Although there is no game-plan in preseason football, especially in the final week, it is a time of evaluation for several players looking to make the squad. Here are my five most intriguing players to watch this week against the St. Louis Rams.
This is the deepest the Ravens receiving corps has been in years and this undrafted free agent has been a welcome addition. Throughout his career at Florida, he never fulfilled the expectations placed on him. However, since he’s been with the Ravens, he’s been a pleasant surprise that the Ravens maybe didn’t realize they were getting. A receiver that has displayed fairly exceptional hands, outstanding speed and an ability to return kickoffs and punts. Thompson is one of seven receivers I would say that have a serious chance of making the team and one of the biggest concerns he has to have in regards to his status with the team is that he wasn’t drafted, as opposed to Tommy Streeter. He has performed well in all three preseason games and if he performs in this game against the Rams, where the backups generally garner more playing time, it will be interesting to see come the final cut day if the Ravens give him the chance of a lifetime.
The fourth-round pick from South Carolina State hasn’t showed me a lot of incredible plays so far throughout the preseason. He has made some impressive hits, but nothing that has allowed him to stand out from the other defensive backs in the secondary. Will he make an impact in this game?
Coming from an FCS school, I figured he would come into this year somewhat raw with ball-hawking skills that needed to be polished. With a safety unit that just lost Emmanuel Cook for the season and Sean Considine dinged up with a concussion, it will be up to Thompson to not only provide more depth for the safety position, but also to ensure his spot on the roster.
As of now, Upshaw hasn’t lived up to expectations. He has looked slow, not as explosive on the pass rush and his run stopping ability has been fairly average.
The Ravens didn’t draft this guy to be average, he was drafted with expectations that he would be great.
When I’ve seen him at training camp, he reminded me of a Cory Redding/ Trevor Pryce type of defensive end, more straight-ahead pass rushers. Maybe it was because he came into camp a little heavier than his playing days at Alabama. Whatever the reason, Upshaw has not looked like that hybrid player the team thought they drafted in April.
Upshaw has more of an uphill battle than even he thought he was going to have with Albert McClellan at the outside linebacker spot. He has to show the explosiveness he displayed at Alabama or else he may not see the amount of reps most fans thought he was going to get in his rookie year.
Early signs show that Upshaw’s impact may not be as immediate, hence why he fell to the second round. It isn’t fair to him to expect him to be Terrell Suggs because Suggs is a world-class player that comes along once in a lifetime.
Can Upshaw be that type of player? Absolutely.
Is it too soon to expect him to be that player now? Possibly.
He finally tallied a sack last game and it will be interesting to see what he brings to the table on Thursday.