By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens are about to take on the Carolina Panthers in preseason game number two. Now that the preseason is only three games, this is the most likely game for the Ravens to use as a dress rehearsal game. Considering that the Ravens have been dealing with numerous injuries and Lamar Jackson didn’t suit up for the preseason opener, don’t count on that. It’s a work night for the purple and black however it’s an exhibition game.
What can we expect to see and what should we want to see? Let’s get on those questions. Here are four things that the Baltimore Ravens ideally put on display in this preseason bout:
1. As much of the starting offense as possible, even if it’s only one drive:
The Ravens’ biggest problem for the 2021 training camp has been continuity on offense. To say that the offense hasn’t been able to gel together during practice and one preseason game is an understatement. When the Ravens came into the first game last Saturday, the projected starting offensive linemen hadn’t even been on the field together. Lamar Jackson’s positive Covid-19 test and the wide receivers’ injuries were unhelpful.
Now, we’re not on Dan-Orlovsky levels of panic time. Still, the Ravens have to start getting this thing together. It’s time to build some momentum towards the regular season. A couple of drives with the offensive line not looking lost, with Lamar Jackson looking sharp, and a little bit of fun with J.K. Dobbins could seriously calm some nerves. On the flip side, if the offense has some hitches, the preseason is a consequence-free chance to work on things in a game situation as long as the team stays healthy.
John Harbaugh has to feel this one out. If the offensive line is going to perform the way it did against the Saints, he probably won’t want to risk it with his MVP quarterback. If the Ravens have a chance to take a step forward and flip the script from this frustrating camp (at least for the offense) Harbaugh should let the offense get some work in.
2. Can somebody win the TE3 job already?
The Ravens got Josh Oliver plenty of playing time against the Saints. Oliver is probably leading the battle for the third tight-end spot. It still would be nice for Oliver to make it obvious on the field. Josh Oliver had four grabs in the past game for 22 yards. It would be nice to see if Oliver can stretch the field a bit with his athleticism. In practice, he’s made some eye-opening plays down the field, it would be good to see that in the game.
The number three tight end spot could very well be the number two spot at the beginning of the season, as the Ravens await the return of Nick Boyle. With Mark Andrews being the big playmaker of the position, blocking is the most important thing on display. Eric Wolfe has also shown himself to be a solid blocker. Ben Mason is listed as a tight end, despite looking and walking and playing like a fullback. Does he factor into the equation? In a perfect world, the second preseason game makes obvious answers for these questions.
3. Continued success for young defensive backs:
You can never have enough young talent at cornerback and the safety positions. With that in mind can the young defensive backs of the Ravens continue to impress. Against the New Orleans Saints, it was hard to find a single defensive back to put on the chopping block. Chris Westry made a solid impression as a cover corner despite a cringe-worthy taunting penalty.
Shaun Wade looked sealed the game with a nice interception. Brandon Stephens and Ar’Darius Washington were true speedsters doing a bit of everything and Geno Stone may have been the player of the game with two picks. Let’s see if the defensive backs can keep making roster cuts next to impossible in the backend of the defense.
4. Odafe to get his Oweh
If you thought I could resist that play on words you don’t know me. Odafe Oweh looked really exciting in his first preseason action with the Ravens. Oweh is a very important player to the Ravens’ defense. The better Oweh performs, the better that Eric DeCosta’s plan looks.
I keep stressing that we don’t need to see Oweh be a sack master in his rookie season. Still, any pass rush the Ravens get from Oweh is a flash of what could be on the way. The Ravens Flock can’t get enough of that from their first-round pick.
That’s what we should be hoping to see on Saturday night. These are the four things to keep a lookout for. Just get through two more preseason games and the regular season is here.