Three things to watch for as the Ravens take on the Rams Thursday night

The Baltimore Ravens will take on the Los Angeles Rams Thursday evening at M&T Stadium in their week one preseason matchup.

The Ravens look to build off of their preseason-opening 17-16 victory over the Chicago Bears in the Hall of Fame game last week in Canton Ohio.

Here are three things watch for during Thursday night’s contest.

1) Who plays and for how long? 

According to ESPN‘s Jamison Hensley, Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco said that he expects to play in Thursday’s game. If Flacco does play, could this mean the debuts of the revamped starting receiving corps of Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown?

If any of these guys see the field on Thursday night it is unknown how long they will play. Traditionally Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has had his starters play a series or two in the first preseason game. It would mark the first preseason action for Flacco since Aug. 27, 2016 versus Detroit as he missed all of last year’s games with a herniated disk in his back.

What impact will Flacco’s apperarance have on the playing time of the other Ravens quarterbacks? Robert Griffin III performed well in the preseason opener while Lamar Jackson struggled and looked like a quarterback who needs as many reps as he can get this preseason.

It will also be intriguing to see if veteran defensive stalwarts Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle see the field Thursday night. Suggs is entering his 16th season and has looked great in camp this summer. Weddle is entering his 12th season but you wouldn’t know it from this clip after joint practice with the Rams on Monday as he seems as charged up as ever.

2) Who keeps their momentum going and who bounces back?

The toast of the town late last week was Ravens third-year linebacker Kamalei Correa. Correa was a beast against the Bears, finishing with six tackles, three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. His effort earned him some praise from Harbaugh.

Going into the contest, I was anxious to see what impact new defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale would have on the defense and Correa’s big night was a product of returning to outside linebacker, his natural position. It will be interesting to see if Correa can provide another big night and continue to remove himself from the roster bubble.

Looking to bounce back for the Ravens would be wide receiver Breshad Perriman. The trials and tribulations of Perriman have been well documented and on the Ravens first possession last Thursday night, Perriman provided another moment to his list.

This interception led Gordon McGuiness of Pro Football Focus to take still frames of two plays from Perriman’s last two games against the Bears.

Perriman finished the night with two catches for 19 yards and has quite a mountain to climb to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

3) Offensive Line play

Ravens quarterbacks were sacked eight times last Thursday night. Six of the eight sacks were endured by mobile quarterbacks Griffin and Jackson.  This is an alarming trend considering both players move significantly better in getting away from pressure than Flacco does.

Orlando Brown Jr led the group in total snaps and performed satisfactorily in his first taste of NFL action.  It’s worth noting that the remaining leaders in offensive linemen snaps (Jermaine Eluemunor, Bradley Bozeman, Maurquice Shakir, and Randin Crecelius) are not anticipated to be starters for the Ravens but it leaves the offensive line’s depth in doubt.

Given Alex Lewis and Marshal Yanda’s injury history, this is a definite area of improvement for the Ravens this Thursday night. Lewis returned to practice on July 28 after sitting out a few sessions with a nagging ankle injury. He missed all of last season with a shoulder injury.

Yanda came off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list on Monday and returned to practice on a limited basis. This is a great sign for the Ravens as he is working his way back from a fractured ankle he suffered in week two last season. He also suffered a partially-torn rotator cuff while lifting weights in December and underwent a procedure to fix it up. The shoulder injury is actually what’s held Yanda out to this point. He is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.

The Details:

Image Credit: Baltimore Ravens

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11: Ravens HOF weekend recap & a look at the new NFL helmet rules

Welcome to Episode 11 of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell, editor Nolan McGraw, and author Ian Schultz.

This week the podcast is heavily focused on the Ravens as they come off of an eventful weekend. The guys don’t waste any time diving right into Ray Lewis and his Hall Of Fame speech (5:00). After that the conversation switches over the Ravens 17-16 win over the Bears in the HOF game (15:25). Jake, Nolan, and Ian all give their opinion on which players they think are trending up and trending down after the first preseason game.

Before turning their attention to this coming week’s matchup with the Rams, the guys spend some time dissecting the new NFL rules involving helmet hits (34:38). The issue has made headlines everywhere since Thursday and the Charm City Bird Watch crew is eager to give their takes as well.

