Friday, August 13, 2010

RAVENS PRESEASON: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly & The Megan Fox

The preseason in the NFL for all intents and purposes provides the league's clubs two things: - a dress rehearsal stage for the regular season and an opportunity to build their rosters from the bottom up.

The dress rehearsals aid timing while the games afford inexperienced players a chance to showcase their talents, show up on tape and help the coaching staff assemble quality depth.During the preseason, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Megan Fox will certainly touch down on the performances of the players at the top end of the depth chart but the focus will be on the positional battles that are the most competitive and/or where the Ravens have deficiencies, relatively speaking.


THE GOOD: Joe Flacco had an efficient evening going 8 for 12 for 120 yards including a 30 yard scoring strike early in the second quarter to Mark Clayton whose productive training camp has now spilled over into the preseason. One of the things that QB Coach Jim Zorn has said he'd like to assist Flacco with is his suddenness in the pocket. If there is a knock on Flacco's performance on Thursday night, Zorn's lessons have not been fully embraced...Willis McGahee showed why he may be the most impactful back up as he ran with purpose and navigated effectively during the handful of screen passes he corralled during the first team offense's 10 play, 96 yard drive that burned 5:27 of game clock.On defense the focus was on the corners and Chris Carr (briefly), Travis Fisher and Cary Williams held up reasonably well although the Panthers didn't really challenge them. Neither team wanted to show too much since the combatants will face each other again during the regular season on November 21...Tom Zbikowski looked solid. His trimmed physique adds explosiveness and clearly that was on display when he blitzed.

THE BAD: You have to like the willingness of Cam Cameron to use Terrence Cody as a fullback, a sub package we haven't seen during training camp. It needs work...Jameel McClain usurped Dannell Ellerbe's hold on the starting inside linebacker slot next to Ray Lewis during camp. Against the Panthers, McClain inconsistencies reeled him back in and the gap between him and Ellerbe and Tavares Gooden now appears to have closed a bit.

THE UGLY: On the evening the Ravens surrendered six sacks, two of which sent Flacco to the turf as Panthers' Right DE Tyler Brayton beat Michael Oher twice while the second year tackle manned the blind side.


Cornerback: The combatants include: Prince Miller, Travis Fisher, Marcus Paschal, KJ Gerard, Doug Dutch and Chris Hawkins. The guess here is that they are all fighting for one roster spot. Paschal has had a decent camp but is out with a quad injury and Gerard has practiced very little while trying to bounce back from a hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined. Hawkins has size over Dutch and that gives him an edge but based upon the performances last night Miller and Fisher have the edge over the field. Neither player has made impactful plays during camp yet both played reasonably well last night despite not being challenged. Miller provides a special teams spark but lacks size. He is very overmatched when asked to blitz from the nickel position, something that the similarly sized Corey Ivy once did effectively. Fisher brings experience. Neither is a lock for the squad and this battle is far from decided. Plus there may be some new competitors added to the mix later this month.

The Good (Miller)

Wide Receiver: Unless a couple of wide receivers can prove that they can make stand out special teams contributions it seems like a reach to think the Ravens will keep six receivers. The fifth WR roster spot will go to one of the following: Demetrius Williams, David Reed, Justin Harper or Marcus Smith. Smith looks slow, has poor hands and has shown little sign of developing as a pro receiver. Williams ran with the second team offense and based upon the number of snaps and attempts on Thursday coupled with his presence on coverage teams he would appear to have the lead. This one is likely to come down to Williams and Reed.

Offensive Line: The starting lineup is set (assuming of course Jared Gaither gets it together) but if not the right tackle position goes to Oniel Cousins who held up reasonably well against the Panthers. Last year the Ravens carried nine offensive linemen and that ninth spot will be awarded to one of the following players barring a trade or waiver wire acquisition: David Hale, Stefan Rodgers, Joe Reitz, Ramon Harewood or Devin Tyler. No one stands out at the moment and the ninth slot is hardly a slam dunk. Just ask Joe Reitz.

The Ugly (all reserve offensive linemen)

Defensive Line: Should the Ravens keep 9 on the D-Line and you assume that the locks are Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg, Trevor Pryce, Cory Redding, Terrence Cody and Paul Kruger then the remaining slots will consist of three of these candidates: Arthur Jones; Brandon McKinney, Lamar Divens and Kelly Talavou. At this point it's too close to call but if last night is the barometer, Jones and McKinney are on the bubble.

The Good (Kruger, Talavou)

Linebacker: Ten, maybe 11 will populate linebacker coach Dean Pees' corps. The locks are Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Dannell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden, Jameel McClain, Antwan Barnes and Brendon Ayanbadejo. That leaves 2 or 3 available spots, perhaps a fourth to start the season if Ayanbadejo remains on PUP. Among those attempting to be part of the final 53 are: Albert McClellan; Edgar Jones; Prescott Burgess; and Jason Phillips. Sergio Kindle will almost certainly start the season of PUP. Of those four Burgess made the biggest impact, particularly on special teams.

