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Ravens vs. Cardinals: Pre-Game Storylines

What to focus on prior to tonight’s kickoff

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Tennessee Titans v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Ravens’ second of three preseason games kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. ET. But before Head Coach John Harbaugh and company hope to extend their preseason win streak to 22-straight victories, here are the latest storylines.

Drama at Wide Receiver

On Friday, the Ravens signed wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. He enters the competition in Baltimore fresh off being cut by the Las Vegas Raiders on Tuesday. It wouldn’t seem he’s a lock to make the 53-man roster, but competing for the No. 4 or No. 5 spot.

I compare the addition of Robinson to an episode of The Bachelorette (stick with me, please). More than halfway through a season, suddenly a new person joins the fray. Robinson will have ground to cover and get a ton of attention quickly to see if there’s a connection. But, Robinson has the traits of a favorite and we’ll see if Robinson will be picked over the likes of Shemar Bridges, Jaylon Moore and the other wideouts.

Revenge Game (not really)

Back in November, quarterback Trace McSorley was signed off the Ravens practice squad by the Arizona Cardinals. Now, he’s back for revenge!

All kidding aside, it will be enjoyable to watch McSorley. There were times—foolish times, where I heard fans clamoring for McSorley, saying “he just looks more poised in the pocket” and “knows how to read a defense.” Both are reasonable observations until the second half of these sentences ended with “better than Lamar Jackson.”

There was a time McSorley and Tyler Huntley were competing for the backup quarterback spot here in Baltimore. Both practiced well, but there’s a reason Huntley remains the Ravens’ No. 2 quarterback.

Look for Special Teams

The best way to find out who the Ravens are keying in on for the back half of the roster is finding who they’re using on special teams. The player(s) returning kicks and punts, those in charge of blocking on returns and the gunners tend to have a greater likelihood of making the 53-man roster.

Watch the Trenches

As always, pay close attention on both offense and defense to the linemen and who makes the starts on each side. Currently, guard Ben Powers is the starting left guard but has been taking snaps at center. Will center Trystan Colon see a lot of snaps, and when will guard Tyre Phillips join the mix?

The same goes for defense. There’s competition brewing with nine defensive linemen, and defensive tackle Aaron Crawford in particular has shown he may be worth a spot.

Depth Wanted: Inside Linebacker

There’s a lack of clarity after Patrick Queen and Josh Bynes at inside linebacker. The Ravens’ first preseason game against the Tennessee Titans offered little clarity at who is impressing, though Malik Harrison did generate a takeaway with a forced fumble. Between Harrison, Krsitian Welch and Jeremiah Moon, the linebacker unit totaled only one defensive stop, according to PFF.

I think the lack of attention regarding the linebacker is in part due to the Ravens’ strength at safety, where many expect them to operate with three safeties more than three inside backers. If the depth doesn’t show further improvement, it will likely be forced.