The first Exhibition game is in the books, Training Camp is slowly winding down and the team readies for a trip to Fed Ex Field and the Washington Redskins. So now is as good a time as any to make a few observations about the roster as they begin to trim towards the magic number of 53.
1. What two players had a good showing in the first preseason game? What will they need to do to continue the success?
Jonathan Scruggs; you’re up first-
Terrance Cody has all of the tools necessary to be a major force of nature in the NFL. I was especially shocked to see him line up at full-back. The kid has deceptive athleticism and on one play arm tackled a panthers player while being blocked by two others… He reminded me so much of Siragusa that it wasn’t even funny. That being said, he has to continue to work on his conditioning and make sure that he’s out there every snap, and every down, not just as a third down run stuffer. If he can manage his body, the kid will be a superstar over night.
Gene Winner step in next-
Cornerback Cary Williams had a great first game he’ll need to continue that play against the Redskins. The next game will be a better indicator on how Williams is progressing as he faces a better receiving core and a Pro Bowl caliber QB, Donovan McNabb.
Another player who had a good showing was defensive tackle Paul Kruger. He still has the great motor since bulking up in the offseason. Kruger got off the ball quickly and made some great plays. He demonstrated good stamina and speed in the fourth quarter as well. “Nightmare on Ravens Street” just needs to continue to be aggressive and have a few plays where he disrupts opposition‘s backfield.
Matt Jergensen to round it out –
Tom Zbikowski showed off his increased agility and flexibility against the Panthers last Thursday and I was very impressed with his quickness on the Safety Blitz. Believe me I want Ed Reed back on the field but I’m more than confident with Zibby patrolling the back end in his absence. It does make me wonder if the Ken Hamlin signing was necessary.
Antawan Barnes was another player who showed great speed in the pass rush. Barnes is often a forgotten man in the linebacker competition but if he can continue to get to the quarterback he could find himself on the field as a third down specialist. But who knows, as far as I’m concerned the last Inside linebacker spot is still up for grabs and it won’t be decided until the first game.
2. Conversely, What two players didn’t play well in preseason and how will they have to improve?
Jon Scruggs –
I was not at all impressed with two of the Ravens’ veteran free agent acquisitions. Marc Bulger looked tentative and disinterested. Despite his claims to the contrary the man just didn’t look like he wanted to be out there. Shayne Graham is also clearly still struggling with his Cincinnati demons.Both players have got to get their heads on straight or this could be an ugly year for the both of them.
Gene Winner –
Rookie receiver David Reed, had good ball security, but lacked speed in the return game; hopefully the speed issue was a result of being too cautious in his first NFL return. In addition, he didn’t quite get enough separation running routes in the passing game. He didn’t have a bad game per se, yet he could improve by getting separation running his routes.One player who didn’t have his best game was backup QB Troy Smith. He took much time in the pocket and his ‘read and react time’ seemed a bit slow. Of course it is hard playing with the second team, yet you would think by now he would have a better mental clock in the pocket.
B-More Blogman –
I was most disappointed with the Offensive Line play. You can’t really single out one player either. Mike Oher and Ben Grubbs looked slow on the left side while Matt Birk was nursing some neck issues. I’ve grown tired of the Jared Gaither saga and I’m not sold at all on Oneil Cousins being able to fill the void for him during his absence. Wasn’t the O-line supposed to be a strength? It just shows you how fragile things can be. I think until Gaither is injury free and ready to practice they should move Marshall Yanda back to Right Tackle and insert Chris Chester at Right Guard.