The NFL preseason is a chance for players to prove why they deserve to be a part of the 53-man roster that will be assembled by the coaches come September.
The Ravens have plenty of battles to pay attention to this preseason and we’re going to look at who improved their chances of making the team and who may have inched themselves closer to the chopping block in last night’s 26-13 victory over the Packers.
Take these reports with a grain of salt, as they are immediate reactions from the game. I understand that one preseason game does not determine what these players will, or will not achieve throughout the rest of the preseason.
McSorley showed his ability to use his arm and legs to run the offense. McSorley completed right of 13 pass attempts for 74 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He had a 17-yard run on his stat line as well.
McSorley had a lot of zip on his throws , threading the needle multiple times, including a dart to Chris Moore for a 23-yard touchdown.
McSorley built off of a strong week of training camp, leading the offense to two scoring drives. While he did have an interception, McSorley showed coaches that he has the poise and arm to compete against NFL defenses.
Now of course, McSorley won’t have many opportunities to throw the ball this season, he could see the field and make an impact with his legs. On his only rush attempt on the night, McSorley faked the handoff and rolled out, confusing the defense and opening the entire left side of the field for the aforementioned 17-yard gain.
No matter how the Ravens decide to utilize McSorley’s skill-set, he will be a vital part of the revolutionary offense John Harbaugh and the Ravens have been preaching about during training camp.
Ricard made several plays on both sides of the field against Green Bay. On offense, he recorded two first down runs and set the edge on a Justice Hill touchdown run.
On the opposite side of the ball, Ricard was in the backfield multiple times, shutting down run lanes and allowing for the rest of the Ravens defense to flock towards the ball carrier. He also forced a fumble and recovered it inside the Packers’ 10-yard line.
The fullback position is something rare in today’s NFL. Not many teams want to use up a roster spot on a non-skill position player who is only on the field five to six times a game. It’s fair to say that at the beginning of training camp, Ricard didn’t have a spot on the team. He didn’t offer to much on offense, especially with the possibility of Baltimore holding four running backs and the defensive line depth arguably being the strongest part of the defense. But with his play tonight, Ricard showed why he deserves to be one of the final 53 players.
While it is still true that Baltimore may carry four running backs, Ricard makes each one of them better when he clears the lane ahead. Not only is his run blocking above par, but on passing downs Ricard can serve as a sixth offensive lineman or a tight end out of the backfield, making his number of uses plentiful.
Jones, a second-year linebacker out of UTEP, produced a solid game tonight with the second and third team defenses.
Jones totaled five tackles and a sack on the night. Jones is a smaller name and not on many people’s radars, but with a young Ravens linebacker core and the concussion Chris Board suffered in last night’s action, Jones may have the opportunity to earn more reps.
Jones displayed some speed and ball awareness when defending the run. The Ravens lack of pass rushers is the lone weakness to this defense, so to see a second level linebacker get to the quarterback was a pleasant sight.
On a night where the defense struggled a bit, Jones made some nice plays and may have opened the coaches eyes.
Jones struggled in coverage last night while playing in place of the injured Tavon Young. There were multiple instances where Jones was simply beat off the line and failed to make up the lost ground. After last weeks impressive performance, Jones was hoping to build on that, but unfortunately did the opposite.
It also seems like the returner position is still wide open, but Jones did nothing to separate himself from the rest of the crowd. However, Young’s likely season-ending neck injury could open up the door for Jones to secure a nickel corner position. He will definitely need to up his play if he wants to keep that spot along with a returner role come week one.
To say that he disappointed would not be a fair assessment because of the minor injury Dixon sustained in the first half, but he certainly wasn’t able to help his case.
With a crowded backfield, Dixon was looking to force Baltimore to keep him on the team. When on the field, there is no doubt that Dixon has the ability to make plays. He holds a nice combination of speed and power, while also being able to catch the ball out of the backfield.
However, staying on the field is Dixon’s biggest issue. He has been injury-plagued over his short career. Dixon tallied just 14 yards on six carries and was rarely used after the first quarter.
Dixon has been included in the list of players that could get traded throughout the preseason, and a weak preseason may not create much interest from other teams searching for running backs. Here’s to hoping that Dixon stays healthy and is capable of being part of a possibly dangerous Baltimore offense.
In last week’s victory over the Jaguars, Boykin impressed with his speed and hands, tallying four catches for 39 yards. However, tonight he seemed to be non-existent, not accruing a single reception.
Fans and coaches were hoping to see a strong camp being built on Thursday night, but were ultimately left desiring a lot more from the rookie wideout.
Boykin’s Summer has exceeded the expectations of many. He has very mature presence for a rookie and has used his rare combination of size and speed to his advantage, making multiple contested catches against his teammates during camp. While having high expectations for a rookie wideout is dangerous for fans and coaches, Boykin has led people to believe that he has the ability to be a big-time contributor to this team.
Boykin has the talent to be a great receiver for Baltimore and he will need to show the same level of play he provides in practice during gamedays.
Image Credit: Nick Wass, Associated Press