Tag Archive | "Bobby Rainey"

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 14-13 win over New Orleans

Posted on 01 September 2017 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens concluding a 4-0 preseason with a 14-13 win over New Orleans, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Ryan Mallett playing in the exhibition finale can be taken as a good sign regarding Joe Flacco’s status, but it also reflects how disappointing his play was this summer that the coaching staff wanted to see him take more snaps after starting the first three preseason games.

2. Receiving his only extensive action of the preseason, Marlon Humphrey was strong in run support and showed the signs of why he’s a first-round talent. He was flagged twice, but that many live-game reps were valuable for the 21-year-old cornerback going into the regular season.

3. Chris Moore caught a 1-yard touchdown, but seeing him on the field in the fourth quarter of the final preseason game says a lot about his status. Even with Breshad Perriman missing a month, the second-year receiver did little to establish himself as a trustworthy option in the passing game.

4. It was a disappointing summer for the entire batch of young receivers behind veterans Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin. Yes, the quarterback play was poor, but this group got very little separation in routes, something Brian Billick observed repeatedly in Thursday’s telecast.

5. Carl Davis has been identified as a bubble player because of the depth on the defensive line, but he did everything he could to put that discussion to rest. His interception showed off his athleticism, and he was disruptive at the line of scrimmage.

6. Willie Henry also applied pressure in the pocket with three quarterback hits, but he committed his fifth penalty of the preseason. His talent makes him worthy of the 53-man roster, but that lack of discipline quickly lands you in the coaching staff’s doghouse.

7. With Albert McClellan suffering a season-ending knee injury last week, Bam Bradley had a great opportunity to state his case for a roster spot and responded with five defensive tackles and three special-teams stops. The Ravens could use a veteran inside backer for depth, but Bradley has impressed.

8. So many are rooting for Keenan Reynolds to play in the NFL, but his fumbled punt return was disappointing to see. Perhaps he’ll be invited back to the practice squad for another season, but I’m just not seeing it with the former Navy quarterback. I hope I’m wrong.

9. Tim Williams didn’t register a tackle or a sack, but you could again see how disruptive he can be as a pass rusher. His limitations as a special-teams player could hinder his game-day status to start the season, but the potential is there coming off the edge.

10. The top three are set, but the remaining short-term cornerback depth suddenly looks shaky with Sheldon Price sustaining a concussion Thursday and Jaylen Hill and Robertson Daniel apparently banged up as well. Brandon Boykin also missed the final three preseason games.

11. Bobby Rainey had a strong night running the football, but the veteran’s playing time throughout the summer doesn’t suggest he’s even on the bubble. At least he comes away with some solid tape for other teams to consider after cut-down day.

12. I had to chuckle when John Harbaugh started walking toward the center of the field after Saints kicker Wil Lutz missed a 59-yard field goal try and then realized there were still 13 seconds remaining. I can hardly blame the head coach for wanting fake football season to be over.

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Ravens running back Dixon could miss season with meniscus injury

Posted on 25 July 2017 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 7:25 p.m.)

The Ravens won’t hold their first full-squad practice until Thursday, but they’re already dealing with another major injury.

According to NFL Network, second-year running back Kenneth Dixon could miss the entire 2017 season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, which usually requires four to five months for recovery. The Ravens had hoped that Dixon’s meniscus would only need to be trimmed, which would have meant a much shorter recovery time.

Dixon was already set to serve a four-game suspension to begin the regular season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy — he would still serve that ban without pay if on injured reserve — but his long-term absence leaves the Ravens thin at the running back position. According to The Sun, Baltimore is trying to sign veteran Bobby Rainey — who began his NFL career with the Ravens in 2012 — to the 90-man roster.

Former Towson star Terrance West is expected to be the starter after rushing for 774 yards and five touchdowns in his first full season with the Ravens in 2016. Veteran newcomer Danny Woodhead will serve as the third-down back and primary receiver out of the backfield, but Dixon represented the most upside of any running back on the roster, making this a substantial loss.

