Tonight, we get to see the Ravens in game action. They host the Saints at 7:30 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in the preseason opener. (Coverage begins at 7 p.m. on CSN+).
Clifton’s five things to watch:
1. The receivers – Many receivers have looked good in practice, so the preseason could determine who makes the roster, and how the depth chart stacks up heading into Week 1. First-round pick Breshad Perriman (knee) is not expected to play after missing 10 straight practices. So receivers like Jeremy Butler, DeAndre Carter, and Darren Waller will get extra reps, trying to convince the coaching staff that they are too talented to cut. The preseason will also help the Ravens decide if they will keep six or seven receivers, and if Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken, Perriman, or someone else should be the No. 2 receiver behind Steve Smith.
2. Young tight ends – With Dennis Pitta (PUP) unavailable, whoever the Ravens go with at tight end is going to be young. Crockett Gillmore is in his second year, while Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle are both rookies. Gillmore has the inside track to start Week 1, but Williams was a playmaker at Minnesota. If Williams is going to make a case to start, this game would be a good time to start.
3. Kick returners – Even if Steve Smith and Lardarius Webb return some punts during the regular season, they won’t be doing it in this game. So for return candidates like Michael Campanaro and Carter, this is a chance to break one and become the frontrunner for the job.
4. Matt Schaub – He should see plenty of action at quarterback, with Joe Flacco only expected to play a snap or two. Schaub has thrown more than his share of interceptions during practice. If he looks good, he will reduce concern about the backup quarterback situation.
5. The pass rush – Losing outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata during the offseason has raised concern about the Ravens’ pass rush. Don’t expect to see Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs to see much action. So we’ll how much pressure the Ravens get on the Saints’ quarterbacks, and where the pass rush comes from. Keep an eye on rookie outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, a fourth-round pick who has potential as a pass rusher.