One pre-season game does not determine the success or failure in the quest for a player to make a team's roster. However, it could go a long way to being an integral part of the coaching staff's decision-making process. The Baltimore Ravens 31-17 pre-season opener over the Atlanta Falcons included a few solid performances for guys who are definitely on the bubble.
Running Back Bobby Rainey continues to impress with his versatility as well as his elusiveness, almost being a clone of starter Ray Rice in both size and style. Wide receiver Deonte Thompson showed off his blazing speed plus good hands in the battle to see who will be the last couple of receivers to make the roster.
Rainey's 138 all-purpose yards from rushing, receiving, kickoff and punt returns had to impress the coaches. Rainey is competing with second year RB's Anthony Allen ( 5 carries, 9 yards) and Damien Berry (7 carries, 17 yards/1 reception, 12 yards) for a position behind Ray Rice and 3rd round draft pick Bernard Pierce (Pierce did not play last night due to injury).
Thompson's 53 receiving yards were by far the most on the team and his three receptions included a 22 yard TD catch. Deonte is hoping to make the roster at the fourth or fifth wide receiver position. The top three are obviously Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. LaQuan Williams seems to have the edge on the fourth slot but Thompson seems to be ahead of both Tandon Doss and Tommy Streeter as well as the other receivers on the current roster.
The other positions did not have clear winners and losers, although rookie center Gino Gradkowski got the majority of reps at the position and really is not in competition for the backup position behind veteran Matt Birk. Rookie safety Omar Brown had a great game with an interception and fumble recovery, proving being in the right place at the right time presents itself with wonderful opportunities to take advantage of.
Although last year's backup QB Tyrod Taylor did not play poorly (8-17, 64 yards), veteran Curtis Painter had a monster game (7-14, 76 yards) with three TD passes to bring the team from behind to victory. The placekicking competition stayed dead even, with veteran Billy Cundiff hitting an extra point while rookie Justin Tucker nailed a 36-yard FG to go along with three extra points.
The roster picture will get clearer by the time the fourth pre-season game is done, but now the team goes back to practice until next Friday evening, when the Ravens host the Detroit Lions at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium.