The Baltimore Ravens will look to move to 3-0 on the preseason as they take on the Indianapolis Colts Monday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Ravens arrived in Indianapolis and took to the field in two joint practices with the Colts on Friday and Saturday in preparation for the game. After a relatively quiet first session, tempers flared in the second of the joint practices.
Cooler heads would prevail and the two teams are set to take the field for real on the national stage of ESPN’S Monday Night Football. Here are three things to watch for ahead of preseason game number three for the Ravens.
1) Which bubble players flash for the Ravens?
The Ravens have quite a few bubble players at the moment that are desperate to put together a quality outing to convince the coaching staff that they are worth a spot on the 53-man roster. It starts with wide receiver Breshad Perriman.
Perriman, who had a rough outing in the Hall of Fame game, bounced back nicely in preseason game number two against the Los Angeles Rams, notching three receptions including a 32-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Robert Griffin III. But as Ravens Coach John Harbaugh has stated all preseason, bubble guys like Perriman have to “stack games”.
It’s a crowded receivers room for the Ravens right now as Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, John Brown, and Chris Moore appear to be the only locks to make the team. Perriman will be in competition with leading returner candidate Tim White, rookie draft picks Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott, and undrafted rookie Janarion Grant for the final spots.
On the other side of the ball, I am looking to see if 2016 third-round pick Bronson Kaufusi can show a pulse. The third-year defensive end has yet to flash for the Ravens and is running out of chances to find his way onto this team. Outside of a fumble recovery in the Hall of Fame game Kaufusi has just two tackles in the preseason. The clock is ticking on Kaufusi’s tenure in Baltimore and he needs a big performance on Monday night.
Fellow 2016 draft pick Kamalei Correa has flashed, but it will be pivotal for Correa to stack a second game to his preseason resume as well. In the Hall of Fame game, Correa stole the show with six tackles including three sacks and an interception but he failed to back up that performance recording just one tackle against the Rams.
2) The battle for the backup quarterback role
Two men will enter and only one will win!
Griffin III appears to have the inside track on the backup QB job in Baltimore. Griffin has been solid this preseason in his comeback attempt after sitting out all of last season. Griffin III is 12-for-18 with two touchdowns and one interception which came on yet another Perriman drop. The Ravens rarely carry three quarterbacks, but Griffin III is making the decision extremely difficult for John Harbaugh and the rest of the Ravens coaching staff.
Lamar Jackson will obviously make the roster but it remains to be seen in what capacity we will see him this season. The rookie first-round pick’s preseason has been uneven at best so far. He is only 11-for-28 with one touchdown and one interception. He did flash the athletic ability he is known for on a nine-yard touchdown run against the Rams. The Ravens will be looking for continued improvement from Jackson on Monday night.
In a season where the coaching staff’s jobs very well might be on the line, are John Harbaugh and company ready to turn the keys over to the unproven rookie if starting quarterback Joe Flacco goes down?
To be continued.
3) Who starts at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley?
This is the most hotly-contested battle of the preseason and the next chapter of this story will be written on Monday night in Indianapolis.
Incumbent starter Patrick “Peanut” Onwuasor figured to be the guy prior to off-season workouts and heading into the preseason. While he struggled at times last season, Onwuasor performed admirably next to Mosley recording 88 tackles, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Onwuasor may still have the lead in the race for the starting job but fourth-round pick Kenny Young is closing rapidly.
Young has impressed the coaching staff throughout the offseason and preseason and could take the job from Peanut. The UCLA product has first-year defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale feeling non-committal on who the favorite is to win the starting job but he feels it is a good problem to have.
It will be interesting to see if either player will separate themselves in Indianapolis on Monday night.
- When: Monday, August 20, 8:00pm
- Where: Lucas Oil Stadium Indianapolis, IN
- Radio: 98 Rock/WBAL 1090 AM
- TV: ESPN/WBAL TV
- Commentary: ESPN- Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland, and Lisa Salters. WBAL TV- Gerry Sandusky, Brian Billick, Evan Washburn
Image Credit: USA Today