BALTIMORE – Five observations from watching the Ravens defeat the Panthers, 22-19, in the preseason opener at M&T Bank Stadium:
1. A trio of young Ravens running backs looked good.
Terrance West (nine carries, 25 yards), two touchdowns) made people miss and changed direction on a dime.
Kenneth Dixon (eight carries, 46 yards) ran through arm tackles with authority. Buck Allen (six carries, six yards) accelerated nicely after catching a screen pass for a 19-yard touchdown.
Finding enough touches for all of these backs could be a pleasant problem. Veteran starter Justin Forsett had the night off. But Forsett saw plenty of fresh legs waiting in the wings if he falters at all.
2. Ravens linebacker Za’Darius Smith spent plenty of time in the Panthers’ backfield.
Smith had an impressive strip sack in the first quarter, picking up where he left off last season, when he had 3 ½ sacks over the final three games. Smith is lining up as a defensive end, rush linebacker, and strong side linebacker. But Smith looks ready to blossom as a pass rusher.
3. Two names to watch are fifth-round defensive end Matt Judon and free agent linebacker Chris Carter.
Judon looked much better on the field than he had during training camp practices.
He was a sack artist in college, and Judon’s athleticism give the Panthers’ offensive line problems. Judon could find a role as a situational pass rusher. Carter has already been with the Steelers, Colts and Bengals, and he’s longshot to make the team. But Carter’s quickness as an edge rusher jumped out. He did play in two games for the Ravens last season.
4. Neither Jerraud Powers nor Sheldon Price had a stellar night at cornerback.
After Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright, the Ravens’ depth chart at cornerback remains very much uncertain.
5. Cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Tavon Young left the game with injuries.
Arrington was being evaluated for a concussion. Young was having left knee examined. There was no immediate word on either’s condition.