Stopping second year quarterback Andy Dalton is a major key for the Ravens if they are to beat the Cincinnati Bengals Monday in the season opener.
As a rookie last season, Dalton engineered four fourth quarter comeback victories. He set a Bengals rookie record with 3,398 yards passing, one of only five rookies in NFL history to top 3,000 yards.
Can Dalton get better even if this is supposed to be the year for the sophomore jinx?
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“A lot better, if we work at it the right way, and I know we will,” said Dalton. “We’re hungry to go further. To make the playoffs last year was good, but you don’t want to end it the way we did (first round loss at Houston). We can see the potential we have. We just have to get better and better each day.”
The Ravens have to get pressure on Dalton, something they haven’t done consistently all preseason.
Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger is familiar with Dalton having played against him in college.
"I played against him in college at TCU and against him here a couple of times,” said Kruger, from Utah. “I think he's come in the league and become a great player real quick. So, there's a lot to be said for that. He's always been a competitor. You can never say enough about a guy who has come in and had an immediate impact like that, so a lot of positives."
Ravens inside linebacker Jameel McClain said: "He’s a good quarterback. He’s definitely smart and he has the weapons to get the ball anywhere on the field, especially with A.J. Green being able to stretch you out and do all of the things that he does. He’s definitely a dangerous quarterback and you can see that he’s getting more comfortable after another year. It will be an interesting challenge for us.”