Players to watch in Ravens’ season opener

Ah, Merry Christmas. Football season is finally just a few days away. 

The Baltimore Ravens open up their season with an away game against the Miami Dolphins. In what should come as an easy matchup against a new-look Dolphins roster, there are a few key players who still need to do their jobs if the Ravens want to return to Baltimore 1-0.

Let’s rewind.

The Dolphins have been busy cleaning house in the last week and that is good and bad for the Ravens. With arguably Miami’s strongest offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil headed to the Houston Texans in a blockbuster deal with its wide receiver Kenny Stills, Baltimore’s defense should have a field day obliterating the OL and making it hard for the Dolphins’ offense to remain on the field. However on the flip side, Baltimore may have an issue with Miami’s young guys as it has not had much time to scout or anticipate anything from all the new players.

As we move into the opener though, these are the top players to watch on both sides of the ball:

Mark Ingram, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Ingram will play his first career game for the purple and black Sunday after leaving the New Orleans Saints in the offseason. A successful compliment to stud Alvin Kamara, Ingram should bring a strong presence in the run game for Baltimore. This is also Ingram’s chance to show the coaching staff that he’s better than former starter Gus Edwards and newby Justice Hill, and doesn’t need to be thrown in a committee approach throughout the season with them. If Ingram can secure the ball on the ground and snag some passes in the air, he would be a key player for the team Sunday. 

Willie Snead, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Snead has been laughed at when it comes to fantasy football talks this year, but he could be a sleeper. Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson desperately needs to attempt to throw the football to be less predictable to offenses, and the Ravens’ number one guy is Snead. Both on the depth chart and talent wise. Snead has struggled however in the open field when it comes to juking defenders and getting open, and although recently Miami’s pass-defense hasn’t been stellar, it’s most likely planning to keep a special set of eyes on Snead. Snead needs to give Jackson a successful passing option if Baltimore wants to move the chains.

Earl Thomas, DB, Baltimore Ravens

Oooooh buddy, welcome to your first game for Baltimore. The six-time pro bowler signed in the offseason to help the Ravens strengthen their defense. With a defense already keen on stopping the run and being intimidating in coverage through the air, Thomas has a great chance to make a lasting impression in his first game with Baltimore. In a depleted Miami OL, the Baltimore defense should get to starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and force turnovers.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Miami Dolphins

It’s hard to say whether we’ll see some fitzmagic or some fitztragic in Fitzpatrick’s first game with the Dolphins. Fitzpatrick signed a two-year deal in the offseason in Miami and beat out second-year QB Josh Rosen from the Arizona Cardinals in preseason. Fitzpatrick needs to keep his cool and understand that the Ravens’ defense is gunning for him if he wants to have any success in this game. The OL will be beat consistently and Fitzpatrick will take some hits. How he responds and adjusts to them will be the deciding factor in how this game goes.

Jason Sanders, K, Miami Dolphins

Although the season hasn’t begun and can only speculate how a team will do based off of what’s on paper, it’s hard to ignore that Miami will most likely be one of the worst teams this season. That being said, with all the new guys making starts for the team on Sunday, it’s unlikely the Dolphins will have many TD opportunities. However, Miami can still put drives together to at least get in field goal range. Their kicker is also very consistent, so the Dolphins could easily come away with points on many drives just because of the accuracy of Sanders. Miami finally seems to have found a kicker who doesn’t buckle under pressure, which it struggled with recently before Sanders.

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