Ravens-Eagles Preseason Primer: What to watch in tonight’s opener

August 10, 2011 | Luke Jones

2. RT Jah Reid – With Marshal Yanda being shifted back to right guard, the Ravens are strongly considering the third-round pick at the right tackle position. Reid is a genetic freak at 6-foot-7 and 335 pounds and has looked comfortable throughout the first two weeks of camp. Assuming the Ravens don’t acquire a veteran tackle, Reid will battle fourth-year veteran Oniel Cousins in the preseason for the starting job, but the organization has been underwhelmed with Cousins to this point in his career.

3. WR Torrey Smith – A feel-good story from the University of Maryland, Smith’s projected role — as well as that of fellow rookie Tandon Doss — changed dramatically with Mason’s release. Smith possesses excellent speed and has made a number of spectacular catches despite battling a hamstring issue in the early stages of camp. The Ravens will count on the six-foot receiver to stretch the field. Smith has worked to be more crisp in running routes and still has a habit of catching passes with his pads from time to time, but he and Doss have both been impressive in practice.

4. OLB Sergio Kindle – The second-year linebacker may be the biggest wildcard on the defensive side of the football in 2011. After a fall down two flights of stairs nearly took his life and wiped out his rookie season, Kindle has practiced with no limitations and looks exactly like the big, fast linebacker the Ravens saw when they drafted him in the second round a year ago. He will be used in pass-rush situations and will receive plenty of time with the second defense. Kindle uses his speed off the edge when putting his hand on the ground, a talent the Ravens need to alleviate attention on Suggs. Regardless of how Kindle looks, his health will remain a major question mark, making him difficult to definitively count on.

5. DL Arthur Jones – One of the bigger surprises in camp, Jones has begun working more at defensive end in the Ravens’ 3-4 front after working exclusively inside during his rookie season. Splitting time with Cory Redding in work with the first unit, Jones plays the run well and is an impressive athlete at 313 pounds. His versatility is a major asset to the defensive line, so Jones figures to play a far bigger role in the defense after being active in only two games in 2010.

6. QB Tyrod Taylor – The rookie from Virginia Tech is scheduled to play 2 1/2 quarters against the Eagles, giving Ozzie Newsome and the front office a chance to evaluate how feasible it is to count on the 6-foot-1 Taylor as the possible backup. Given how cap-strapped the team is, Newsome could elect to spend money elsewhere with the rationale that a long-term injury to Flacco would likely sink the Ravens, whether it’s Taylor or a journeyman veteran as the backup. Taylor displays a strong arm and excellent athleticism, but his height will be a major question mark moving forward — regardless of how he fares against the Eagles.

7. WR LaQuan Williams – The former special teams standout at Maryland has been far more impressive as a receiver than anyone expected heading into training camp, making himself a good candidate for the practice squad. However, given the injury status of David Reed and Hardy and the underwhelming track records of both Marcus Smith and Justin Harper, a strong preseason would make Williams an intriguing underdog to crack the 53-man roster. His moxie on special teams — he and Torrey Smith have worked as the gunners on the punt team — makes him an even more attractive option if he can perform in preseason games.

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