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Five Takeaways From The Ravens-Redskins' Preseason Opener

August 10, 2017
BALTIMORE -- The Ravens unveiled their 2017 team during the preseason opener against the Washington Redskins Aug. 10 in predictable fashion, with its revamped defense dominating and its patchwork offense struggling.

The Ravens held the Redskins without a first down on its first three series, but the first-team offense, which was missing quarterback Joe Flacco and several other projected starters, struggled to produce many highlights. Running back Terrance West ran for an early touchdown, and the Ravens' deep defense did the rest as Baltimore rolled to a 23-3 win before 70,469 at M&T Bank Stadium.

Here are five takeaways from the Ravens' preseason opener:  

1. Ryan Mallett didn't make anyone forget about Joe Flacco

Mallett did little to alleviate any concerns about Flacco's back injury that has sidelined him for all of training camp. The Ravens were hoping Mallett would show he is ready to lead this offense in Flacco's absence, but in the first quarter, Mallett finished 1-for-4 for minus-1 yard. He played the first half and finished 9-for-18 for 58 yards.

In Mallett's defense, the Ravens were playing without their top three wide receivers, as Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin sat this one out, and Breshad Perriman remains sidelined by a hamstring injury. The Ravens were also missing three projected starters on the offensive line. But Mallett frequently had enough time and too often threw off target. If the Ravens need him, he needs to be much better. 

"We still have a lot to work on, but it is training camp and the preseason," Mallett said. "The farther we go along, the better we will get."

2. The Ravens showed an early commitment to the run

The Ravens have vowed a renewed commitment to running the ball this year, and they showed that early against the Redskins, with 10 rushes and four passes in the first quarter when most starters were in the game. 

West broke off an 18-yard gain to set up his 2-yard touchdown run for the game's first score. West finished with five carries for 23 yards. Buck Allen, who has had a strong camp, was held to 21 yards eight carries. The Ravens didn't get a lot of traction with their run game at times, but they were missing three potential starters up front and at least they didn't abandon it right away, either. 

3. The Ravens' defense appears to be as advertised

Unlike the offense, which was missing a handful of starters, the entire Ravens projected starting defensive lineup suited up, and the Redskins accomplished virtually nothing. On their first three series, the Redskins failed to get a first down and netted a total of 0 yards in nine offensive plays. 

Anthony Levine, who played inside linebacker in place of Kamalei Correa on third-and-8 on the opening series, sacked Kirk Cousins for an 8-yard loss. On the Redskins' second series, the Ravens dropped running back Rob Kelley for a 4-yard loss on third-and-1. 

"It was fire. We went out there and set the tone," safety Tony Jefferson said, "and then the young guys came out and answered. They responded well to their opportunities."

4. The Ravens' defensive line is good and deep

The Ravens' defensive star of the game was defensive end Brent Urban, who played more than most starters and was in the Redskins' backfield on seemingly every play. Urban had four tackles, a sack and forced two fumbles.

"I was just trying to get off the ball, be physical and finish each play," he said. 

Urban, though, was not the only one wreaking havoc up front. Defensive tackle Michael Pierce stuffed Rob Kelley for a 4-yard loss on the Redskins' second series and finished with three tackles, and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi had a fourth-quarter sack and showed some range in disrupting the Redskins' offense as well. In the first half, the Redskins had 10 rushes for 10 yards. 

In the third quarter, undrafted rookie defensive lineman Patrick Ricard, who had rushed the quarterback, chased down Matt Jones 17 yards downfield to make the tackle from behind.

During the Ravens' practice at Navy Aug. 5, head coach John Harbaugh had said there wasn't one defensive lineman who wasn't playing very well, and they have kept that up. There will be tough roster decisions here. 

5. There were no significant injuries, which was the best news of all

Last season, tight end Ben Watson went down with a season-ending Achilles injury on the first play of the third preseason game. Watson, who is back practicing, sat out this game, as did many of the Ravens' other healthy veterans including Wallace, Maclin, and running back Danny Woodhead. 

Several other players, including Flacco, Perriman, Alex Lewis and first-round draft pick Marlon Humphrey were already hurt and sat this game out.

Still, one of the main objectives in any preseason game is to emerge without any significant injuries, and the Ravens accomplished that. 

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox