Mike Preston: Ravens offense showed some positive signs Friday night

August 18, 2012|By Mike Preston

The Ravens lost to the Detroit Lions on Friday night, but I was fairly encouraged by the offensive performance.

The Ravens need to learn how to finish drives and avoid costly penalties, but the offensive line performed reasonably well against a strong defensive team. I was concerned a week ago, because the Ravens offensive line played poorly against the Falcons, but the group redeemed itself in the second preseason game.

Some might struggle with that observation, but the Ravens have been shuffling players on the offensive line since training camp began. Within the last week, though, the coaching staff has been able to work with a set group. The Ravens are set with three linemen -- tackle Michael Oher, center Matt Birk and guard Marshal Yanda. There appear to be two spots open among tackle Bryant McKinnie, guard Bobbie Williams and rookie guard/tackle Kelechi Osemele.

Williams will probably start at left guard in the season opener along with McKinnie at left tackle, and Williams' performance improved from a week ago. It will be tough keeping Osemele out of the lineup, though. He gets better every day. One problem that I have with this offensive line is that a lot of the guys seems to play high and there isn't good bend in their knees. That has to be corrected.

As for the rest of the offense, quarterback Joe Flacco made some outstanding throws Friday night. He struggled in the first quarter against Atlanta but has been hot ever since. Unfortunately, there were quite a few dropped passes Friday night, but running back Ray Rice was impressive and so was backup Bernard Pierce. I think the speed of No. 3 receiver Jacoby Jones will help and it will be hard to find two cornerbacks that can keep up with him and Torrey Smith on the outside.

If the Ravens offensive line continues to improve and they can protect Flacco, this offense could be exciting. There were some stupid penalties and dropped passes against Detroit, but those things can be worked out. The Ravens weren't dominated physically up front, and that's a good sign for this team.

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