Former fourth-round pick Buck Allen will also figure to have more opportunities after a disappointing 2016 season. The Ravens have already moved 2014 fourth-rounder Lorenzo Taliaferro to fullback, but he could also factor into the run-game equation if healthy.

Dixon missed the first four games of the 2016 season after suffering an MCL sprain in his left knee in the preseason, but he returned to average 4.3 yards per carry as a rookie and ranked 11th in yards after contact per carry among 53 running backs with at least 80 carries, according to Pro Football Focus.

He is the third substantial loss the Ravens have sustained on the offensive side of the ball since spring as tight end Dennis Pitta was released after suffering the third major hip injury of his career and third-year tight end Darren Waller was suspended for the entire season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Second-year cornerback Tavon Young sustained a torn ACL on June 1 and is also expected to miss the entire season.

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Looking at former Ravens set to hit free agency

Posted on 12 February 2016 by Luke Jones

The start of NFL free agency is less than a month away.

This is the time of year when teams not only look at their own free agents, but they start to explore who else might become available. A full list was comprised by Pro Football Talk that included more than a few familiar names who could spark discussion among Ravens fans about a potential return.

Below is a look at ex-Ravens set to officially hit the open market on March 9:

OLB Jason Babin
2015 team: Arizona
Ravens-related thought: It’s tough to recall many players who received as much attention and produced as little as Babin did for the Ravens as he failed to register a defensive statistic in two October games.

WR Anquan Boldin
2015 team: San Francisco
Ravens-related thought: No, the Ravens shouldn’t bring back the 35-year-old as Kamar Aiken fits that skill set, but trading Boldin in 2013 was still one of Ozzie Newsome’s worst decisions in recent memory.

G Chris Chester
2015 team: Atlanta
Ravens-related thought: The 2006 second-round pick was disappointing in his first couple seasons in Baltimore, but he’s carved out a really nice career that includes 127 starts over a decade in the NFL.

C Gino Gradkowski
2015 team: Atlanta
Ravens-related thought: Denver cut him at the end of the summer and Gradkowski played in just three games this season, putting his career at a crossroads after struggling as a starter in Baltimore in 2013.

K Shayne Graham
2015 team: Atlanta
Ravens-related thought: Many fans forget that the Ravens signed the veteran to fill in for an ailing Billy Cundiff late in the 2011 regular season, just a few weeks before “you know what” happened.

SS James Ihedigbo
2015 team: Detroit
Ravens-related thought: If the Ravens had known Matt Elam would be such a disappointment, they likely would have kept Ihedigbo after his strong 2013 season, but Will Hill now plays the same position.

ILB Rolando McClain
2015 team: Dallas
Ravens-related thought: Inside linebacker is a potential need depending on what happens with veteran Daryl Smith, but Baltimore can’t be foolish enough to venture down this road again, right?

DT Haloti Ngata
2015 team: Detroit
Ravens-related thought: It will be interesting to see what market exists for an accomplished 32-year-old defensive tackle, but a reunion seems unlikely unless Ngata is willing to take a very team-friendly deal.

RB Bernard Pierce
2015 team: Jacksonville
Ravens-related thought: It’s hard to believe how quickly Pierce flamed out after averaging 4.9 yards per carry in his rookie season and being on the verge of threatening Ray Rice for the starting job.

RB Bobby Rainey
2015 team: Tampa Bay
Ravens-related thought: The undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky was a good story a few years ago, but he fell out of the Buccaneers’ backfield picture and the Ravens are set at the position.

RS Jeremy Ross (restricted)
2015 team: Oakland
Ravens-related thought: You can’t last as a return specialist in the NFL if you can’t secure the football, a lesson Ross learned with the Ravens as well as with a few other teams in his career.

CB Cassius Vaughn
2015 team: San Diego
Ravens-related thought: The veteran corner had two different stints with the Ravens in 2015, but it would be difficiult to view him as anything more than offseason roster depth at this point.

CB Cary Williams
2015 team: Washington
Ravens-related thought: Williams was better than some want to give him credit for during his time in Baltimore, but his struggles in Seattle last year will dim interest for his services this offseason.

CB Josh Wilson
2015 team: Detroit
Ravens-related thought: The former Terp will be 31 next month and played well for the Ravens in 2010, but his career appears to be winding down after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in November.

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Ravens waive WR Williams, begin forming practice squad

Posted on 01 September 2013 by Luke Jones

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens were back on the practice field Sunday after formulating their 53-man roster but already made a notable change to the group traveling to Denver to take on the Broncos in Thursday’s opener.

Third-year wide receiver LaQuan Williams was waived after initially making the 53-man roster on Saturday. He suffered a hamstring injury early in the final preseason game and wasn’t present for practice Sunday before the Ravens announced the roster move. The Ravens designated Williams as waived-injured in the official transaction, meaning he will receive an injury settlement from the organization.

In two seasons with the Ravens, the Poly graduate and Baltimore native caught four passes for 48 yards and appeared in 23 games primarily as a special-teams contributor. Originally an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maryland in 2011, Williams was one of the feel-good stories of the last few years as a local product getting to play for the team he grew up rooting for.

As for Sunday’s practice, defensive linemen Arthur Jones (personal health issue) and Brandon Williams (undisclosed), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), and tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) were all absent during the portion of practice open to the media. Jensen and Pitta remain on the 53-man roster despite rehabbing from long-term injuries.

Jones hasn’t practiced since the third preseason game, which is concerning with him being a starting defensive tackle throughout the preseason. Coach John Harbaugh said last week that the “personal health thing” was not serious but declined to reveal any other details.

The good news for the Baltimore front seven was the return of pass-rush specialist Pernell McPhee to the practice field for the first time in nearly two weeks. McPhee had been dealing with a knee injury that forced him out of the final two preseason games of the summer.

The first injury report of the week will not be released until Monday.

Baltimore also announced the signing of seven players to its practice squad as tight end Matt Furstenburg, safety Omar Brown, offensive linemen Reggie Stephens, Jordan Devey, and J.J. Unga, defensive lineman Cody Larsen, and linebacker Brandon Copeland are all rejoining the organization after being waived at the end of the preseason. This was by design, according to Harbaugh.

“We’re really hopeful that that’s the case,” Harbaugh said before the signings were announced. “We would like for all the guys, as much as possible, on the practice squad to be guys who were here with us [in the summer].”

The practice-squad players received a slow clap from the players on the regular roster as they jogged onto the practice field as Harbaugh shouted, “Congratulations! Now, get your butts out here!”

The Ravens had one spot remaining Sunday afternoon after they learned running back Bobby Rainey was claimed by the Cleveland Browns. The organization had hoped to re-sign him to the developmental squad after a good preseason.

Former Ravens receiver Tommy Streeter was also picked up by the Buffalo Bills to join their practice squad after he was waived last Sunday.

 

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Ravens cut Doss, seven others to get roster down to 53

Posted on 31 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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The Ravens started Saturday with 63 players on their roster and wasted no time working to get down to the NFL-mandated 53 by 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Wide receiver Tandon Doss headlined a list of cuts that included tight ends Matt Furstenburg and Billy Bajema, running back Bobby Rainey, defensive lineman Cody Larsen,offensive linemen J.J. Unga and Antoine McClain, and safety Omar Brown.

A fourth-round pick in the 2011 draft, Doss was expected to play a larger role in the passing game following the offseason trade of Anquan Boldin, but the third-year wideout struggled with consistency in both practices and preseason games. His five-catch, 75-yard performance in the preseason finale against St. Louis apparently wasn’t enough to change the Ravens’ minds about his roster fate.

The decision to jettison Doss left roster space for third-year wide receiver LaQuan Williams, who has consistency issues of his own but is a more versatile special-teams player than Doss. On Friday, head coach John Harbaugh painted a positive picture for the chances of rookies Marlon Brown and Aaron Mellette to make the 53-man roster and the departure of Doss only confirmed that.

Parting ways with both Furstenburg and Bajema as well as Rainey was surprising in that it leaves the Ravens with just two healthy tight ends and two running backs on their 53-man roster, which would be unusual for most NFL rosters. However, backup fullback Kyle Juszczyk could be viewed as the third-string option at each position should the Ravens elect to stay with that roster breakdown.

Last season, third-string running back Anthony Allen had 16 carries while Bajema made zero receptions as the Ravens’ No. 3 tight end. It reflects the reality of those final spots on the 53-man roster being much more about special-teams contributions than positional depth.

After deciding to cut Brown, the Ravens kept five safeties with Anthony Levine and Brynden Trawick backing up the trio of Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo, and first-round pick Matt Elam. Baltimore only has four active cornerbacks on the roster at the moment, so the decision to carry five safeties eases depth concerns in the secondary since Huff has experience playing corner in the NFL. Trawick blocked a punt in the preseason opener and played well in the fourth exhibition game, but he was considered by most pundits to be trailing both Brown and Levine in the hunt for a roster spot.

With defensive backs Asa Jackson and Christian Thompson both beginning the season on the reserve-suspended list, the Ravens now have 53 active players on their roster. However, offensive lineman Ryan Jensen remains on the roster for now despite breaking his foot early in training camp. He has long been considered a candidate for injured reserve and could easily be placed there should general manager Ozzie Newsome claim another player off waivers as early as Sunday.

Further complicating the roster picture is tight end Dennis Pitta, who cannot be placed on the injured reserve-designated to return list until Tuesday. This essentially means the Ravens had to cut their roster to 52 healthy players, but it could open the door for either Bajema or Furstenburg to be re-signed if they don’t catch on elsewhere.

All but one of the Ravens’ 10 selections in the 2013 draft survived final cut-down day with only seventh-round cornerback Marc Anthony being let go. Sixth-round defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore was placed on the non-football injury list last week as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL suffered in January.

Anthony was the organization’s first draft pick to be cut in the same year he was selected since 2009 when fifth-round tight end Davon Drew and sixth-round running back Cedric Peerman were both waived.

Here’s the official look at the 53-man roster and corresponding moves as of Saturday’s 6 p.m. deadline:

QB: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor
RB: Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce
FB: Vonta Leach, Kyle Juszczyk
TE: Ed Dickson, Dallas Clark, *Dennis Pitta
WR: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Brandon Stokley, Marlon Brown, Deonte Thompson, Aaron Mellette, LaQuan Williams
OL: Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele, Gino Gradkowski, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, A.Q. Shipley, Jah Reid, Rick Wagner, Ryan Jensen (injured)

DL: Haloti Ngata, Chris Canty, Arthur Jones, Marcus Spears, Brandon Williams, Terrence Cody, DeAngelo Tyson
OLB: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Pernell McPhee, John Simon
ILB: Daryl Smith, Josh Bynes, Arthur Brown, Albert McClellan
CB: Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham, Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown
S: Michael Huff, James Ihedigbo, Matt Elam, Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick

Specialists: Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox

*Pitta may be placed on injured reserve-designated to return on Tuesday afternoon.
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Injured-reserve: Adrian Hamilton, D.J. Bryant
Reserve-suspended: Asa Jackson, Christian Thompson
Physically unable to perform: Jameel McClain
Non-football injury: Kapron Lewis-Moore

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Ravens sign veteran Chris Johnson to boost cornerback depth

Posted on 13 November 2012 by Luke Jones

With top cornerback Lardarius Webb already lost for the season and starter Jimmy Smith hampered with a groin injury, the Ravens boosted their secondary depth Tuesday with the signing of former Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson.

To make room on the 53-man roster, Baltimore placed rookie running back Bobby Rainey on injured reserve with a knee injury.

The 33-year-old Johnson was released in March after spending the last five seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He played in only four games last season before finishing the year on the non-football injury list as he dealt with the fatal shooting of his sister.

