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Ravens notes: Pass defense looks shaky against Redskins

In the final tuneup of the preseason, the Ravens may have some tinkering to do with their pass defense.

The unit surrendered 145 yards through the air to the Washington Redskins in the first half Thursday night and allowed a passing touchdown on an opponent's final possession of the first half for the second consecutive game.

Even worse, the Ravens made Rex Grossman, a backup to Donovan McNabb last season, look like an elite quarterback as he connected on eight of 15 passes for 112 yards and a 24-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Santana Moss with 51 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

On the scoring play, rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith appeared to shade to the receiver running an out to the left sideline. That freed up Moss to run a corner route to the rear right portion of the end zone, and Grossman lobbed a pass into Moss' hands before Smith or free safety Ed Reed, who was playing in the middle, could catch up.

Former Raven John Beck completed just one pass in three attempts, but his 33-yard strike to wide receiver Anthony Armstrong down the right sideline started a three-play, 70-yard drive that culminated in running back Tim Hightower's 37-yard touchdown scamper to give Washington a 14-0 advantage with 3:35 left in the first quarter.

"We had some communication issues on their two touchdown plays," defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said in comments distributed by the team after halftime. "We can't have that once the regular season comes. We had a chance to make some plays and get off the field, and we didn't make them."

Early in the contest, the Redskins appeared to target starting cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who gave up the 33-yard catch by Armstrong and a 14-yard pass from Grossman to Moss.

But on Washington's final series of the first half, Grossman went after starting cornerback Cary Williams, who surrendered an 18-yard pass to Armstrong and a 14-yarder to wide receiver Jabar Gaffney. Williams almost allowed a touchdown to an opposing receiver on the last possession of the second quarter for the second time in two games, but he dislodged a pass from Grossman to Moss in the end zone.

Pagano said this week that Foxworth, Williams, Smith, Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb are still in the mix to start at cornerback when the regular season opens Sept. 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"We've got great competition going on, and we feel like they're all doing what they're supposed to do," Pagano said at the time. "We've got guys in position to make some plays out there. We've got some guys making some and we've got some guys not finishing some plays, and they're right there."

Ravens unhappy with TD run

Hightower's touchdown run was the first of the preseason against the Ravens, and they were less than pleased about it.

"We never give up yards running the ball, but the bottom line is when you look at that play, there were so many mistakes just on that one play," said inside linebacker Ray Lewis, who was blocked to the turf. "I think this is just an opportunity for us to always get better. But I really like the way we came out and faced adversity."

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said there was no miscommunication on the play.

"It was just more of the D-line getting cut down," he said. "Really, we've got to stay on our feet. If you see that play, I've got two guys on me, and some of us got cut down, so they had that little cut-back area. But I think we did better as the game went on. Hopefully, we can get rid of those mistakes and keep up our progression."

Evans makes splash again

After excelling in his debut against the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night, Lee Evans posted his encore against the Redskins.

Evans caught three passes for 60 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown from quarterback Joe Flacco with 5:41 left in the second quarter.

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said this week that Evans, who gained 68 yards on three receptions against the Chiefs, has fit in quickly in the offense.

"He is a good football player, and he is going to help us win," Cameron said. "He has a chance to help us win a championship. He sees the big picture."

Webb shows flashes

Webb demonstrated his versatility against Washington.

He sacked Beck for a 9-yard loss in the second quarter, then intercepted a pass by Beck in the third quarter.

Webb, who also had two tackles, leads the team with 11/2 sacks.

Changes up front

The Ravens didn't waste any time seeing what Mark LeVoir could do.

The former New England Patriots offensive tackle started against the Redskins at right guard for Marshal Yanda, who is dealing with back spasms. LeVoir was signed Sunday, spent most of Monday lining up at right tackle with the first offense, then moved to right guard Tuesday.

Rookie Jah Reid started at right tackle. Reid, the Ravens' third-round pick in April, got the nod over Oniel Cousins, who had started at right guard in Friday night's 31-13 victory over the Chiefs but has been groomed as an offensive tackle since the team selected him in the third round in 2008.

End zone

The Ravens honored the memory of former Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan with a video tribute and a moment of silence. Flanagan, the 1979 Cy Young Award winner who became a coach, television announcer and top executive with the club, died Wednesday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. … Rookie defensive end Michael McAdoo, who signed with the Ravens after the supplemental draft Monday, suited up and wore No. 70. McAdoo, who will wear No. 45 as newly signed offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie will wear No. 70, did not appear to play. … Washington started Grossman over Beck. Beck, who was with the Ravens during last year's training camp, had been dealing with a groin injury earlier in the month but started against the Indianapolis Colts on Friday and completed 14 of 17 passes for 140 yards. Grossman connected on 19 of 26 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers on Aug. 12. Another former Raven, Josh Wilson, did not play. The cornerback was replaced by Byron Westbrook. … Linebackers Ray Lewis and Brendon Ayanbadejo and Flacco represented the Ravens for the pre-game coin toss.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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