pierce finally healthy and if so can he shoulder the load (pun intended) while Rice is out two games? In the meantime I’ll be looking closely at Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro as both are sure to get plenty of carries especially late in the game.
- The first four wide receiver spots are locked up but what about numbers five or six? Jeremy Butler, Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro, Deonte Thompson and Laquan Williams all appear to be in the mix. Pay attention in the Second Half and see who takes the opportunity to separate themselves from the pack.
- Gary Kubiak’s offense will unveiled to the public this evening. You wonder how much he’ll show while still trying to work on a few things. Either way please don’t get caught up in the media’s attempt to analyze Joe Flacco’s ten snaps. It’s a whole new scheme and it’s going to take time.
- Dean Pees‘ defense got younger and quicker over the off-season and I really want to see a unit that is aggressive instead of reactionary tonight. The schemes will be basic but they need to contain big plays and get back to creating turnovers.
- Daryl Smith’s minor injury will give Ravens fans a chance to view the inside linebackers of the future in Arthur Brown and C.J. Mosley. It should be fun watching them fly at ballcarriers and hopefully be in proper coverage during passing downs.
- The Nickel corner job appears wide open so be sure to keep tabs on Asa Jackson, Chykie Brown, and Dominique Franks. With Webb out each man will get his chances but Jackson has taken the next spot up so maybe he has the inside track at the moment.
- Terrence Brooks had some struggles adapting to the NFL, many of which weren’t even on the field. He’ll get plenty of reps tonight and I think he’ll be in a better position to contribute by Week Four. Still it’s Darian Stewart’s job and if he can stay healthy he might be able t o stave of Brooks and the suspended Will Hill.
- Anquan Boldin. The former Raven was a huge fan favorite and should receive a huge ovation tonight as the fans will finally have a chance to honor one of their Super Bowl heroes.