The third preseason game is meant to be the big one, the one where the starters see their most time on the field. However, this year John Harbaugh has opted for a different strategy, giving his projected starters roughly 20 plays per game for the first three preseason games, which equates to about a full game of playing time. That meant that, for Ravens fans, the third game wasn’t much different from the previous two.Embed from Getty Images
A low-scoring affair saw just one TD from either team, with the Ravens adding two field goals (one by reserve punter Kenny Allen) and the Bills adding one. Buffalo’s score was bolstered by a safety that the Ravens took deliberately to run some time off the clock late in the fourth.
Lots of people have written much deeper analysis than you’ll find here but here are five thoughts:
- It’s more of the same from the offense…
This has been a tricky preseason for an offense that looks under-powered even with everyone healthy but is downright weak given the current injuries. Flacco and Perriman have been missing throughout and numerous others have had their participation limited. That’s meant more time for the backups but, with the possible exception of running back Taquan Mizzell, few have shown much promise. Against Buffalo, once again, the ‘first team’ offense couldn’t make much happen. On the bright side, they did a better job with ball security than they had in Miami.
- … and more of the same from the defense
In contrast, the defense continues to look dominant. The first team D has not allowed a TD in any of the three games and, the depth on the squad is such that they have looked strong throughout the game.
- Woodrum and Reynolds slipping from contention…
Third string QB Josh Woodrum did enough in the first two games to earn some time with the first team offense but he wasn’t able to make the most of the opportunity. His unimpressive performance against the Bills’ starting D will have underlined the fact that the backup QB position is Ryan Mallett’s to lose. Woodrum will now have to wait and see whether the Ravens keep three QBs on the roster. Meanwhile, Keenan Reynolds seems to have faded from contention as a kick returner, seeing little action against Buffalo. He’s now likely to end up on the practice squad.
- … but Hill and Mizzell are looking strong
There are bright spots, though. As mentioned above, Mizzell has had a good preseason and stands a chance of making the roster spot. Catching the Ravens’ only TD against the Bills certainly won’t have harmed his case. And undrafted rookie CB Jaylen Hill had another great game, with his second preseason pick. It would be a big surprise if he didn’t make the cut.
- Is Matt Judon making the step up?
Coaches talk a lot about the big improvements that players make between their rookie and second years. Matt Judon could be the latest example. He had a strong game versus Buffalo with four tackles, a sack and a pass batted down at the line. He should see a lot of playing time this year.
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