Tyrod Taylor didn't set the world on fire in his first two preseason games. Sure, he put up impressive rushing totals, scrambling for 111 yards on 12 carries. But he completed just 16 of 39 attempts for 129 yards in the two games combined. Thats 3.3 yards per attempt. And he had a passer rating of 50.1. Thats not very good, obviously. Taylors play was not very reassuring for the many Ravens fans that worry that this will be the year when starting quarterback Joe Flacco is sidelined with an injury for the first time in his career. On Thursday, though, Taylor looked like the maturing young passer that we have seen spurts of throughout training camp. He was sharp, completing seven of nine attempts for 139 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a five-yard touchdown on a naked bootleg, juking Jacksonville defensive tackle Corvey Irvin with a sick stutter step in the open field before beating him to the right pylon. Yes, he threw an ugly interception that was returned for a touchdown by Antonio Dennard in the fourth quarter, but in his three other drives, the Ravens scored three touchdowns. Good or bad, there are always plenty of thrills when Taylor is under center. It was good to see Tyrod because thats the type of Tyrod that weve all seen in practice. It was good to see him take that to the game. He played well, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after Thursdays game. I know there was a little buzz about Curtis Painter after he tossed three touchdown passes in the preseason opener, but Painter has thrown a slew of picks in training camp and appears to be competing solely to convince the Ravens to carry three quarterbacks for the first time since 2009 (when Troy Smith and John Beck were the backups). Taylor is the second-most talented quarterback on the roster, and he is trending upward. We will get a better idea of where he is at next week if Taylor, as expected, plays most of the preseason finale. Thats not to say there isnt value for the Ravens to keep Painter, though. As I mentioned earlier -- and lets hope I dont jinx it -- Flacco hasnt missed a start in his NFL career, but he took a pounding at times last season. Painter has starting experience in the NFL, even if each of those starts with the Indianapolis Colts resulted in losses. And if the Ravens keep three quarterbacks, it gives them flexibility to get creative with how they use Taylor (maybe some read-option packages). Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the other Ravens quarterback and how he performed. No, not Chester Stewart. Im talking about Flacco. I think weve gotten to the point in his career where we dont have to overanalyze every decision and throw -- and heavens I am thankful for that. Flacco clicked with Torrey Smith and his wideouts, completing 27 of his 36 attempts for 266 yards and two scores. His lone interception was a desperate heave to Smith to end the first half. These were probably his last snaps of the preseason, and it was nice to see what hes been doing to camp translate to this dress rehearsal for the season opener.
Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.