As the Ravens head into Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Falcons, it is unclear how much the team’s first-string offense, specifically the reconfigured line, will play. John Harbaugh and two of his offensive coaches, Cam Cameron and Andy Moeller, didn’t reveal their hand this week.
Fourth-year quarterback Joe Flacco hasn’t played in the Ravens’ final preseason game since his rookie year. But he said he expects to play against the Falcons. “I don't know how much,” he said.
Continuing to establish a rapport with Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans and the team’s young pass-catchers would be helpful, but Flacco isn’t a concern after leading the offense on three touchdown drives last week. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 219 yards and two scores against Washington.
The biggest worry is the offensive line, which has had an up-and-down preseason. Blame it on injuries and the subsequent shuffling along the line if you want. The Ravens have had a different combination of five linemen in each of their preseason games, and left guard Ben Grubbs is the only player who has lined up at his projected position throughout the entire preseason.
Thankfully, it appears the revolving door has halted. The Ravens signed left tackle Bryant McKinnie last week, moved Michael Oher to the right side and have welcomed center Matt Birk and right guard Marshal Yanda back to practice. That quintet has been practicing together since Saturday, and health permitting, this will be the group that starts against the Steelers in Week 1.
Though Cameron, the offensive coordinator, said playing against the Ravens defense in practice is “better than any preseason game we play,” working on their timing together against somebody else -- even if for just a series or two -- would be beneficial for the line. Chemistry is key in the trenches, and they face a tough test in James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley next weekend.
You can probably tell where I stand on this matter, but I appreciate the injury concerns, too. No one wants to see a starter suffer a serious injury in a game that doesn’t count in the standings, and losing, say, Grubbs or Yanda, to injured reserve would be a bigger deal than dropping the season opener in Baltimore. No wonder the Ravens appear to be conflicted on how to proceed Thursday.
Your turn: Should the offensive line play in the preseason finale?