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Five takeaways from Ravens' preseason opener

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Five takeaways from Ravens' preseason opener

What should we make of the Ravens’ preseason opener?

From the Ravens’ perspective, the positives far outweighed the negatives. They got the victory, 30-27, over the Saints. They got a solid game from all three quarterbacks, including third-stringer Bryn Renner, who scored the game-winning touchdown and led the final drive.

Here are my five takeaways from the 2015 Ravens’ first game:

1. The young tight ends answered the bell.

Crockett Gillmore started and displayed his improvement as a receiver (two catches, 17 yards).  Rookie Maxx Williams (two catches, 36 yards) delivered a highlight, barreling over Saints’ defenders to get a key first down. And rookie Nick Boyle (four catches, 25 yards) showed potential to be a reliable backup. The Ravens looked young and deep at tight end. That’s a good combination, and another example of general manager Ozzie Newsome’s ability to draft.

2. The Ravens must find reps for receiver Michael Campanaro if he stays healthy.

Campanaro gets open, he has sure hands, and he’s an elusive runner after the catch. On his 45-yard touchdown reception, Campanaro read the coverage, adjusted the route, and eluded a would-be tackler on his way to the end zone. Campanaro should put up nice numbers if he plays 16 games.

3 .Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman may be at the right place at the right time.

Trestman won’t go deep into his playbook until the regular season. But after a disappointing two-year run as the Bears’ head coach, Trestman seems back in his element.  He is an experienced play-caller, and with the Ravens he has a strong offensive line, a championship-caliber quarterback in Joe Flacco, and a 1,000-yard back in Justin Forsett. The potential for a potent offense is there.

“I thought Marc did a really interesting job of the way he called the plays,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “It was all based off the run game and a lot of play passes and things like that. The biggest thing I noticed was execution.”

4. Kyle Arrington showed his potential to play safety if needed.

Signed as a free agent from the Patriots, Arrington’s strength is as a nickel corner. But he took reps at free safety Thursday night, with the starters not seeing much playing time. Kendrick Lewis has looked good in practice as the starter, as has Will Hill as the starter at strong safety. With Arrington providing depth and versatility, the Ravens’ revamped safety rotation could be much improved.

5. The Ravens’ front seven depth could be a question mark.

Once the starters left, the Ravens’ defense suffered up front. Rookie outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith had the Ravens’ only sack. Rookie defensive tackle Carl Davis played most of the game and got into the backfield fairly consistently. However, with Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee gone, and Brent Urban injured, the Ravens’ front seven rotation will need Davis, Smith, and others to make an impact, or the pass rush and run defense could suffer. 

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What you need to know from the Ravens' 27-14 win over the Broncos

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What you need to know from the Ravens' 27-14 win over the Broncos

The Ravens got a 27-14 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.

It was an interesting game for many reasons including Broncos star rookie running back, Phillip Lindsay, getting ejected in the first half for throwing a punch.

Here's what you need to know from Sunday's win:

— Rookie linebacker Kenny Young stepped in for injured C.J. Mosley and showed he will be a starter. Young had a critical sack on Broncos quarterback Case Keenum on a third down in the second and finished the day with 10 tackles. The Ravens defense as a whole was impressive. While they gave up a lot of short third downs, they stopped their fair share as well. Most importantly was the late fourth quarter interception from Patrick Onwuasor, while the Broncos were threatening in Ravens territory. 

— The Ravens are continuing to work on the run game, as something offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg emphasized after the team was averaging just 3.3-yards-per-carry heading into Week 3. Against the Broncos, the team averaged just 2.8 yard-per-carry, but put up two rushing touchdowns from Buck Allen and Alex Collins.

— It was a strange day for the Ravens' special teams when the Broncos blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown on the first drive of the game. The day became even stranger when safety Justin Simmons, (illegally) leaped over long snapper Morgan Cox to block a field goal and the penalty went uncalled. Kicker Justin Tucker made up for it by hitting not one, but two 52-yard field goals, his eighth straight from beyond 50. 

Joe Flacco finished the day 25 of 40 for 277 yards and one touchdown, while helping improve the team to 12-12 in the red zone. The QBs most impressive play came late in the fourth on a third down hitting the gas pedal, to not only get the first down but stayed in-bounds to keep the clock running and sealing the team's victory. His connection with John Brown continues to be strong after finding the receiver for a 44-yard gain, too.

The Ravens are now 2-1 and head to Pittsburgh for a Sunday night matchup in Week 4. 

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Ravens vs. Broncos Week 3 inactives: C.J. Mosley not in action

Ravens vs. Broncos Week 3 inactives: C.J. Mosley not in action

The Ravens will have to battle with the Broncos in Week 3 without the services of linebacker C.J. Mosely, who was ruled out of action prior to the game.

Mosley exited the Ravens' Week 2 matchup vs. the Bengals in the first quarter and was later diagnosed with a bone bruise. With 10 days of rest, the three-time Pro Bowler was limited in Thursday's practice but did not practice Friday.

Also ruled out for Sunday's game is cornerback Anthony Averett (hamstring), defensive tackle Willie Henry (abdomen), tight end Hayden Hurst (foot), 

RAVENS vs. BRONCOS WEEK 3: INACTIVE LIST

RAVENS:
— CB Anthony Averett
— QB Robert Griffin III
— DT Willie Henry
— TE Hayden Hurst
— WR Jordan Lasley
— LB C.J. Mosley
— DT Michael Pierce

BRONCOS:
— QB Kevin Hogan
— LB Alexander Johnson
— CB Adam Jones
— G Sam Jones
— S Dymonte Thomas
— DE Demarcus Walker
— T Elijah Wilkinson

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