The Ravens discussion concludes with a look ahead to the second preseason game. The Ravens and Rams will practice together this week in Owings Mills before meeting at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday night (42:45)

The podcast concludes with some brief Orioles talk (50:23). The excitement of the trade deadline has passed and now we are left with an even more incomplete team. However, there are a handful of new Orioles that have made their debut in black and orange this past week. The weekly numbers segment is pushed back to the end of this weeks podcast, where you can hear some memories of former players like Robert Andino and Kamar Aiken (55:50).

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes. Please leave us a review, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode. Thank you for listening!

Three things to watch for as the Baltimore Ravens preseason begins

The Baltimore Ravens will head to Canton Ohio to kick off their 2018 preseason schedule against the Chicago Bears in the NFL Hall of Fame Game on Thursday night.

It will mark the first time the Ravens take the field since their heartbreaking 31-27 season-ending defeat against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on December 31, 2017. That loss landed Baltimore out of the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

With most of the starters not expected to play on Thursday, here are three things I am watching for as the Ravens start their 2018 campaign.

1. Lamar Jackson

The buzz around Baltimore has been significant surrounding Lamar Jackson ever since the Ravens traded back into the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to select the 2016 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback out of Louisville 32nd overall.

Jackson’s accolades and statistics in the collegiate ranks are unprecedented. To go along with his Heisman Trophy, Jackson was the 2016 and 2017 ACC Player of the Year. He was also a unanimous first team All-American in 2016. In Jackson’s final two years at Louisville he amassed 10,375 total yards and 96 total TD’S.

So what does all of this mean at the next level? Absolutely nothing. The learning curve for Jackson begins for real this Thursday night and I cannot wait to see how the “future” of the quarterback position in Baltimore looks in his first test as an NFL quarterback. It will be interesting to see who starts the game, but it is expected that both Jackson and Robert Griffin III will receive significant playing time.

Jackson channeled his inner Bart Scott when asked about his debut:

2. Wide receiver corps

While nothing has been announced as of yet, it is unlikely that the Ravens new look receiving corps of Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown will see much action in Thursday’s opener.

That means the spotlight will be on Chris Moore, Breshad Perriman, and rookies Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley as they look to establish themselves as contributing members of what has recently been a very disappointing position group of late for the Ravens.

Moore has the inside track to be the number four receiver and is looking to improve upon his numbers from last season (18 catches 248 yards and 3 touchdowns). Moore is entering his third season in Baltimore out of the University of Cincinnati and Thursday could prove a key moment for him as he looks to gain a stranglehold on that fourth receiver spot.

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Breshad Perriman is fighting for a roster spot. Image Credit: Sporting News

The much maligned Perriman is entering his fourth season with the Ravens. The first- round draft pick in 2015 missed his entire rookie season with injuries and has struggled in his two seasons since, tallying just 43 catches and three touchdowns. After the Ravens picked up his roster bonus, he is now battling to make the week one roster. This could be Perriman’s last chance is Baltimore and a good showing on Thursday night could relieve some of the pressure he is sure to be feeling.

Scott and Lasley appear poised for significant reps at receiver in the preseason opener as well. Scott, a fourth-round pick out of New Mexico State has struggled out of the gate at training camp. Lasley was drafted in the fifth round out of UCLA and has been the more impressive of the two in training camp so far. Look for both to be featured prominently in the Ravens offense on Thursday night.

3. New Defensive Coordinator

While the 2017 Baltimore Ravens defense finished sixth in the NFL in points-per-game allowed (18.9), many Ravens fans, myself included, were excited when Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees retired one day after the 2017 season ended.

Often times Pees would sink into a “prevent” style defense when the team had the lead late in games.  This was a contributing factor in the Ravens inability to hold on to a 38-29 lead in the fourth quarter of what became an AFC North division clinching loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh.

Enter Don “Wink” Martindale who was promoted to Defensive Coordinator this off-season. Martindale struggled in his only prior stint as an NFL defensive coordinator when he guided the Denver Broncos to a last place finish in total defense.  That hasn’t stopped many Ravens including Tony Jefferson from raving about him this offseason:

While it is just the first preseason game, the excitement around town is noticeable. Amid the Orioles fire sale, the Ravens will look to provide a welcomed distraction for Charm City as they get their 2018 campaign underway on Thursday night.

Image Credit: Associated Press

Ravens to play Bears in 2018 NFL Hall of Fame Game

On Tuesday morning, the NFL announced that the Baltimore Ravens will participate in the 2018 Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, Aug. 2 from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium from Canton, Ohio.

