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Five Takeaways From The Ravens-Rams Preseason Game

August 9, 2018
BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens' home crowd got its first look at the Ravens' new receiver corps and dynamic rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, and the Ravens delivered a 33-7 rout of the Los Angeles Rams at M&T Bank Stadium on Aug. 9. 

The Ravens' defense, meanwhile, totally overmatched a Rams team that sat most of its starters during their preseason opener. 

Here are five quick observations on the game for the Ravens, who move to 2-0 this preseason:

1. The Ravens' revamped receiver corps made its presence felt.
 
It didn't take long for the Ravens' overhauled receiver corps to assert itself. During the opening series of the game, first-round tight end Hayden Hurst and receiver John Brown caught passes across the middle, and quarterback Joe Flacco hit receiver Michael Crabtree for 30 yards after scrambling out of trouble.

Those three plays netted 59 of the 77 yards the Ravens compiled during their opening scoring drive, which ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to fullback/defensive tackle Patrick Ricard. It's a small sample size to be sure, and it came against Rams' backups, but it was encouraging. 

Flacco and the majority of the Ravens starters played just that one series, but the Ravens saw what they needed to see. Flacco (5-for-7, 71 yards) was accurate and mobile, scrambling to create time on the 30-yard pass to Crabtree and also running for 3 yards before sliding. That Flacco was on the field at all is a step ahead of last year, when he missed all of training camp with a back injury.

"Our guys are really showing up," Flacco said. "We've had a great camp, and it was good to come out here and see it carry over into a game."

2. Jackson took a step forward. 

Jackson, who took over on the second series of the game and played into the third quarter, looked more comfortable during his second game and flashed all the athleticism that makes him such a dynamic weapon. That was never more apparent than on his 9-yard touchdown run, when Jackson scrambled and then practically juked Rams cornerback Troy Hill out of his shoes with a fake to the outside and then a cutback inside for the score.

Jackson showed he still needs work as a passer, finishing 7-for-18 for 119 yards and a passer rating of 62.0, and he had to use a couple of timeouts to get the offense organized. Still, it was forward progress for him. 

3. Relegated to a backup of the backups, receiver Breshad Perriman responded. 

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman spent the first half on the sideline with his helmet in his hands, watching seven other receivers get involved in the offense. Perriman finally got into the game in the third quarter, catching a 19-yard pass from Robert Griffin III. Late in the fourth quarter, Perriman hauled in a tough, 32-yard touchdown catch from Griffin, the kind of contested catch Perriman has not made nearly enough during his four-year Ravens career. He finished with three catches for 71 yards.

"I still want more for myself. That was just a taste because I know what I can do," Perriman said.

The receiver competition still has some intrigue outside the top four of Crabtree, Brown, Willie Snead and Chris Moore, with rookie draft picks Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott and returners Janarion Grant and Tim White in the mix. Perriman, the former first-round pick who received a $650,000 roster bonus in July, appears to have tumbled toward the bottom of the depth chart. 

"I just worry about me and myself for the most part," Perriman said. "I know if I just focus on me and my game and play [to] my ability ... I won't really have no worries."

When receivers coach Bobby Engram was asked last week what Perriman could do to help his cause, Engram replied, "make plays in the game." Perriman, for one night at least, did that. 

"He's taken a lot of heat. He's a young guy, he's a good person, he works very hard, and he's been under siege a little bit, and that's part of it," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of Perriman. "He understand that as much as anybody, but I think he deserves a lot of credit for the way he's handled it."

4. There were encouraging signs on defense, especially on the edge.

It's hard to read too much into the Ravens' defensive performance given the Rams sat starting quarterback Jared Goff as well as the team's top receivers. The Rams' offense looked dynamic and created problems for the Ravens during joint practices this week. But Los Angeles backup quarterback Sean Mannion and his cast of reserves had no such luck. Mannion finished 3-for-13 for 16 yards and a rating of 7.5 during a first half in which he looked overmatched.

Among the Ravens; first-half highlights were a sack by linebacker Matthew Judon, a strip-sack by linebacker Terrell Suggs and a leaping interception by cornerback Maurice Canady. During the second half, linebacker Tim Williams continued his strong week when he hammered third-string quarterback Brandon Allen and forced a fumble, leading to a field goal by the Ravens.

Earlier this week, defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale said of Williams, "I think he's rushing better now that I've ever seen him rush. … He's becoming the player we thought he was going to be."

5. The right tackle job is Orlando Brown Jr.'s to lose. 

The Ravens want to see whether Brown is up to the task of being the team's starting right tackle as a rookie, and the third-round pick out of Oklahoma is getting every chance to prove it while adjusting to NFL game speed. Brown played a team-high 60 snaps during the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, and was called "a bright spot" on the offensive line during that game by Harbaugh.

Then against the Rams, while every other offensive starter called it quits early, Brown played into the third quarter again. 

"Obviously, there's some things that he can work on, but you can't ignore that he's got ability," Flacco said of Brown. "He's just so big and he swallows people up. He has natural ability to play the position."

The Ravens' offensive line is still in a state of flux since Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda is working back to game action after offseason shoulder surgery, but the Ravens are getting a long look at Brown in game situations this preseason, which is exactly what they wanted. At this point, it is looking more and more like the right tackle job will be Brown's. 

Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka 

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox