The Ravens’ 31-17 preseason-opening victory against the Atlanta Falcons featured a subpar performance by many of the starters, and a spirited comeback, fueled by some of the organization’s younger players. Here is a look at five players who helped their status and five who may have taken a step back.
FIVE WHO IMPRESSED
- Omar Brown, S: Two tackles, one interception, one pass defense and two fumble recoveries. It was quite the debut for the undrafted free agent out of Marshall who has a knack for being around the football.
- Pernell McPhee, DE: McPhee was credited with only one tackle but he got a lot of penetration against the run, an encouraging sign for a player trying to prove that he is more than just a pass-rush specialist.
- Curtis Painter, QB: The former Indianapolis Colts quarterback has taken a bit of a beating from the media for his struggles in the early going of training camp, but three touchdown passes in little more than a quarter warrant a little credit.
- Bobby Rainey, RB: The diminutive running back out of Western Kentucky, who played high school football in Georgia, had a stirring homecoming, gaining 36 yards on 12 carries, catching three balls for 29 yards and a touchdown and returning six punts for 50 yards.
- Deonte Thompson, WR: Thompson struggled at University of Florida to transfer his practice success into the games, but he sure did that last night, catching three balls for 53 yards, including an impressive 22-yard touchdown grab.
Honorable mention: Brendon Ayanbadejo, LB; Joe Flacco, QB, Albert McClellan, LB; Torrey Smith, WR.
FIVE WHO STRUGGLED
- Anthony Allen, RB: While Rainey stood out and has become very much a factor in the backup running back competition, Allen had a rough night. Currently second behind Ray Rice on the depth chart, Allen rushed five times for nine yards, dropped a pass and missed a block that led to a big hit on Joe Flacco.
- Gino Gradkowski, C: It was a tough opening assignment for the rookie center against a team that likes to get after the quarterback. Gradkowski played the better part of three quarters and got better as the game wore on, but he missed a couple of assignments early that led to pass rushers coming in untouched on Flacco.
- Dorian Graham, WR: The Ravens’ roster is stocked with young wide receivers so there is very little margin of error for an undrafted free agent like Graham. He was targeted five times last night and finished with one catch for zero yards.
- Bobbie Williams, LG: The veteran has to gain some chemistry with the offensive line and knock off some rust. He was beat a few times and had a couple of miscommunications with Gradkowski, who nevertheless took the blame for them.
- Cary Williams, CB: In his first game after having hip surgery, Williams was targeted early and often by quarterback Matt Ryan, and it was a struggle for the Ravens cornerback. Working mostly against Williams, Atlanta’s second-year wide receiver Julio Jones caught six balls for 109 yards and a touchdown in little more than a quarter of work.