As is customary here at Ravens101, the day before gameday's we go over the five key Baltimore Ravens to watch against this week's opponent, and on gameday we will give you the five key matchups to watch for. So who are this week's five Ravens to watch as Baltimore tries to improve to 2-1 on the season as they welcome back both Ed Reed and Ray Lewis to M&T Bank Stadium.
This is going to be quite a battle, and although the Houston Texans have never won at the Bank, not many people out there are giving the Ravens a promising chance at winning this game. It will be an emotional game nonetheless for Ravens fans the team is set to honor Ray Lewis by inducting him into the Ring of Honor, as well as welcoming Ed Reed back for the first time as an opponent.
Let's get to it, here are the five key Baltimore Ravens to watch against the Texans.
Yes, Smith has almost become a regular on this list, but this time it will be of utmost importance as he is coming off of a much improved week two performance against the Cleveland Browns. Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson is expected to play tomorrow and thus their one-two punch of Johnson and rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will both be in action. Smith will spend most, if not all day on one of these two guys, and if Baltimore is going to slow these two down, Smith is going to have to play very well. Johnson and Hopkins have combined for 32 catches and 405 receiving yards over the first two weeks.
It should come as no surprise to see Pierce on this list with the fact that Ray Rice (hip) is considered doubtful for tomorrow's game. Pierce is a pounding running back that can wear a defense down, but with Pierce being the feature back with only Shaun Draughn behind him, Pierce's conditioning will be put to the test tomorrow. His ability to carry to football efficiently tomorrow will go a long way in helping the passing game with the play action. With the Ravens passing offense, there is little question that Baltimore is going to have to be balanced in running and passing the football and use the play action to their advantage.
Two weeks, two touchdowns, can he really keep that pace up? Probably not, but he has certainly been a shot in the arm for this Ravens passing offense these past two weeks. Browns had caught at least four passes and recorded a touchdown in both games this season. Unquestionably the second wide out for the Ravens, Brown will have to continue to supply a go-to option for quarterback Joe Flacco in order for opposing defenses to not elect to completely shutdown Torrey Smith.
Dickson and the tight end position as a whole, have to step up for Baltimore and they need to do it as soon as possible. The tight ends have pretty much been non existent for the Ravens thus far this season and it is due to the dropped pass. Dickson has repeatedly dropped the ball so far this season and his inability to reel in those grabs over the middle have handicapped this offense. Ed is going to have to step up and begin to secure passes from Flacco if this offense wants to show its' full potential.
The first round draft pick cracked the starting lineup in week two and performed very well. Elam, who many felt would eventually start for this defense has continued to impress. This week he is a player to watch as his play is going to go a long way in determining how successful the Texans offense will be. Elam could find himself covering TE Owen Daniels some, up at the line of scrimmage to try and help keep RB Arian Foster at bay, or covering deep zone where Johnson and Hopkins could be roaming around. Elam's performance is as close to anyone's on the field who could be seen as a barometer of the game's result.
Those are our five key Ravens to watch in tomorrow's matchup with the Texans, what do you think? Did we leave someone off that should have been on the list? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment!
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