The Ravens will play against the Chicago Bears, two days before legendary linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Every year, the Hall of Fame Game kicks off the NFL’s preseason slate. This marks the Ravens’ first appearance in the Hall of Fame Game. The Bears have made four appearances, the most recent being in 2005 against the Miami Dolphins.

Along with competing in the Hall of Fame Game, the Ravens and Bears will still play four normally-scheduled preseason season games along with the rest of the NFL. With that said, should we see any starters play in this game, it won’t be for long.

Ticket packages for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement week are already on sale at hofexperiences.com, or by calling 844-751-0532. Individual tickets for the Hall of Fame Game and Enshrinement Ceremony go on sale on Friday, Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. ET at profootballhof.com/tickets.

Image Credit: Dawgs by Nature

Podcast: Nolan and Jake talk about the future of the Ravens following brutal loss to Bears

Welcome to the latest episode of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast! On tonight’s episode, Nolan McGraw and Jake McDonnell recap what was a brutal loss for the Baltimore Ravens; a 27-24 overtime defeat to the Chicago Bears.

Whether it was the turnovers, a lack of explosion/urgency on offense, or poor run defense, the Bears were the better team on Sunday. What went wrong? After such an inspiring performance on the road last week against the Raiders, why did the Ravens fall flat? The guys give their input.

There is plenty of blame to go around for the Ravens’ shaky 3-3 start, but who deserves most of the blame? Is it Joe Flacco? John Harbaugh and the coaching staff? Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens’ brass? Hear what Jake and Nolan think.

Sunday marked another example of an attendance problem at M&T Bank Stadium. What is causing the increased amount of empty chairs? Is there a solution to get more butts in seats?

Three of the Ravens’ next four games take place on the road, but the opponents are not forbidding. Can the Ravens turn things around, or will they continue their downward spiral? All of this and more on tonight’s episode.

As always, subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud. Leave us a 5-star review on iTunes; we may read it on a future episode! Thanks for listening!

Ravens force overtime but fall short of visiting Bears 27-24

BALTIMORE — The Ravens got off to a slow start against the Bears and had to claw their way back into the game with some late game heroics. However, with the game on the line in overtime, neither the defense of offense showed up and the Bears escaped with a 27-24 victory.

The first half was pretty slow for both teams. The Bears went into the half with a 10-3 lead but weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders. A freak interception that bounced off of Breshad Perriman‘s hands set Chicago up with great field position. They would use that to score their first touchdown of the afternoon but that was their lone highlight in the half.

In the second half the Bears added to their lead with another touchdown. Down 17-3, the Ravens looked hopeless but they somehow managed to swing the momentum in their favor while coming back and forcing overtime.

Bobby Rainey started the comeback effort by bringing the disappointed home crowd back to their feet with a 96-yard kickoff return. The play looked to be dead when Rainey ran into one of his own blockers, but he had the awareness to get up and keep going when the refs didn’t whistle the play over.

Justin Tucker inched his team closer when he nailed his second field goal of the afternoon in the fourth quarter. With Baltimore back in the game and down by just one possession, Joe Flacco led the offense down the field into the red zone. Unfortunately, Baltimore’s wideouts let Flacco down. again.

Chris Moore let a bullet pass bounce off his chest and fall into the hands of Chicago’s Adrian Amos. The Bears’ safety then turned on the jets and raced 90 yards down field for what seamed like a game-ending touchdown.

Flacco and the offense were left with about five minuets to make something happen. To their credit, they managed to put together a quick scoring drive. The two-minute drive was capped off by a 50-yard field goal to make it a one score game once again. The defense picked up on the momentum of the score and forced the Bears into a three-and-out on their next possession.

With under two minutes to play, Michael Campanaro returned a punt 77 yards down the Ravens sideline for a touchdown. Flacco followed up the impressive return with a successful two-point conversion pass to Nick Boyle. All of the sudden, the game was tied.

With a chance to put the game away in overtime, the Ravens offense proved to be even more unreliable. A third-and-two situation should be an easy pick up, but the Ravens embarrassed themselves with a questionable play call, bringing up fourth down.

After letting the Ravens back into the game, Chicago was determined to finally put the game away. Backed up deep in Ravens territory, Mitchell Trubisky handed the ball off to Jordan Howard, who bounced to the outside. Howard was quickly met by a cluster of defenders, including Eric Weddle, but managed to slip out of their reach and race down the visiting sideline for a 53-yard gain.

Weddle had his arms wrapped around Howard, but somehow couldn’t come up with a tackle. The play took away whatever energy remained in the stadium and the Bears didn’t hesitate to move their way into field goal range and put the game away.

There is a lot of blame to go around after this loss. Up until that final drive, the defense had played a relatively clean game but they still deserve a decent share of the blame. As far as the offense goes, Flacco was not the problem for once. Both picks should have been caught by the intended receiver and Maxx Williams should have never coughed up the ball in the red zone.

Moving past a tough loss is not new to this Ravens team, but at what point do the massive swarm of injuries become too much? Brandon Williams‘ presence was missed once again on Sunday, but Jeremy Maclin being out was probably the biggest loss. Moore and Campanaro can not be relied on to make big plays and they proved that with some ugly drops.

The Ravens will hit the road next week to take on the Vikings. Minnesota is coming off a big win against the Green Bay Packers and now finds themselves on top of their division. Baltimore, on the other hand, is going to need another impressive road performance if they want to keep pace in the AFC North.

Image Credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images

PREVIEW: Ravens Duke It Out With Da Bears

BALTIMORE – The recently jump-started Baltimore offense hits the field to see if they can find consistency for the second straight week when they take on the Chicago Bears (1-4) this Sunday. The Ravens (3-2) look to be without DT Brandon Williams again and, although they are at a semi-respectable 3-2 record, they could very well be .500 by 4:30 on Sunday.

The Bears have a very solid running game with stud running back Jordan Howard and jitterbug Tarik Cohen. This season, Howard and Cohen combine for 118 touches and 522 yards (4.4 YPC) on the ground with four touchdowns. Howard has seen an increase in action over the last few weeks while Cohen seems to be an afterthought in the Bears offense. With rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky under center, both running backs will see plenty of carries to start the contest at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens came alive last week on the first play of the game against Oakland when Joe Flacco uncorked a beautiful rainbow throw to Mike Wallace for the longest offensive play of the year thus far for Baltimore. Wallace continued to add big plays to the game script with another 50+ YD catch later in the game to set up a Buck Allen TD run. There was a Breshad Perriman sighting as well, as he finally managed to catch a ball. Jeremy Maclin excelled as the main possession receiver, consistently bailing out Flacco in pressure situations. Even in the play where Flacco danced around the pocket, fell, and delivered a floater, Maclin was right there and made the play.

The Ravens offensive line played consistently and stand-ins Matt Skura and Jermaine Eluemenor were very serviceable. According to Pro Football Focus, center Ryan Jensen had the highest rating of any NFL center during week 5. The Ravens only committed one penalty against the Raiders, an amazing feat considering they haven’t had that few of penalties since the winter of 2011. John Harbaugh was visibly pleased at the line’s performance.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR:

  1. Bears RBs: Howard and Cohen, if not held in check, have the ability to trample the Williams-less Ravens defensive unit. In week 4, Le’veon Bell had over 150 all-purpose yards and we could very well see more of the same against this front.
  2. Ravens WRs: With the unit seemingly catching fire at the most opportune time, the Bears shaky secondary could fall victim to the pure speed that is possessed by Baltimore. Calvert Hall Alum Adrian Amos is the best player in the secondary for this young Bears squad. Wallace will look to continue his ridiculous production after setting the record for yards-per-catch in a game by a Raven, previously held by Qadry Ismail. Perriman looks to become more of a factor and shake the premature title of bust.
  3. Bears Defense: Surprisingly, this unit is sixth in the league in total defense, which doesn’t bode particularly well for the offensively-challenged Baltimore Ravens.
  4. Trubisky: After a mixed bag start for the rookie, Trubisky looks to yet again step into the crucible and take on one of the toughest defenses in the NFL. He could have a very good game if the offensive line holds up, but chances are he will struggle mightily, as Baltimore’s secondary is far more talented than Minnesota’s.

Details:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears

What: Week 6 NFL regular season

When: 1:00 p.m.. ET, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

TV Channel: FOX

Live Stream: NFL Game PassFOX Sports Go

Radio: WBAL News Radio 1090 , BaltimoreRavens.com

Point Spread: Baltimore, -6.5

Over/Under: 39.5

Weather: 84 degrees, partly cloudy

Image Credit: NFL