The Baltimore Ravens may have lost the game 13-6 in their pre-season opener at the Phladelphia Eagles last night, but what they saw from some of their players has put a positive spin on the effort. The final score does not give any indication of the temperature of the team as a whole, but it did give the coaching staff a good look at a few key players who are expected to play pivotal roles in the 2011 season.
Outside linebacker Paul Kruger played a lot more in this game than perhaps he did in all of the 2010 season, recording five tackles and sacking Eagles reserve QB Vince Young. His speed off the edge was one of the things that the team was missing last year and is looking for Kruger to provide this season. In a story in the Carroll County Times, Aaron Wilsonwrites about Kruger's progress, which is also being noticed by other starters on the defense.
With the loss of Todd Heap to salary cap reasons, both second year tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta are being looked at for solid seasons to compensate and while neither of them is as accomplished as Heap, the combination of the two could be a bonus for the team. Although Dickson was held out of last night's game, Pitta started and played great, catching four passes for 47 yards, including one that he caught off the back of the Eagles defender as he fell to the ground.
Rookie wide receivers Tandon Doss and LaQuan Williams (Maryland) had nice games as well with three receptions each in the losing cause. Veteran running back Jalen Parmele was the rushing workhorse, with seven rushes for 35 yards, a nice 5 yards/carry average.
Kruger led the way on defense, but guys like cornerbacks Cary Williams, Lardarius Webb, linebackers Danell Ellerbe, Tavares Gooden, Jameel McClain, Albert McClellan and safety Haruki Nakamura pitched in with good efforts. New safety Bernard Pollard intercepted a pass, which looks good as his pass coverage skills have been noted to be his weakness.
These notes and the stats on NFL.com show that the game showed be measured by the play of the individuals at this point of the season, which unlike the regular season, the end result is not the key thing that the coaches are looking at.