Ravens vs. Rams
Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Thursday 7 p.m. ET
For the players hoping to make the 53-man roster, Thursday's preseason finale at the St. Louis Rams is about the best in show.
After struggling in the first two exhibitions, the Ravens' first unit showed progress on both sides of the ball in last week's 31-point blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This game is about the reserves and rookies who are trying to play their way in as not many starters are expected to play or receive significant time. Final cuts will be announced Friday when coach John Harbaugh will trim 22 players.
"This is the biggest game in the careers of a bunch of guys Thursday night," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "There's a lot on the line for these guys and I can't wait to watch some of them play."
Matchup to watch: Bernard Pierce vs. Bobby Rainey -- The rookie RBs are battling it out for the No. 2 spot. While Pierce has shown the ability to run between the tackles and dish out contact, Rainey is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and is getting work as a punt returner.
Who'll make the call: QB Tyrod Taylor or Curtis Painter? Whoever starts here likely has the inside track on the No. 2 job behind starter Joe Flacco and that's likely Taylor. That would mean when cuts come, Painter would be out as the Ravens aren't expected to keep three quarterbacks. They'd rather have an extra defensive player or offensive lineman. A QB of Painter's quality can be acquired via the waiver wire quickly if needed.
Impact player: Omar Brown is close, if he hasn't already, to carving out a spot. The undrafted safety has three fumble recoveries, an onside kick recovery and an interception in the preseason. With a season-ending leg injury to Emanuel Cook and Sean Considine's concussion.
No-go: G Marshal Yanda (knee), T Jah Reid (calf), LB Darryl Blackstock (groin) and LB Josh Bynes (back). Ed Dickson (shoulder) and Dennis Pitta (hand) have been practicing but Harbaugh said there's no chance that either will play before the season-opener Sept. 10. Last season, Harbaugh sat key starters such as Flacco, RB Ray Rice, LB Ray Lewis, T Michael Oher and S Ed Reed in the preseason finale.
Prediction: Ravens 24, Rams 21