Defense shines as Ravens defeat Redskins 23-3 in preseason opener

BALTIMORE — On Thursday night, the Baltimore Ravens opened the 2017 preseason with a 23-3 win over the Washington Redskins thanks to some impressive play on defense.

With most of the offense either injured or resting, all eyes were on the defense and they did not disappoint. The Ravens defense started the game with three straight three-and-outs, completely stifling Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy and the rest of the Redskins offense. By the end of the first quarter, the Redskins only gained 27 total yards of offense.

The Ravens offensive unit did not fair much better in the early goings. Ryan Mallett struggled to find his open receivers and the offensive line wasn't opening many gaps for the run game. If it were not for a timely Redskins penalty, the Ravens would not have scored their first touchdown of the night.

Mallet finished the first quarter with an abysmal stat line. The backup quarterback went 1/4 on pass attempts and owned a negative passing yard total until the 11-minute mark in the second quarter. Things didn't get much better for Mallett as the half progressed. The quarterback finished his night with nine completions for 58 yards.

Despite Mallett's performance, the Ravens took advantage of some key mistakes by the Redskins. Baltimore held a 13-0 lead at the half. Following Terrance West's two-yard touchdown run, Justin Tucker nailed two field goals, including one from 59 yards, to round out the first half scoring.

Dustin Vaughan and Josh Woodrum took over the Ravens quarterback duties in the second half. Both QB's received a limited amount of pass attempts, but Woodrum was still able to make an impact. Following an excellent punt return by Kennan Reynolds, Woodrum connected with rookie receiver Tim white for a 33-yard touchdown to put the Ravens up 20-3. He finished his night with just four pass attempts but completed all of them for 85 yards.

The offensive game plan was definitely more run heavy in the second half. Four running backs got the chance to carry the ball. Two of them performed well. West averaged 4.6 yards per carry and scored the first touchdown of the game. Taquan Mizzell racked up 51 yards on 15 carries.

Some of the biggest individual performances of the night came from the defense. Rookie corner back Jaylen Hill made a big impression with a couple strong open field tackles and an interception at the end of the first half. Brent Urban had a solid game, picking up four tackles and one of the Ravens three sacks.

The Ravens get back to work in the coming days as they prepare for their next preseason game down in Miami. Before they make the trip, fans will have a chance to see the Ravens in action at the teams' third open practice this Saturday morning. That practice begins at 10 am at M&T Bank Stadium, and you can bring your dogs!

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun

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Podcast: Purple Painted Roundtable Episode 2

Welcome to the second episode of Purple-Painted Roundtable, a Baltimore Ravens podcast brought to you by Ebony Bird and Fansided. This episode airs on the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast Network.

On this episode, site experts Chris Schisler and Joe Schiller, and contributor Jake McDonnell, are back to go over the top stories surrounding the Ravens. At the time of recording this episode, 24 hours separate the Ravens from their first preseason game against the Washington Redskins. What are the top storylines going into the game? What should fans expect on Thursday? Who are some players to watch?

Of course, not all of the news concerns the game. It is no secret that the Ravens endured a rough start to training camp, particularly with injuries. Yesterday, head coach John Harbaugh lashed out at a reporter for asking about Marlon Humphrey, who has missed a string of practices with an undisclosed injury. Hear the guys’ response to this, and their thoughts on if Harbaugh’s answer was appropriate.

Twitter handles:

@Ebony_Bird

Chris: @footballman58

Joe: @joeschillerr

Jake: @JMcDonnell95

Check out articles from all three of these guys on Ebony Bird.

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on either iTunes or Soundcloud. Leave us a review on iTunes, and rate 5 stars. Follow Charm City Bird Watch on Twitter as well. Thank you!

Preview: Redskins head up the beltway to face Ravens in preseason opener

BALTIMORE — Training camp began two weeks ago for all NFL teams. After two weeks of practice, study, and retention, its time to show off in a game situation. On Thursday, the Baltimore Ravens open up the 2017 preseason against the Washington Redskins. We may not see a lot of the stars we usually vitness on Sundays, but the game gives us an idea of where the team stands in early August.

