The Ravens are 2-0 thus far into the preseason after coming off a thrilling win against the Indianapolis Colts. On Saturday, the Detroit Lions come to town and there is no shortage of storylines.
Joe Flacco makes his return
Yep, you read that correctly. Joe Flacco will make his return to action on Saturday night. He will finally get a chance to play with pass rushers who will actually hit him. Seeing how he reacts to real pressure will be the key story to watch with him while he plays. It will also be interesting to watch how long he plays. Typically, by the third preseason game, the first team if offense is playing into the second quarter, if not until the half. I don’t see Flacco playing for that long on Saturday, but for however long he does play, his chemistry with new wide receivers (namely Mike Wallace) will be worth keeping an eye on.
How will the Ravens distribute snaps to running backs?
The Ravens have a plethora of solid running backs on the roster. The foursome of Justin Forsett, Terrance West, Kenneth Dixon, and Javorius Allen have all proven to be starting caliber running backs. Forsett will likely get the start on Saturday? But how will the Ravens work the other backs in? When will they use the other backs? Will they use a committee system, or try to use one bell cow back?
All of these are questions worth watching. I think it is extremely unlikely that the Ravens use Forsett as a bell cow back in the first half. They are almost guaranteed to use a committee as Coach Harbaugh will want to get all of his running backs on the field. My depth chart for the running backs goes as follows: Forsett, West, Dixon, Allen. Whether or not the Ravens use them in that order isn't a huge deal, because they all are more than capable. It is how much, in what situations, and where on the field they are used that is worth watching.
Matt Judon to get starters reps
Matt Judon has been dominating offensive lines thus far, and his showing has earned him starting reps in the coming game versus Detroit. The key to watch for him is whether his production is somewhat due to lesser offensive lineman, or if he is the real deal. Judon probably won't find himself above Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil or Za’Darius Smith on the depth chart come Week 1, but he can carve himself out a role if he does well against first teamers. As of now, a third down pass rushing specialist is probably Judon’s ceiling for this year, but his role could continually increase throughout the year. With Dumervil and Suggs aging, the Ravens want to make sure they have good replacements, and the duo of Smith and Judon may prove to be just that.
Will the secondary show up?
Throughout the preseason the secondary has been mediocre at best. Opposing offenses have seemingly moved the ball down the field at will. The defense has been able to pull it together once their opponent have arrived in the red zone, but the defense needs to get off the field much quicker. The secondary has been the biggest culprit. Most notably, Kyle Arrington, Shareece Wright and Jerraud Powers with poor showings. But the whole secondary in addition to Arrington, Wright and Powers needs to improve. The Lions will be a good test as they are another high powered passing offense. Matthew Stafford can really sling it, and the secondary will need to play well to slow him down.
The Ravens want to move to 3-0 on Saturday, but win or lose, there is plenty to watch for.