Johnson made 29 starts in his five-year run with Oakland, intercepting eight passes and and forcing three fumbles. The cornerback was originally drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the seventh round of the 2003 draft but didn’t make his NFL debut until 2005 with the St. Louis Rams.

With Smith’s status in question after he was unable to loosen up an injured groin to play in the 55-20 win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 10, the Ravens will likely elect to activate another cornerback against Pittsburgh this Sunday. Rookie Asa Jackson was the only cornerback on the 53-man roster not to be active against Oakland.

Nickel back Corey Graham started in Smith’s place and second-year corner Chykie Brown played in the team’s nickel package in Sunday’s win.

Rainey, an undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky, was inactive in his only three games on the 53-man roster. The pint-sized running back was waived at the start of the season after initially making the team but was then promoted from the practice squad following the season-ending injury to Webb in mid-October.

The team also announced the re-signing of quarterback Dennis Dixon to the practice squad and the release of safety Omar Brown.

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Ravens promote RB Rainey to active roster

Posted on 16 October 2012 by Luke Jones

With roster spots open following two season-ending injuries in Week 6, the Ravens have promoted running back Bobby Rainey from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

One of the most surprising standouts of the preseason, Rainey initially made the 53-man roster following the preseason before the Ravens waived him in favor of fellow running back Anthony Allen for special-teams purposes just hours before the season opener on Sept. 10. The rookie confirmed his promotion via his personal Twitter account.

The undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky landed on Baltimore’s practice squad a day after being removed from the active roster. The 5-foot-8 running back rushed for 55 yards on 23 carries and was the team’s leading receiver in the preseason, catching 14 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns.

“Bobby Rainey is a big part of our plans,” said coach John Harbaugh about the decision to waive Rainey following the Week 1 win. “I texted Bobby before the game. He is, rightly so, kind of upset about it. Bobby is a guy that I cherish. We just did it for special teams reasons, pure and simple.”

The Ravens announced cornerback Lardarius Webb was placed on injured reserve to make room for Rainey’s promotion to the 53-man roster. The team has yet to announce the official move of linebacker Ray Lewis going to IR as well.

 

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Rookie running back Rainey signed to practice squad

Posted on 11 September 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A day after he was waived to create room for Anthony Allen on the 53-man roster, rookie running back Bobby Rainey will remain with the Ravens after signing a practice squad contract.

The undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky said in a text message to WNST.net that he cleared waivers and will go on the eight-man developmental squad after being one of the most pleasant surprises of training camp and initially making the 53-man roster. Rainey was waived due to a need for Allen’s presence on special teams as the roster move was announced shortly before Monday night’s game against the Bengals.

“Bobby Rainey is a big part of our plans,” coach John Harbaugh said after Monday night’s game. “I texted Bobby before the game. He is, rightly so, kind of upset about it. Bobby is a guy that I cherish. We just did it for special teams reasons, pure and simple. Anthony Allen has done a great job on special teams, and we made a strategic roster move we hope works out for us.”

Rainey was used as a punt returner in the preseason, but he did not stand out as a contributor to any of the other special teams units. Fan reaction was strong toward the decision to waive Rainey as many feared he would be picked up by another NFL team looking for depth at the running back position.

The 5-foot-8 running back rushed for 55 yards on 23 carries and was the team’s leading receiver in the preseason, catching 14 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns.

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Four Questions for the Ravens Season

Posted on 04 September 2012 by jeffreygilley

Personally, I have high hopes and expectations for the Ravens this season.  But then again, when are expectations not high in Baltimore?  The success the Ravens have had in their short existence is truly unbelievable.  As I said, this season is no different and the Ravens are hoping to make the Super Bowl after reaching the AFC Championship in two of the last four years.  But, no team enters a season without question marks.

Can the Ravens young linebackers replace the production of Suggs?  

As we all know, Terrell Suggs tore his ACL in the off-season.  Because of his injury, linebackers Paul Kruger, Courtney UpShaw, Sergio Kindle, and Albert McClellan must step up.  Kruger had a nice season in 2011 but that was when he had Terrell Suggs on the field commanding double teams.  Kruger is not alone though.  He has the help of some young players but young is the key word.  Kindle, UpShaw, and McClellan are all young and unexperienced.

