OWINGS MILLS -- As the Ravens prepare for Tuesday's 1 p.m. workout, here are five reasons why this is an important week of practice for the Ravens:
1. Saturday’s game against the Redskins will be more like the real thing.
Week 3 of the preseason is when the starters get the most reps. We’ll likely see starters like Joe Flacco and Terrell Suggs could play into second half – the most game action they’ll see until Week 1 in Denver. Vets and starters want to play well in Week 3 of the preseason, to carry that feeling into September.
2. It’s getting close to decision-making time.
Rosters need to be trimmed to 75 players by Sept. 1, and to 53 players by Sept. 5. The Ravens have plenty of tough decisions to make at the back end of their roster, particularly at wide receiver, cornerback, and special teams. That’s why coach John Harbaugh gave plenty of veterans the day off on Monday.
“This was a practice for young guys – guys we felt needed reps, guys that are fighting to make the team, and a special teams emphasis practice,” Harbaugh said.
3. The running back rotation behind Justin Forsett is in flux.
Lorenzo Taliaferro will miss several weeks with a sprained knee, so rookie Buck Allen becomes the No 2 back for now, with Terrence Magee and Fitz Toussaint getting a golden opportunity for more reps.
“The way our practice is set up, everybody gets reps,” said running backs coach Thomas Hammock. “They all have an opportunity to show what they can do, and the great thing is, we’ve got two more games for guys to go out there and prove exactly what type of player they want to be.”
The closer it gets to the regular season, the more concerning the health of wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) and others becomes. The Ravens want to get more clarity on which players they can depend on in September.
5. The Ravens need work on special teams
They gave up a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown to Kenjon Barner of the Eagles on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the Ravens haven’t decided who will return punts and kickoffs for them. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro is a candidate, but he is injured at the moment. Possibilities for punt returner include Asa Jackson, and DeAndre Carter if he makes the team. Magee will get a look as a kickoff returner. The Ravens know they can use Steve Smith and Lardarius Webb to return punts in certain situations, but they want to see younger players step up.