The first preseason game for the Ravens on Thursday night was supposed to be a chance to look at some of the team's rookies.
While several of them made sparkling debuts — particularly outside linebacker Matthew Judon, with a team-leading seven tackles, and running back Kenneth Dixon, who had a team-high 44 yards on nine carries — another player without much game experience also made an impressive introduction in a the team's 22-19 win over the Panthers.
Linebacker Chris Carter, who has played almost exclusively on special teams in six NFL seasons with three teams, overcame an early scare to make his first sack (though still unofficial) in a game. He was credited with three quarterback hurries.
Asked whether it was a matter of getting a chance or just growing as a player, Carter said: "I think it's a little bit of both, opportunity and progression. Growing every year. You get around seasoned vets like Arthur [Brown] and Albert [McClellan] and they teach me a lot of skills and moves."
The scare came after the opening kickoff, when Carter took a hit and had to be taken to the locker room to go through a concussion protocol.
"I was hoping they would let me back in," Carter said with a laugh. "In the NFL, they want to make sure we don't have any concussions. Honestly I couldn't be mad at anybody. I went out there, a play came up and I wasn't going to turn the other cheek. It's a man's game and that's what we do. Fortunately we both walked away healthy and get out there and keep playing."
Judon, who was a Division II All-American at Grand Valley State, seemed to be focused right from the start.
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"I really didn't think about anything, you can't think out there," said Judon, a fifth-round draft pick who had a sack Thursday night. "I go out there and rely on your training and know that the coaches put you in the right situation. ... ….You just want to come out here and play as hard as you can and show what you can do."
Dixon got off to a strong start himself, rushing for 19 yards on his first carry from scrimmage.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was happy with what he saw from his young players.
"It is so important, to see those guys play in games., I don't think you ever really know," Harbaugh said. "The last couple of days, I was waiting for this game to get here. 'How are they going to play? How are they going to look against another team?' You just don't know until you see something happen. These young guys, we drafted them for a reason and they showed up tonight."
A big arrival: Defensive tackle Brandon Williams announced on Twitter the birth Wednesday of his second son, Nash Calhoun Williams. According to his tweet, Nash weighed in at 10 pounds, 3 ounces and was measured at 22 inches. Williams did not play for the Ravens on Thursday.
Williams and his fiancee, Alyssa, also have a 4-year-old son, Ryder.
Remembering Walker: A blue banner on a stadium wall near where the Ravens enter the field honors cornerback Tray Walker, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in Miami in March. He was 23. On Twitter, the Ravens posted a picture, which included his name, number and the years he lived, with the words "Always in our [heart]."