Ravens-Eagles preseason primer: Five players to watch

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A four-day trip to Philadelphia culminates with the Ravens’ second preseason game of the summer with the Eagles on Saturday night.
Unlike last year’s three-day practice session with San Francisco that followed a preseason game, the Ravens should be very familiar with Chip Kelly’s team after two days of full workouts and Friday’s walk-through leading into their preseason contest. By most accounts, the trip was productive with only a few skirmishes that paled in comparison to fights that have taken place elsewhere between teams practicing together.
“They treated us very well, and we had three really good practices with a good football team,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “We felt like we’ve improved. You see schemes you don’t normally see, the way routes are run or different types of plays on both sides of the ball that you don’t normally see. It’s great to get a chance to expose yourself to some different schemes.”
After the starting offense put together a 16-play touchdown drive in its only action in the preseason opener, Harbaugh could push his starters to play the entire first quarter in the second game of the summer. As always, that will depend on the number of plays each drive consumes and the plan will be individualized with some starters being removed early and younger first-teamers playing a little bit more.
Saturday marks the first time that Baltimore will play the Eagles in the preseason since 2011. The teams played in 10 out of the first 12 years of the Ravens’ existence, making the recent lull somewhat surprising given the geographic proximity between the teams.
The Ravens are 7-4 against Philadephia in the all-time preseason series and 1-2-1 against them in their regular-season history. They are set to meet in the 2016 regular season, which will push back a joint-practice reunion until at least the following year.
Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report
The Ravens are not required to release an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess on what the injury report would look like if one were to be released ahead of Saturday night’s game in Philadelphia.
Most of the players ruled to be out will come as no surprise, but the status of a few will be in question. This list, of course, will not include any veterans who may be held out of the preseason opener due to the coaching staff’s preference.
Again, this is not an official injury report released by the Ravens:
OUT: WR Breshad Perriman (knee), CB Lardarius Webb (hamstring), TE Dennis Pitta (hip), S Matt Elam (biceps), DE Brent Urban (biceps), TE Allen Reisner (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: G Kelechi Osemele (Achilles), OT Jah Reid (back), LB Steven Means (groin)
QUESTIONABLE: OT Rick Wagner (foot), S Terrence Brooks (knee), G John Urschel (concussion), G Robert Myers (concussion), DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (undisclosed), OT Darryl Baldwin (undisclosed), OL Blaine Clausell (undisclosed)
PROBABLE: DT Timmy Jernigan (foot), WR Marlon Brown (back), DE DeAngelo Tyson (elbow), CB Asa Jackson (knee)
Five players to watch Saturday night
CB Rashaan Melvin

The absence of Lardarius Webb continues to create more opportunities for Melvin, who did a respectable job down the stretch last year until major struggles in the playoff loss to New England. Overall, the 6-foot-2 corner has practiced well this summer, impressing against the Eagles this week. With veteran Kyle Arrington better suited to play inside in the nickel package, the 25-year-old Melvin is an intriguing option for the future with Webb approaching 30 and not the player he was a few years ago. A strong performance by Melvin in the second preseason game could put some heat on the veteran once his hamstring is finally healthy.
WR Darren Waller
Few players have improved as much from the spring until now as the sixth-round pick from Georgia Tech, who is developing rapidly for a 6-foot-6 receiver with few opportunities in Paul Johnson’s triple-option attack. Despite being 245 pounds, Waller runs better routes than you’d expect and is sinking his hips better when trying to change directions. At the start of the summer, the practice squad appeared to be a realistic option for the tall wideout, but Waller looks more and more like a player who could help the Ravens inside the red zone while continuing to learn the finer points of the position. Baltimore has had plenty of tall receivers in the past, but he shows signs of a better skill set to go along with his height.
OL Ryan Jensen
With Osemele, Urschel, and Myers all recently dealing with health concerns, Jensen could draw a start at left guard against the Eagles after playing well this summer. A favorite of offensive line coach Juan Castillo, the Colorado State-Pueblo product is moving into position to earn a roster spot with the ability to play all three interior line positions, the kind of versatility that is valuable on game days. At 6-foor-4 and 310 pounds, Jensen will have his hands full with a very talented Philadelphia defensive line, but Saturday will be a good litmus test if he indeed plays in place of the hobbled Osemele.
LB Albert McClellan
The veteran linebacker has been a mainstay on the roster, but the younger Zach Orr has emerged as not only a special-teams standout but a viable backup linebacker and it’s clear the Ravens would still like to salvage some value out of disappointing 2013 second-round pick Arthur Brown. These factors make you wonder if there will be room for all three on the 53-man roster. McClellan struggled at inside linebacker in the preseason opener, but he does have the ability to play all four linebacker spots in the Baltimore base defense, something that shouldn’t be overlooked when only a few reserve linebackers are active on game days. He’ll need to have a better showing against the Eagles to improve his roster standing.
TE Nick Boyle
Second-round pick Maxx Williams clearly possesses more upside for the future, but Boyle is showing more ability as a receiver than many anticipated and had a strong showing practicing against the Eagles this week. He has had some issues with drops at times, but the Ravens liked his hands at Delaware and believe he can be a solid all-around player at the position. Crockett Gillmore is the clear No. 1 tight end at this point, but Boyle’s ability to block and catch a few passes might earn him a few more chances in certain formations than Williams. He could be a surprising contributor inside the red zone if he can show consistent ability to block as a rookie, which the Ravens will need behind Gillmore’s expanded role.