Neither the Ravens nor the Chiefs generated much offense in their first games of the preseason. The two 2010 postseason participants will both be striving for improvement when they get together at M&T Bank Stadium Friday in a rematch of last January’s AFC Wild Card Playoff.
Both teams were losers in their first go-around of 2011, with the Ravens dropping a 13-6 decision at Philadelphia on Aug. 11 and the Chiefs dealt a 25-0 road loss by Tampa Bay last Friday.
Kansas City mustered a mere 137 total yards and six first downs against the Buccaneers, and committed two costly fumbles in the opening quarter that were turned into 10 Tampa Bay points.
The Chiefs did hold out a number of key regulars for the game, including new wide receiver Steve Breaston, tight end Tony Moeaki and defensive starters Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Glenn Dorsey and Brandon Flowers. Quarterback Matt Cassel, meanwhile, only played three series and did not attempt a pass.
Kansas City head coach Todd Haley will take this game a bit more seriously, with the starters expected to be on the field for all or most of the first half. He’ll also be hoping for a better showing from an offense that was also stymied by the Ravens when the clubs faced off in the playoffs some seven months ago.
Baltimore’s veteran defense limited the Chiefs to just 161 total yards, only 25 of which came in the first half, and picked off Cassel three times en route to a 30-7 rout at Arrowhead Stadium in that game. Cassel finished the day with just 70 passing yards while completing 9-of-18 throws.
These teams have never previously met in preseason play.
The Ravens are also coming off a sloppy showing in their opener, with the offensive line yielding six sacks to the Eagles and rookie quarterback Tyrod Taylor throwing a pair of interceptions in his first NFL action.
Taylor, a sixth-round pick in last April’s draft, did hit on 19-of-28 attempts for 179 yards and rushed for a team-best 59 yards on six scrambles in relief of starter Joe Flacco, who directed the first two Baltimore possessions and went 3-of-6 for 60 yards.
Flacco will get a chance to work with a new receiver in this week’s tilt, with the Ravens acquiring seven-year pro Lee Evans from Buffalo last Friday in exchange for a fourth-round draft choice in 2012. The speedy wideout has been immediately installed as a starter opposite three-time Pro Bowler Anquan Boldin and is slated to see some playing time against the Chiefs.
The game should also mark the Baltimore debut of Ricky Williams, signed by the team on Aug. 8 to serve as a backup to standout running back Ray Rice. The 34- year-old did not suit up for last week’s test.
The Ravens may be a bit thin on the front line, however. Center Matt Birk will sit out a second straight week while recovering from knee surgery, while guard Marshal Yanda is considered questionable with a back injury.
Friday’s matchup will also serve as a homecoming for three Kansas City newcomers who were all a member of the Ravens last season — fullback LeRon McClain, offensive tackle Jared Gaither and nose tackle Kelly Gregg. Gaither, who missed all of last season with back problems, may not play, however, as he’s still working to get back into shape following the lengthy layoff.
Gregg had spent the last 10 seasons with the Ravens before being released just prior to training camp and started 124 games during his tenure in Baltimore.