PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens’ organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors’ views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
The Ravens have suffered enough injuries already this preseason.
Thus, Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated that he won’t be putting his starters in harm’s way during Thursday night’s preseason finale in St. Louis.
“We’re going to be very judicious with our guys,” Harbaugh said. “We’re going to make sure that we come out of this thing as healthy as we can.
“We’ll have some guys playing that are going to be important to us – that have for sure already made the team and are going to have to play in this game. But, we’re not going to play a lot of guys as much as we can avoid it.”
Some players already on the team will look to expand their roles Thursday. For example, safety Haruki Nakamura is still learning how to play nickel cornerback. But the starters, including quarterback Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs will stay on the sideline.
Clayton Likely To Rest
If it’s up to wide receiver Mark Clayton, he’ll let his head and neck get a little more time to heal before the regular season opener on Sept. 13.
Clayton took a massive hit from New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle last Saturday night, leaving him with a mild concussion. The Ravens’ No. 3 wide receiver reported a clear head, but sore neck on Monday.
“I think because of how I feel with my neck and everything, just give me some rest and let my neck come on around rather than being in jeopardy of taking another shot or doing something else and now it’s worse,” Clayton said.
Expect Demetrius Williams, David Reed, Marcus Smith, Justin Harper and Eron Riley to make up the wide receiver corps.
Williams Hoping To Play
Williams sat out last week’s game against the Giants after suffering an ankle sprain during the Ravens’ second preseason game versus the Redskins. The ankle has been slower to respond to treatment than expected, Harbaugh said, but Williams needs to get healthy to win a roster spot.
“He does need to get out there Thursday night, and I know he’s shooting for that,” Harbaugh said. “And if he does get out there, I’m sure that we’re going to get him the ball and see how he does.”
If Williams can’t play, it leaves the door open for Reed and Smith in one of the more interesting competitions to step up for injured wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth.
Cousins Needs Snaps
Another player that has struggled to stay healthy is right tackle Oniel Cousins, who is currently penciled in as Baltimore’s starter with Jared Gaither sidelined. After being forced to sit out much of training camp after an offseason throat procedure, Cousins was again sidelined by a concussion.
Cousins hasn’t played in the Ravens’ past two preseason games, but Harbaugh expressed optimism that Cousins will see the field Thursday.
“I’m really hopeful for Oniel,” Harbaugh said. “That’s a game that he really needs to play. He’s missed so much with the OTAs and now again in training camp. He’s got a chance to be such a good player, so we’re hoping to get him out there. I think he’s got a good chance.”
If Cousins can’t go, veteran Tony Moll will likely get his third straight start.
Zbikowski, Washington Likely Out
Not only are they starters, but safety Tom Zbikowski and cornerback Fabian Washington are also a little banged up. Harbaugh said Zbikowski has a thigh bruise and Washington has a little bruise in his ribs. Both missed practice time this week.
Veteran Ken Hamlin, who is battling for a roster spot, will likely see a great deal of time at safety and cornerbacks such as Cary Williams, Travis Fisher, K.J. Gerard, Prince Miller and Chris Hawkins will hold down the outside.
Playing It Cautious With Webb
Although he went through a full pregame warm-up before last Saturday’s game, that was just part of the rehabilitation process for second-year cornerback Lardarius Webb.
Webb, who is still rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee, will not see action versus the Rams, Harbaugh said, and thus will not have seen any game action this preseason.
“We don’t want to risk a setback,” Harbaugh said.
Williams, Fisher, Gerard, Miller and Hawkins will be the main cornerbacks.