Football is back alright. Baltimore’s little known 3rd string Quarterback Bryn Renner plunged into the end zone with :02 seconds left to take the lead and the victory for the Ravens. Baltimore got up early, but trailed 27-23 in the waning moments of the game when Renner led them on a scoring drive to cap the game. Renner showed some nice athleticism on a naked bootleg to score the game winner. The North Carolina product is fighting to make the roster on a team that traditionally only carries two Quarterbacks on the roster. Luckily the Ravens escaped relatively unscathed after this game, with only minor injuries. Here are some major takeaways from last night’s contest:
1. The Preseason isn’t a joke. I was very impressed with both teams in this game, and it’s clear that the kids were playing to the end. The Preseason gets a bad rap, but these are valuable Pro Personnel evaluation opportunities and the players made it worth it last night. This was one of the more competitive preseason games I’ve seen in some time.
2. Depth at Runningback is no issue. Justin Forsett’s breakout season last year was certainly welcomed in the wake of the Ray Rice drama, however it’s uncommon that 29 year old backs stay good for too long. Last year Bernard Pierce was cut, and there were questions about depth, but last night both Lorenzo Taliaferro and Javorius “Buck” Allen played well.
3. The Defense Is Still good. In the 1st quarter, the Ravens jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and the defense looked stout in their brief playing time. Maybe most importantly, the defense’s key pieces are completely healthy thus far, which is huge. A defense with Suggs, Dumervil, Mosely, Hill, Timmy Jernigan Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith and Brandon Williams will be just fine as long as they can stay healthy.
4. 4 Tight Ends make impact. Although he didn’t last night, Dennis Pitta is expected to make it back to the field at some point this season, and it will be welcomed, but his production may not be missed. 2nd Round pick Maxx Williams, 5th rounder Nick Boyle and the returning Crockett Gilmore all looked solid hauling in passes last night. Tight Ends always make the QB’s job easier, and take pressure off of the run game.
5. Za’Darius Smith is ready. This may be early, but I wrote earlier this week that Smith was a player worth watching. The versatile and lanky defender has both the size and speed to give Offensive Lines issues as a rotational pass rusher. His first game provided 4 tackles, 2 hurries and a sack for the Kentucky product. I would expect the same to continue throughout the season. You only get one chance to make a first impression, Smith shined.
The Ravens play at Philadelphia next week. Expect the starters to play into the 2nd quarter, or even the whole first half.