Details: 

Where: M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland

When: Thursday, Aug. 10, 7:30 pm

Tune in: Ravens fans can catch the game on WBAL-TV, 1090 WBAL (AM), and 98 Rock (FM). Gameday audio will also stream live on the Baltimore Ravens website.

Banged-Up Birds: It’s no secret that the Ravens endured a rough start to the preseason. Since June 1, Baltimore lost seven players for the season, due to either injury (Tavon Young, Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gillmore, Kenneth Dixon, Nico Siragusa), retirement (John Urschel), or suspension (Darren Waller). Simultaneously, the Ravens discover themselves dealing with several other injuries that may not end seasons, but still concern us. Joe Flacco (back), Maurice Canady (knee), Breshad Perriman (hamstring), Marlon Humphrey (unknown), and Alex Lewis (unknown) currently stand on the sidelines for various reasons. Flacco injured his back while lifting and has yet to participate in a training camp practice. Canady underwent a knee procedure last week. He will miss a big chunk of, if not all of the 2017 season. Perriman pulled his hamstring last week. No sign of him since. Lewis and Humphrey missed the last couple practices.

Kaepernick talk dying down: Another distraction Baltimore dealt with recently revolves around free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. When Flacco’s injury was announced, Harbaugh spoke positively about his relationship with Kaepernick (John’s brother, Jim, and Ravens Senior Offensive Assistant Greg Roman coached Kaepernick in San Francisco with the 49ers). Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti got pressed about Kaepernick, too. The national media made a huge deal about why the Ravens should bring Kaepernick in, but the fact is, according to Harbaugh, Flacco will not miss any time in the regular season.

Two weeks passed since Flacco’s injury became public. Mixed reports say that Flacco could sit out anywhere between two and six weeks. Because no timetable for Flacco came out yet, the Kaepernick talk fades by the day. The girlfriend of Kaepernick made some harsh comments about Biscotti, so that cannot help the quarterback’s quest for a new NFL home.

Quarterback situation: In Flacco’s absence, Ryan Mallett runs with the starters. In a normal preseason game one scenario, Flacco would play one series, if any. Because no one knows Flacco’s return timetable, Mallett may only stay in for a series or two. It seems unwise to keep Mallett in any longer than a quarter on Thursday.

Since we won’t see a lot of Mallett in this game, I hope everyone’s ready for a lot of Dustin Vaugahn and Josh Woodrum. Both of these guys went undrafted and own more than one year of experience. Unless Flacco’s back injury lingers into the season, neither Vaugahn or Woodrum will make the team.

The coaching staff likely wants plenty of film on these two incase they need to carry one on the roster. If you do not know these names, you will by the end of the game.

Undrafted receivers impressing: Every season brings a new wave of undrafted rookies trying to make the team. So far in camp, a lot of beat writers rave about two players who did not hear their name called on draft day – Quincy Adeboyejo from Mississippi and Tim White from Arizona State.

Both of these guys can take the top off a defense. White, although not over six feet tall, comes to the Ravens as a former track and field star at Arizona State. Last year, he competed in the Olympic Track and Field Trials. He came up just shy of qualifying for the Olympic Games.

Reporters, like Ryan Mink of the Ravens, call White “a human highlight reel” early on in camp. Videos emerged of White doing a backflip after catching a touchdown at Saturday’s practice any Navy. White’s probably one of the most athletic players on the roster.

Adeboyejo shares another interesting story. He claims that 15 NFL teams recruited him, but he chose the Ravens because of his relationship with receivers coach Bobby Engram. Turns out, Engram previously coached Adeboyejo at the East-West Shrine Game. That relationship seems to pay dividends for Adeboyejo right now.

Keep in mind that we hear stories like this every year about undrafted players. What they’ve accomplished so far in camp should not go unnoticed, but for them to make the team, they need to flash in the games. Too many undrafted players shine early in camp and disappear once the preseason games start. Thursday will indicate whether or not White and Adeboyejo can actually play in the NFL.

Young players on defense: Patrick Ricard, undrafted rookie defensive end from Maine, also deserves some recognition for his efforts. At 6’3″, 300 pounds, Ricard looks the part. Both Head Coach John Harbaugh and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees muttered his name at press conferences, displaying their enthusiasm for the young defender.

