It is widely known that the third preseason game is often the closest it gets to being an actual game in regards to the amount of time the starters play. Tonight the Baltimore Ravens will host the Carolina Panthers in their third preseason game and here are the five players to watch for.
Tonight will provide Ravens fans and coaches with their first glimpse of what the veteran tight end can bring to this Baltimore offense and Joe Flacco. Clark has plenty of experience and has been a high producer in his career, which is exactly what the Ravens are hoping he can do for them this season with the loss of Dennis Pitta. We will see Clark line up in a variety of different ways, whether it be split out wide, in the slot, on the line or even in the backfield as an extra pass blocker.
This week Mellette has began to see some time with the first team offense as Head Coach John Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell look for one of these vast amount of wide receivers to step up and show that they can contribute to this offense. Mellette has looked good in practice and this preseason and in his time with the first team offense this week he has seemed to work with Flacco pretty well. Tonight will provide him with a golden opportunity to prove he can be one of the answers at the wide receiver position.
The former first round pick has struggled in his time here in Baltimore and fans are beginning to get a little hostile with him. Smith got burnt several times in last week's preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons, including one for a touchdown. If Smith does not begin to show that he can cover wide outs on a more consistent basis, he may find himself out of a starting job because Corey Graham has been playing very well.
Also in the wide receiver conundrum is the recently acquired veteran Stokley. He played a little bit last week, but this week will be the first full blown preseason game for Brandon with Baltimore in 2013. Although not expected to be a Pro Bowl caliber receiver, the Ravens are hoping that he can fill the huge void left in the slot position with both Anquan Boldin and PItta not being options.
Webb makes the list, but with a question mark. Harbaugh has been uncommitted to whether or not Webb will play tonight, so he is "questionable" to play. If he does play, Webb will probably be the most important player to watch as it will be his first game action since tearing his ACL last season and it will be important to see that he still has the same speed, quickness and agility that he had before the injury. This team let Cary Williams walk this offseason because they were confident in Webb's ability to recover from the injury and be the number one cornerback that he was.
Overall, the important thing to watch for tonight is whether or not the Ravens offense can show any type of rhythm on the field. Over the first two games the offensive starters have not performed very well and have seemed out of sync. The defense will be better this season, but they are not going to be so good that the offense can produce 13 points a game and expect to win. Baltimore's offense will have to instill some confidence in Ravens fans tonight as we are not likely to see much of them in the fourth preseason game before the regular season opens up on September 5th in Denver.
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