Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rams vs. Raven Preveiw

Ravens' QB Marc Bulger will return to St.Louis for the preseason finale.
I won't do a complete, position-by-position preview this week; due to the fact that the starters barely play in the fourth preseason game. But after the game, I will still post a video of Bradford's performance, as well as some other select plays from the game. But here are some points to watch for... 

Former Rams QB Marc Bulger will return to St.Louis, and will be looking for some revenge during the fourth week of preseason play. How will the St.Louis crowd react? How fired up will he be? We shall see. Bulger is currently fighting with QB Troy Smith for the Ravens' back-up QB job. Meanwhile, rookie QB Sam Bradford (who will start again; AJ Feeley is still out with a thumb injury), and the rest of the Ram' offense, will look to build on their success against the New England Patriots.

When most people think of the Baltimore Ravens, they think of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, and the great defense they've built. The Ravens' offense has been playing second fiddle to their defense for a while now; but recently, the offense has been gaining some attention, with the emergence of Joe Flacco, the acquisition of WR Anquan Boldin, the ageless receiver Derrick Mason, and the solid 2009 campaign of RB Ray Rice.

The Rams' offense will not feature two starting wide-outs; Donnie Avery (out for the season, with a torn ACL), and Laurent Robinson (mid-foot sprain). Keenan Burton would be starting, considering the injures to Avery and Robinson, but Burton is injured as well (swollen knee), and will also be held out of the game. Danny Amendola is currently the team's top, healthy receiver, but the Rams might not risk Amendola, due to the other injuries. Mardy Gilyard should get a decent amount of reps; and it will also be interesting to see if Denario Alexander makes his debut as a Ram.

Star running-back Steven Jackson will be limited. He might play the first series, or two, with Bradford; but the Rams will likely pull him early. Kenneth Darby, Keith Toston, and Chris Ogbannaya will get the majority of the carries on the ground.

The Rams' defense had a solid showing against the Patriots last week. But the defensive backfield continues to struggle against the pass. The weak pass defense, so far this preseason, could possibly be due to the lack of a consistent pass rush. Look for the Rams to call more blitzes in order to utilize the linebackers into the pass rush; and also, watch for Chris Long to elevate his game. Those two aspects may improve the pass rush, and the pass defense in general.   

Starting players barely play in the last preseason game. It is usually a series or two, and then they are pulled. It would be nice to see if Bradford can move the ball against a top defense, like Baltimore; because that could give him an extra confidence boost before the season, and it will make the decision (who to start at QB?) easier for coach Spagnuolo (as if it's not already an easy decision).

But the primary goals of this game should be- 1) Don't get any key players injured; And 2) Play the back-ups as much as possible, so the coaches can make an educated decision on who makes the roster, and who gets cut. 

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