OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As expected the Ravens will give starters their most extensive action of the preseason on Thursday night as they welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars to M&T Bank Stadium.
Like the first two preseason games, some starters will play deeper into the game than others, but coach John Harbaugh said his starting units are set to play the first three quarters of the game. Of course, the number of plays each unit runs could alter the timetable for removing starters from action.
“I think we’ll see. It’s going to be like the third-game format, which is usually a three-quarter format,” Harbaugh said. “And then we’ll kind of just work back from there with guys as far as how many reps they’ll get and see how it goes. We’d like to see them get a lot of good extended work.”
For veterans such as inside linebacker Ray Lewis, the third preseason game is as close as it gets to really getting geared up for extensive action with the 2012 season opener less than three weeks away. Veterans view it as a time for fine-tuning while rookies and fringe players will be fighting for their lives with the first round of cuts set to take place on Monday when the coaching staff will trim the preseason roster from 90 to 75 players.
The Ravens would like to see the starting offensive line come together to build continuity in time for the regular season while the Baltimore defense will continue to work on its communication with several starting positions still up for grabs.
“I think it’s a good chance for the starters to really start communicating with each other now,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “[You] really start dialing it in and getting ready for the regular season.”
As for what we can expect to see in terms of looks and play calls, Harbaugh reiterated the Ravens do not game-plan for preseason opponents and they expect to keep things simple like they did in the first two games this month.
The pass coverage in Friday’s contest against the Detroit Lions was a topic of discussion on Monday as Harbaugh reminded observers that the Ravens did not roll any coverage over top of Pro Bowl receiver Calvin Johnson as he finished the night with five catches for 111 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s still preseason,” Harbaugh said. “We’re not getting too complicated with what we do. We’re just kind of running our base defense against all four of these [preseason opponents].”