The all important third week of the preseason is upon us, and the Baltimore Ravens will host the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium on ESPN. Today we will preview this AFC North vs NFC South matchup and what to expect.
Ok, so maybe the word important is a little strong, but the third preseason game is widely known as the closest to a real game the preseason has to offer.
Head coach John Harbaugh has once again not been willing to state just how long he plans to play his starters tomorrow, but it is likely that we will see the starters for at least the first half, and depending on how the game flows, perhaps into the second half.
"It is individualized, some starters could go into the second half and others may not play through the first half," Harbaugh said in his after practice press conference yesterday.
If the offense comes out on fire, it is certainly feasible that guys like Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Torrey Smith could take a seat before the end of the first half. On the flip side, if the offense continues to struggle, those guys could also see time in the second half.
We will get a chance to see this defense against a mobile quarterback in Carolina's Cam Newton, and will show us how the speed of this restructured defense stacks up. This 2013 Ravens defense is much faster than its 2012 counterpart, and tomorrow night will be the perfect time to display just how fast they can be. Do not get us wrong, Newton is certainly not Robert Griffin III or Colin Kapernick, but he is a mobile quarterback and gets outside of the pocket.
Baltimore's wide receiver competition is in full swing and over the last week of practice, we have seen practically every wide receiver on the roster getting snaps with the first team offense, including seventh round draft pick Aaron Mellette and undrafted free agent Marlon Brown. Tomorrow night will certainly go a long way to see which wide receivers can stake their claim to not only be considered for consistent playing time, but also to make the 53-man roster.
It is unclear how much playing time recently acquired WR Brandon Stokley and TE Dallas Clark will see, but it is almost a certainty that we will see them much more than we did last week, especially Clark, who now has some practice time under his belt with the Ravens offense. What Stokley and Clark will bring to this offense is yet to be seen, but we should get a better idea tomorrow night.
This will be the final home game at M&T Bank Stadium for the Ravens until week 2 of the regular season as their final preseason game is on the road as well as the season opener. Fans will be packing the house and ready to scream some Seven Nation Army as the Ravens look to continue their unbeaten preseason.
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