Baltimore Ravens

Five things we learned from Ravens' 14-13 win over Saints

1) In his first significant game action, Marlon Humphrey looked NFL-ready.

The Ravens finally got an extended look at their first-round draft pick, who'd played just six snaps in the previous three games because of nagging injuries. That in itself was a victory.


Better still, Humphrey appeared ready to contribute as the primary backup to starting cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr.

The New Orleans Saints didn't challenge Humphrey early, but once they did, he more than held his own in coverage. He broke up one pass downfield and also committed one interference penalty. But he really shined in run support, forcing a fumble with a ferocious hit late in the first quarter and making another tackle near the line of scrimmage just before halftime.


Those plays fit his reputation as a big, naturally aggressive corner.

Because of that pressing style, Humphrey will probably get beat on the occasional deep ball when he starts lining up against the league's elite. But he'll also be a lot of fun to watch.

2) The back end of the receiving corps remains muddled.

We know Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman will be the big three, and Michael Campanaro seems likely to handle most of the returns.

But what will the Ravens do with Chris Moore and Chris Matthews, neither of whom blew anyone away this preseason?The Ravens have been high on Moore at times, viewing him as a potential breakout candidate. He caught a short touchdown pass in New Orleans, but in general, his production has not suggested a major step forward is imminent.

Matthews has also been inconsistent as a receiver, though he did catch three passes for 66 yards Thursday. More importantly, he's played well on special teams.

Don't be surprised if the Ravens keep both players for special teams purposes. If they pick one, Matthews probably has the slight edge, despite the fact that Moore was a fourth-round pick just last season.

3) Bam Bradley is an excellent candidate to fill in for Albert McClellan.


McClellan's season-ending injury created an opportunity for a younger linebacker/special teams star. Patrick Onwuasor has impressed in that role throughout the preseason. But among the players who came in on the roster bubble, Bradley made the most dramatic impression against the Saints.

The undrafted free agent — who also stood out last weekend against the Buffalo Bills — delivered several hits that popped off the screen, including two on, yes, special teams.

Don't underrate that as a factor in Bradley's favor. McClellan is the perfect example of a player who's held his roster spot for years because he's an anchor on special teams. And if the Ravens believe Bradley can fill the veteran's shoes, he'll be hard to cut.

4) Matt Skura is a viable option at the unsettled left guard spot.

There aren't many lingering questions about the starting lineup, but the left guard spot vacated by Alex Lewis' season-ending injury is one.

Based on the players who sat out against the Saints, it seems most likely James Hurst will start there and Ryan Jensen will start at center.


It's also conceivable Jeremy Zuttah could return to starting at center and Jensen could shift back to guard.

But the Ravens think highly of Skura, who signed as an undrafted free agent out of Duke and spent last season on the practice squad. He started at left guard against the Saints, and cleared the way for several significant runs, including a 23-yard gain by Bobby Rainey.

At 313 pounds, Skura isn't particularly big for an NFL lineman, but he has long arms and can play center in a pinch.

I don't expect him to start the first game in Cincinnati. But if the left side of the line struggles early and the Ravens don't acquire veteran help in the next week, Skura has earned his chance to be the next man up.

5) Carl Davis reminded us that at least one quality defensive lineman won't stick on this roster.

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Davis thrilled his defensive peers with a first-quarter interception to set up a touchdown against the Saints. His celebratory dancing skills aren't quite on the Brandon Williams level, but he gets extra credit for enthusiasm.


Davis earned his moment of jubilee. He began training camp near the top of the list of Ravens who needed to show significant improvement or look for a new home. He's generally responded to the challenge with aplomb.

But it's still not clear Davis has secured a roster spot, because he's part of the most difficult math problem John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome face as they prepare to trim their team to 53 this weekend. Behind starters Williams, Michael Pierce and Brent Urban, the Ravens have at least five other promising defensive linemen. That's probably one or two more than they need.

Chris Wormley and Bronson Kaufusi are more recent draft picks, so they seem likely to stick. But Davis was a third-round pick in 2015 and Willie Henry a fourth-round pick last year, so it's not as if the Ravens want to discard them. Rookie Patrick Ricard, meanwhile, has made a case for himself by also playing on offense.

Can the Ravens trade one of these guys to address an area of more acute need? It's a good problem for the team to have. But not so good for Davis.