Leading up to the second preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, we wanted to find out a bit more about the team we’ll be facing. For that, I sent over 5 questions for Kyle Barber of Baltimore Beatdown and he sent me some back as well. Here are 5 things I wanted to know heading into Monday night’s matchup.
The Ravens led the NFL in interceptions last season and from an outside perspective, appear as though they haven’t lost much in the way of pass defense. How much should we expect to see of this first-team defense in this preseason game?
The team continues to look sharp. Jimmy Smith is (somehow) already back after his Achilles’ tear seven months ago and battling it out against Crabtree on the daily. If Harbaugh allows the first-team defense to play considerable snaps, you’ll see the same strong and talented defense you always can expect from the Ravens. If anything, they’ve improved their pass defense with Tavon Young returning. His play in the slot-corner position is top-tier.
The Ravens added several weapons to the offense to bolster the passing game this offseason. How are the new faces looking and what do you expect out of the passing game this season?
The new faces look great! I attended camp and watched as both WR John Brown and WR Michael Crabtree hauled in big-time catches. Even when playing against the Ravens starters, they’ve looked good. You can’t forget Willie Snead IV, either. He’s one of a select few capable of beating Young in the slot.
The rookies look impressive also, with Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews both producing as blockers and pass-catchers. Honestly, it’s hard to not look better as last season the team was 29th in passing.
Who are some players that Colts fans might not know that we should be watching for in this preseason matchup?
On offense, watch for Gus Edwards, an undrafted free agent running back who many believe is beating Kenneth Dixon for the third running back spot. He’s practiced well and moved the chains in the preseason.
On defense, turn your attention to rookie cornerback Anthony Averett. He’s another Alabama product on the Ravens and he’s shined in practice with physicality and great speed.
It seems like in the past the Ravens have been synonymous with a dominant front seven. What do you think is the identity of this Ravens team heading into this season?
I believe the identity is still on the defensive side of the ball. The veterans still lead their team to battle, but the youth movement is there. As for the team being known for their front seven, nothing has changed. Both Terrell Suggs and Matt Judon are capable of getting to the quarterback and C.J. Mosley still commands the middle of the field.
What rookie do you expect to make the greatest impact in this preseason game? This season?
I assume Lamar Jackson will make the greatest impact come Monday night. He’s played decent football in the past two preseason games and he’ll do well again. For this season, though, watch for either Hayden Hurst or Orlando Brown Jr. The right tackle position is suspect and ‘Zeus Jr.’ only allowed a single pressure the past two preseason games, both of which he was competing against the starters.