Preview: Ravens Battle Buccaneers in Final Preseason Game
The Baltimore Ravens travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers on Saturday night. The Ravens look to finish the preseason off with a win after falling to the Commanders last Monday night, for the Ravens first preseason loss since 2015.
The Buccaneers recently named former AFC north foe Baker Mayfield as their starting quarterback heading into week one, as Mayfield beat out third year quarterback Kyle Trask. Mayfield is still expected to get some snaps Saturday along with many Buccaneers starters on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
The Ravens on the other hand will likely stay the course as very few starters have played even one snap thus far this preseason. Saturday night should be no different, with quarterback Tyler Huntley still sidelined, the Ravens will again turn to Josh Johnson and Anthony Brown Jr. But according to quarterback Lamar Jackson he would like to play a few series, although that is unlikely to happen. Running back J.K. Dobbins and wide receiver Rashod Bateman who both recently returned to practice have already been ruled out for Saturday night.
The final preseason game is important as its the last chance for some to make a case for why they should make the final 53-man roster, or at the very least make the practice squad. Teams must cut down from a 90-man roster to their final 53 by 4 P.M. on Tuesday August 29th.
Players to Watch:
Running back Melvin Gordon
Melvin Gordon was signed by the Ravens when the unknown if J.K. Dobbins and his status for the start of the year was still up in the air. Now with Dobbins having returned, Gus Edwards a lock for the roster, and Justice Hill making a case for why he deserves more offensive snaps this season. That leaves just Gordon and undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell.
Gordon has been strong this preseason given his opportunities, and has done well protecting the ball, given his prior fumbling issues. But Mitchell in his own right has wowed all camp, and given his speed, agility, and ability to play special teams should given him the nod to make the team over Gordon. Expect Gordon to get a lot of playing time Saturday night as he tries to make his case why he deserves the final running back spot.
Outside Linebacker David Ojabo
Second year outside linebacker David Ojabo for the first time in his young NFL career has now gone through an entire NFL training camp. Ojabo missed nearly the entire 2022 season with a torn Achilles, and that lost time during his rookie year is showing this preseason.
With very limited playing time last season, 2023 is essentially Ojabo’s rookie season and with that comes the traditional rookie struggles. Ojabo has just one tackle in two games and while he isn’t out their for the whole game, the Ravens have to be expecting more. His inability to get sacks and rush the quarterback thus far this preseason is a cause for some concern, but a strong night on Saturday could be the start to a strong regular season.
Linebacker Trenton Simpson
The third-round pick out of Clemson played in his first preseason game last Monday night after missing the Eagles game with an injury suffered early in camp. While Simpson has the athleticism to be a top tier linebacker, it was very obvious that last Monday was his first NFL game. Simpson struggled in coverage and tackling in the open field, although he did record one sack.
Simpson is a near lock to make the final roster, but must improve from his first game to show the Ravens defensive coaches why he can be a key part this season alongside Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith.
Safety Ar’Darius Washington
The Ravens secondary struggled last Monday night against Sam Howell and the Commanders, but one player that stood out was defensive back Ar’Darius Washington. The third year safety has struggled to find the field largely due to injury but through two games has recorded 11 tackles and three pass deflections.
The Ravens are in desperate need for depth in the secondary and Washington has the ability to be a key contributor both at safety and as a slot corner. Washington isn’t the biggest player standing at just 5’8″ 176 Ibs, but plays the game with toughness and has a great ability to attack the ball. Another strong outing by Washington on Saturday night will all but lock up his spot on the Ravens final roster.