faceoff: should the ravens' starters play longer in the last preseason game?

Offense needs the work

August 28, 2008|By KEN MURRAY

If ever there was a first-line unit that needed to play longer than a quarter in the meaningless fourth preseason game it's the Ravens' offense.

I'm all for letting established veterans on defense take a pass on this final preseason game. It doesn't serve any purpose at all for guys like Kelly Gregg and Chris McAlister to be out there. We know what they can do.

But the Ravens don't have that luxury on offense. The quarterback situation aside, their starting tackles have hardly played. If Jared Gaither is going to protect the blind side for Troy Smith or Joe Flacco, he had better get some serious repetitions or Cam Cameron is going to have to plant a tight end beside him the whole season. Can you spell IR?

Gaither's competency/health will have a domino effect on the line. If he can't get it done, right tackle Adam Terry has to move to the left side and guard Marshal Yanda might wind up at tackle. Terry's best on the right side and Yanda is better at guard, so you can expect repercussions.

The offensive line needs the continuity it wasn't able to get in training camp. Except for a couple of nifty runs by Ray Rice, the running game sputtered. Who knows when Willis McGahee is going to show up. Or how long he'll hang around.

The receivers? Give Derrick Mason the night off because he's the only threat the Ravens have. The rest of the wide-outs should stay on the field until the cows come home or the Ravens find some guys who can catch.

As much as you want to avoid injuries, you have to remember that there's no switch to throw on opening day that makes this a viable offense. John Harbaugh started camp as a tough guy with lots of hitting. Let's end it that way. Let the first-team offense play for at least a half. And don't let Flacco go any longer than that. You saw what happened to Kyle Boller when he had to play behind the second line.

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