A few weeks ago, I posed some questions that I think the general population of Ravens fans would be looking to have answered. For the ones that still remain unanswered, tonight’s third preseason game where the first team will see the bulk of the action, should answer some of these questions still looming.
Discuss your opinion on these topics on our message board.
1. Can Matt Elam and Arthur Brown run with the first team?
It appears that John Harbaugh has named Josh Bynes the starter on the weak side, next to Daryl Smith. Arthur Brown will be his back up, but should probably still see a decent amount of playing time. Dean Pees alluded to the strong safety battle between Matt Elam and James Ihedigbo coming down to their play tonight. But can they run with the first team? Probably could. Just because they may not start the game on week 1 shouldn’t be a knock on the rookies, rather a reason to praise Bynes and Ihedigbo for their hard work to get to that position on top the chart.
2. Is Jimmy Smith capable of being the #2 CB?
Smith hasn’t impressed us yet. Then again, Julio Jones is going to make a lot of defensive backs look foolish this year. Also, if you check out Dan Bryden’s piece, the Jones TD last week can’t be pinned completely on Jimmy Smith’s coverage. Hopefully we get to see Lardarius Webb in his first action tonight, and he’ll likely be covering the veteran, Steve Smith. We’ll see is Smith can handle a lower profile WR opposite him, or if they put Jimmy on Steve to challenge him.
3. How will the Ravens use Kyle Juszczyk?
Special teams, back up FB, and have seen reports of him split out as a receiver at all positions. Wide, slot, TE. Jack of all trades Juszczyk seems to be.
4. Can James Ihedigbo and Josh Bynes run with the first team?
See Question 1.
5. Will any receivers step up and make a statement?
Some have, but not the ones we thought or were really looking forward to. Stock is up on Aaron Mellette, Marlon Brown, and Laquan Williams. Stock is down on Deonte Thompson, Tandon Doss, and Tommy Streeter. David Reed was traded, which might let you know where he stood on the depth chart. Receivers have been less than stellar to the point where they felt 37-year old Brandon Stokley was a better option in the slot than anyone else on the squad.
6. Is the O-Line still a solid unit?
Marshall Yanda should return for his first action tonight, so we’ll see the offensive line in it’s entirety with Gino Gradkowski starting. Word is Yanda and Osemele is the best guard tandem in football. The line of McKinnie, Osemele, Gradkowski, Yanda, Oher, should see as much game action as the rest of the first team, hopefully about three quarters. Conditioning for one reason. We’ll see how effective they are in the run game, and keeping Joe Flacco upright.