The City of Baltimore will finally get their first in person look at their defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens as they will play their preseason home opener tonight against the Atlanta Falcons. There are some interesting and key players for fans to watch for tonight in the Ravens second preseason game.
First off, fans can expect to see the starters play a little bit longer tonight than last week, but it will still be doubtful that most of them will play the entire first half, but should play into the second quarter.
Now, let's take a look at five key players that we should be watching tonight as roster battles heat up and decision time gets closer.
Coming into this season, many felt that the time was now for Smith to prove he was worth the first round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, and the heat is on him. Smith has been OK so far in training camp, but has honestly been outplayed by Corey Graham, so tonight gives Smith a chance against a pretty potent offense to show that he is worthy of the starting spot so many were willing to give him this season with the departure of Cary Williams this offseason.
The wide receiver battle has gotten most of the attention during training camp, but the best position battle going right now in Baltimore is for the starting center position. Gino Gradkowski started the preseason opener, but Shipley gets the starting nod tonight with a chance to show how well he can do with most of the starting offensive line and quarterback Joe Flacco behind him. This position battle will go on throughout training camp, but tonight provides Shipley with a golden opportunity to take the lead halfway through.
The story of the first preseason game was the impressive play of WR LaQuan Williams both on the offense and the special teams unit. Williams is battling for a roster spot on this team and tonight he will have to show that last week was not just a flash in the pan and that he can be a legitimate player on this team come the regular season. Although there are some spots open at wide receiver, his best chance to make the team may be as a special teams player.
Billy Bajema and Visanthe Shiancoe
With the recent signing of veteran tight end Dallas Clark, Bajema and Shiancoe, and rookie TE Matt Furstenburg are now battling for the third tight end spot as it is basically a given that Clark and Dickson own the one and two spots, Bajema and Shiancoe will need to prove they are worth keeping on the roster for the regular season. Shiancoe has the inside track so far as he has played pretty well. Bajema has his work cut out for him, even though he was the third tight end on this team last season. The play of the tight ends tonight will go a long way in filling out the depth chart with neither Clark or Dickson playing.
Many were expecting for Doss to burst onto the scene this year with so much playing time perceivably available at the wide receiver position, but with the recent signing of Brandon Stokley, Doss now finds himself in a position where he needs to prove himself. Doss' play has been pretty mediocre at best thus far, and tonight provides him with an opportunity to show that he can be a viable option in the slot for this Ravens offense.
M&T Bank Stadium will still be rocking even though it is just a preseason game, and we can't wait to hear Seven Nation Army ring through the best stadium in the NFL!
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