If the Ravens can not produce any pressure, the team will struggle.  Pernell McPhee is a defensive lineman to keep an eye on.  He was most effective last season when he lined up against guards.  Pernell McPhee and Haloti Ngata will be a deadly combination this season and can occupy blockers which will help the Ravens young linebackers.

Can Torrey Smith have a break out season? 

Another way the Ravens can make up for the loss of Terrell Suggs is for the offense to be more productive and the pre-season has looked promising for the offense.  Joe Flacco looks much different.  He seems more composed and is scanning the field more effectively.  His favorite target seems to be Torrey Smith.  Smith also looks better.  His route running is more polished and he is now more than a down field threat.

If Torrey Smith had an 800-yard season in 2011 by being a down field threat only, immagine what he can do now that he is more polished?

How will the Ravens use Bobby Rainey and Deonte Thompson?

Bobby Rainey and Deonte Thompson were both stars of the pre-season.  They were brought into Ravens camp with little expectations but once they got to camp, they did nothing but perform at a high level.  Rainey, a running back out of Western Kentucky has shown a vast skill set throughout the preseason.  Rainey can run the ball effectively, catch the ball out of the backfield, he can block, and he can even return punts and kicks.  I think Rainey will play a role very similar to how Darren Sproles is used in New Orleans.  He is a play maker and the Ravens need as many of them as possible.

Deonte Thompson has also been very impressive in the preseason.  Like Raney, Thompson has been effective in multiple areas.  He has been explosive at wide receiver and as a kick returner.  Thompson has an opportunity to climb the depth chart even more.  Players like LaQuan Williams and Tandon Doss are ahead of him but Thompson has been more impressive in the preseason.  I expect Thompson to be used in multiple situations this season.

Will the special teams improve? 

The Ravens are stacked with options to return punts and kicks.  Jacoby Jones, Asa Jackson, Deonte Thompson, and Bobby Rainey have all shown flashes of brilliance in the return game but returning punts and kicks is not the problem.  The coverage was dreadful last season.  To improve the kickoff and punt coverage, the Ravens made several moves in the offseason.  Cory Graham, a special teams ace from the Bears is expected to play a big role on special teams this year and possibly on defense.  Sean Considine was also signed and is expected to contribute in a big way on special teams.

The special teams coverage did not look good in the preseason but it’s only the preseason.  I expect the special teams to be greatly improved from last season.

 

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Ravens-Jaguars preseason primer: Five position battles to watch

Posted on 22 August 2012 by Luke Jones

Moving ever closer to games that actually count, the Ravens will play their third preseason contest of the summer Thursday as they welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars to M&T Bank Stadium.

Coach John Harbaugh is planning to play his starters well into the third quarter as Baltimore meets Jacksonville in the preseason for the first time ever. Traditionally, the third preseason game is considered the final real test for the regular season as starters see their most extensive action before barely making a cameo — if they even do that — in the final preseason game.

The Ravens will try to find more rhythm on both sides of the football, but the vanilla looks we saw in each of the first two preseason games will remain as the coaching staff does not game-plan for opponents in the preseason. For this reason, some downplay the significance placed on the “dress rehearsal” of the preseason.

“I guess that’s the way we’re trained to kind of look at it, just because that is the game [the starters] play the most in,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “We want to go out there and put good work forward and good footage that we can look at and learn from. This week is kind of the same. We want to go out there and we want to play well, but at the same time, we need to clean some things up and see what we’re getting better at and see what we still need to work on maybe even a little bit more.”

As is always the case, the preseason holds the most significance for players competing for starting positions or spots on the 53-man roster, but the coaching staff wants to see rhythm and communication improve as some starters will be playing together in a game for the final time before the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10.

Issues facing the Ravens in the offseason such as becoming more efficient in the red-zone offense and establishing a pass rush without Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs have carried into the preseason, and Harbaugh would like to see glimpses of optimism in those areas with the season set to kick off in less than three weeks.

