BALTIMORE -- In the first trial run of the 2019 season, the Ravens ran over the overmatched and short-handed Jacksonville Jaguars, 29-0, in the preseason opener at M&T Bank Stadium Aug. 8.
The Jaguars sat nearly all of their front-line starters, including quarterback Nick Foles, running back Leonard Fournette, linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and the Ravens sat running back Mark Ingram, guard Marshal Yanda and the entire starting secondary, among others.
But the fans, plenty of whom were wearing No. 8 jerseys, did get to see second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson in action for a quarter, and they saw plenty of other highlights, including an interception return touchdown by Baltimore native Cyrus Jones, promising plays from rookies Justice Hill and Miles Boykin and a 55-yard field goal from backup kicker Kaare Vedvik.
Here are five observations in the Ravens win, their 14th straight in preseason play (they have not lost a preseason game since 2015):
1. Lamar Jackson got a solid quarter's worth of work.
Unlike the Jaguars, who rested starting quarterback Nick Foles, the Ravens opted to start Jackson and he essentially played the entire first quarter. Coach John Harbaugh called it "an easy decision" to give his second-year quarterback some live action operating a new offense.
Jackson wasn't spectacular, but he did lead the Ravens to a field goal and a touchdown in three drives, with a three-and-out sandwiched in between. He finished 4-for-6 for 59 yards, and his best throw was a rollout, 26-yard strike to Chris Moore, who had two catches for 48 yards.
Jackson capped his last drive with a 10-yard touchdown throw to Willie Snead. There was a third-down throw slightly behind Miles Boykin, and Jackson didn't try to run at all, but the Ravens have to be encouraged by what they saw.
"I feel we did pretty well for the most part," Jackson said. "We got taken off the field one time, but came back, scored some points. We did pretty well."
2. This running game could wear teams down.
The Ravens' running game got off to a slow start, with 10 yards on the first seven carries, and they finished with 125 yards on 36 carries. Mark Ingram didn't even play, but watching Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon and Justice Hill, it's easy to envision the Ravens wearing down an exhausted defense with this group of running backs.
In the second quarter, Dixon broke off a 16-yard run, and he, Hill and Edwards all saw action during that series. The Ravens must love the idea of putting a rested, 238-pound Edwards and 300-pound fullback Patrick Ricard in the backfield on the 10th or 11th play of a drive against a tiring defense.
Hill finished with 10 carries for 33 yards, but his most impressive play might have been a simple swing pass out into the right flat, as he beat the defender to the edge and quickly turned upfield for a 14-yard gain. Hill didn't do much pass catching at Oklahoma State, but he showed an intriguing dimension on that play.
"As far as running backs nowadays, I do think you've got to have a stable of them," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said earlier this year. Led by Ingram, the Ravens appear to have a good stable of them.
3. Miles Boykin should be a factor.
The Ravens' third-round pick out of Notre Dame has been one of the most consistent receivers in training camp and he was a popular target against the Jaguars, finishing with four catches for 39 yards on a team-high nine targets. He also had a 17-yard touchdown pass from Trace McSorley called back.
Perhaps the most impressive play he made was a third-and-7 completion from McSorley early in the second quarter. Boykin caught the ball in traffic, muscled his way against the defender and reached the ball out beyond the first-down marker, showing excellent situational awareness.
Boykin dropped a couple of catchable balls and said afterward that, "I got to be better. ... I left a couple of plays out there." But his size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and usually reliable hands should make him a popular target this year.
4. Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser answered the challenge.
Defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who works with the edge rushers, didn't leave any doubt about the urgency facing third-year linebackers Williams and Bowser this preseason. "The clock has ticked," Cullen said, "and it's ready to explode. They have to do it in these games."
Both were active when they were involved. Williams was credited with three tackles and a half-sack, and with Pernell McPhee sitting out, Williams saw some first-down snaps, giving the Ravens a chance to see if he can set the edge against the run.
Bowser, who had a pick-six in practice earlier this week and has come on strong of late, had one tackle, a half-sack and a quarterback hit. It's also worth noting that Bowser ran with the first kickoff coverage team, and that special teams contribution helps his roster status.
"I thought they did a good job," Harbaugh said. "We were physical off the edges. I'm looking forward to seeing the tape and see the little things about it, but it seemed from top to bottom all the pass rushers did a nice job."
5. Patrick Ricard's two-way ability is valuable with tough roster calls looming.
Playing fullback at times and defensive tackle at times, Patrick Ricard was one of the standouts for the Ravens this week, an old-school, two-way player who pounded the Jaguars on both sides of the ball in the joint practices and again in the game.
In the second quarter, Ricard's block helped spring Kenneth Dixon on a 16-yard run. Then playing defense in the third quarter, he was involved in a pair of back-to-back sacks in one sequence and sacked quarterback Tanner Lee later. He finished with four tackles, two sacks and three quarterback hits, this after he was a battering ram in goal-line drills against the Jaguars on the practice field.
The Ravens will have to make some tough calls to get down to a 53-man roster. Ricard's ability to play both fullback and defensive lineman could allow the Ravens to keep an additional player elsewhere.
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