Ricard will need a great camp to make the team. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun noted that 2015 third round pick Carl Davis and 2016 fourth round pick Willie Henry are having solid camps too. 2016 third round pick Bronson Kaufusi and 2017 third round pick Chris Wormley also find themselves in the mix for defensive end spots. In the first depth chart released for the 2017 season, the Ravens listed Brent Urban in the starting defensive end position. Both starting defensive ends from 2016, Lawrence Guy and Timmy Jernigan, departed in the offseason. There’s a lot of depth at that position to fill those shoes.

Linebacker, both inside and in the pass rush, includes a lot of youth. Outside of Terrell Suggs, no pass rusher on the roster owns more than two years of experience. Rookies Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser look the part, and will push Matt Judon and Za’Darius Smith in games.

The defense, in need of someone to replace Zachary Orr next to C.J. Mosley, will look to 2016 second rounder Kamalei Correa to do that. Correa fought through a rough transition to the NFL, but says that this camp slowed down compared to last year. Look for all of the young rushers and Correa to get a lot of time on Thursday.

What to make of the return game: Last season, the Ravens suffered in the return game because Devin Hester looked washed up. Since Jacoby Jones left following the 2014 season, the Ravens continue to search for a dynamic returner.

The first depth chart of 2017 lists Chris Moore as the starting kick returner, and Michael Campanero the top punt returner. Campanero follows Moore on kicks, and Lardarius Webb locks in at second on the punt return chart. Keenan Reynolds appears third on the list for both points and kicks.

The Ravens know what Webb can do on special teams, and he may not even play on Thursday. Given Campanero’s injury history, the coaching staff may hold him out too. Moore and Reynolds need a lot of reps at returner this preseason. Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg, also the assistant head coach, does not want Harbaugh up in arms about the return game again.

According to reports, Tim White took reps at returner too. With his speed and athleticism, he could evolve into the dynamic returner the Ravens need. Moore and Reynolds will likely see a lot of reps at returner in the first preseason game, but White should come into the picture once he gets more practice reps.

Notes on the Redskins: 

  • Over the offseason, quarterback Kirk Cousins became the first player ever to play under the executive franchise tag two years in a row. At the end of this season, the Redskins paid over $43 million to Cousins in two years.
  • 2016 first round receiver Josh Doctson, who missed his rookie year with an achilles injury, tweaked his hamstring over the weekend. He will probably not play in this game.
  • The Redskins lost both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in free agency, but the team upgraded by signing Terrell Pryor to a one-year contract. Jamison Crowder showed great improvement in 2016 with 97 receptions, 847 yards, and seven touchdowns. With Pryor as the clear #1, if Crowder builds off last season and Doctson stays healthy, this receiving unit will do great things.
  • Statistically, the Redskins ranked 28th in total defense last season and 24th in rushing. Washington addressed that in the offseason. They signed defensive end Stacy McGee and defensive tackle Terrell McClain. They used their first round draft pick on Alabama DT Jonathan Allen. Like the Ravens, Washington used a lot of their early picks on defense, displaying their desire to improve this season.

Image Credit: Redskins Wire

Ravens 2017 Preseason Schedule Announced

OWINGS MILLS, MD — The Ravens’ 2017 preseason schedule has been announced. From the graphic above, the four-game schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday, Aug. 10 – Home vs. Washington Redskins
  • Friday, Aug. 18 / Saturday, Aug. 19 – Away vs. Miami Dolphins
  • Friday, Aug. 25 / Saturday, Aug. 26 – Home vs. Buffalo Bills
  • Thursday, Aug. 31 – Away vs. New Orleans Saints

Notes:

  • With the Under Armor Performance Center undergoing renovations, Ravens fans will not be able to attend training camp this year. That means that the Aug. 10 game against the Redskins will be the first chance for Ravens fans to see the team in person.
  • The Ravens do not typically face AFC teams in the preseason, but they will twice this summer.
  • For the eighth straight year, the Ravens will play their third preseason game at home, this year against the Bills.
  • For the third time in four years, the Ravens will wrap up the preseason down in New Orleans with a bubble player-filled duo with the Saints.