Kicker: The battle between Shayne Graham and Billy Cundiff is a dead heat at the moment and if it plays out that way, look for Cundiff to emerge as the winner. His price tag is about half of that of Graham's. Both were solid kicking off v. Carolina.


The standouts from last night were Terrence Cody, Antwan Barnes, Tom Zbikowski, Haruki Nakamura, Ed Dickson, Cary Williams and Prince Miller.


The MF Award is shared this week by two players who have probably never been mentioned in the same sentence with Megan Fox. Both received plenty of playing time last night - Terrence Cody and Antwan Barnes. Cody was a force in the middle of the line, twice shedding blocks to drop ball carriers for no gain. Together with Ngata, he could help pave the way to a very productive season for the Ravens' inside linebackers. Cody had a total of five tackles on the night...Antwan Barnes also had 5 tackles, forced Pro Bowler left tackle Jordan Gross to hold him twice in order to prevent sacks and was disruptive in the Panthers' offensive backfield. During camp John Harbaugh called Barnes a sleeper as he expects a productive year from the speedy pass rusher. Thursday night was a good start.


Anonymous said...

Best in show last night
1. Cody
2. Talevou
3. Zibikowski
4. Kruger
5. Divens (whoever he is...)
6. Clayton
7. Dixson
8. Chester (at center)
9. Miller
10. C. Williams
11. Barnes

Worst in show
1. Mattison (who cares if he's coaches son)
2. Parmele (terrible fumble)
3. Tyler (right tackle, couldn't block a dead man all second half)
4. Troy Smith (it's not close between him and Bulger, sorry Reed)
5. Oher (expect more at LT)
6. Grubbs (see #5)
7. Ellerbe (lost at times)
8. Mcclain (see #7)
9. Burgess (cannot run)
10. Graham (brought here to make those)
11. Frank Walker (just because)

Overall, lots of team depth except for corner. Tackle is a struggle if Gaither can't play but think Yanda at right tackle and Chester at right guard is a solid/good combination that we all forget if Cousins can't hold it down.

Solid opener.....we are loaded at RB, WO, QB, and TE on offense. On defense, we are stacked at DL, LB, and Safety....we need Webb in the lineup and i'll feel good.

Anonymous said...

The "O" line may be of some concern because if Gaither has proven anything in the 4 years he's been here, it's that he is unreliable and....injury prone. That's a bad combination. Cousins didn't look as good to me last night as he did to you. With a plethora of linebackers, running backs and wide receivers, trade "rumors" may have some substance. Someone please explain why Zybikowski was back fielding the first punt when they are already very thin in the secondary?! Wasn't Grubbs injured in training camp last week and a question mark for last night's game, which may explain the temporary collapse on the left side.......

Jerry B said...

Like most of what I saw last night and, of course, any time you escape injuries, that's a good thing. They really need to solidify the RT position and, if they were showcasing McGahee and Clayton for trade bait, they couldn't have scripted it better. There is so much talent on this team that their "waived" players will provide solid talent for some other teams......

Anonymous said...

First glance take...great trade by Ozzie and DeCosta on draft day 1. Dickson, Pitta, and Cody Burger all look legit. If Dickson is as good as he looked last night, it's really a stroke of genius to get the guy considering we had given up the pick to get Boldin. It won't surprise me if he ends up better than Gresham of OU drafted in round one by Bengals.

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 August 15th
...the 41st anniversary for WOODSTOCK...
I was flat out shocked when I heard that MATT KUTULA was cut
..however, I guess the coaches felt that his tendonitis was not totally cured, or this new guy is dynamite? "Cox impressed the coaching staff tremendously during his audition Thursday night in a 17-12 win over the Carolina Panthers, convincing them it was time to make a change.: I cut this from AARONs article today, and I'm sure he has the SKINNY on this move. I would like to know the real reason. Money ? Of course Matt was a good friend of RAVENS NEST 14, for the 5 years that he played in Baltimore. He will be missed in more ways than one!

Anonymous said...

Katula cost the team the Vikings game last year. Everyone blames Hauska for the miss but Katula's snap on said kick was absolutely terrible. He also hurt the Ravens on multiple other occasions too.

It' not personal, it's business.....

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 8/24/20
...My first comment is: The Person who does the MEGAN FOX ...placed THE TOP END in the appropriate "SPOT" on the WEB PAGE..
I agree with the Last Anonymous who feels that,THE BAD SNAP BY KATULA caused the Hauska Missed FG.
I watched the Replay many times last year..and I agree with him. BAD SNAP=MISSED FG:Not the kickers F A U L T ! !