“The performances of certain players are a really big part of it, but the performances of groups and units together is probably more important, because that’s how the game is played,” Harbaugh said. “We would expect that to be the case – guys working together better, fewer communication mistakes, being more synchronized.”

Even for longtime veterans such as 17-year linebacker Ray Lewis, the third preseason game provides a nice tuneup to not only be on the field for an extended period but to provide the emotional charge they’ll experience in beginning their quest to return to the AFC Championship game — and try to advance a step further — in 2012.

And while it’s not on the list of priorities for Thursday’s game, the Ravens’ embarrassing 12-7 loss to Jacksonville last season was on the mind of at least one Baltimore defensive player. The Jaguars ran for 132 yards against the Ravens on Oct. 24 of last season, but 105 came from the legs of running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who is currently holding out over a contract dispute.

“This is a good test for us,” Lewis said. “These guys run the ball pretty well, and for us to come in and have this type of test right now, being our third preseason game, yeah, I’m a little ready.”

Unofficially (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to release an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess at what the injury report would look like if there were one.

Though not dealing with an injury, defensive end Pernell McPhee’s status for Thursday remains unknown as he’s been away from the team since the weekend due to the death of a family member.

Again, this is not meant to be an official injury report:

OUT: OT Jah Reid (calf), LB Josh Bynes (back), TE Dennis Pitta (hand), TE Ed Dickson (shoulder), LB Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon), WR David Reed (knee), DL Ryan McBean (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: G Marshal Yanda (leg), LB Sergio Kindle (shoulder), S Sean Considine (head), LB Darryl Blackstock (groin)
PROBABLE: WR Torrey Smith (ankle), G Bobbie Williams (ankle)

Five positions to watch Thursday night

1. Left guard – Bobbie Williams and Kelechi Osemele

Should starting right guard Marshal Yanda be held out Thursday after accidentally being undercut by linebacker Chavis Williams during Monday’s practice, it will be more difficult to get a read on where the Ravens stand with their left guard position. It appears the coaching staff has finally settled on veteran Bryant McKinnie at left tackle and Michael Oher on the right side — the two have practiced in those spots exclusively since the second preseason game — but Osemele has begun working at guard more extensively with the 35-year-old Williams still dealing with scar tissue breaking up in his surgically-repaired ankle.

Interestingly enough, Williams was working at right guard in Yanda’s place, which seemed odd for the lineman expected to start on the left side, but it was the position the veteran primarily played in his years with the Cincinnati Bengals. Osemele has been very impressive this summer, making you wonder if he could eventually unseat Williams in the starting lineup. His ankle makes you question whether Williams will hold up over a 16-game schedule, but the Ravens feel confident that Osemele can be a contributor as a rookie if necessary.

My gut choice if the season started today: Williams gets the nod due to experience, but the Ravens won’t hesitate to go with Osemele if the veteran struggles as the season progresses.

2. Defensive end – Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee

Thursday would be a golden opportunity for Jones to make up ground if McPhee remains away from the team due to a death in the family. A hip flexor injury cost Jones valuable practice time, allowing McPhee to receive the bulk of the reps and take the lead in the push for the starting job. A 2011 fifth-round pick out of Mississippi State, McPhee had the reputation of being stronger against the run prior to a surprising rookie season that included six sacks, and he played well against the run in the Ravens’ first two preseason games.

Jones has a strong lower body that translates well in run-stopping situations, but he doesn’t stand out when asked to get after the quarterback, which led many to believe he would see time on first and second downs with McPhee spelling him in passing situations. However, it now appears McPhee can handle the duties of a three-down lineman, and Jones could find himself as more of a situational player like he was last season. Regardless of which player the Ravens anoint as the starter, both will factor heavily into the defensive line rotation.

My gut choice if the season started today: McPhee has stood out on the defensive line as a more complete player and would be the choice as the starter even though Jones will still see plenty of opportunities.

3. Rush linebacker – Albert McClellan and Courtney Upshaw

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