This is the big one, fellas! The third preseason dress rehearsal game. Added to the intense preseason excitement (that's not an oxymoron, is it?) that naturally comes with the third preseason game, the swirl around the RGIII storm has already reached category five and we're still a couple weeks from the season even starting. The Redskins travel up to Baltimore for this one to face Aldrick Robinson and co. at M&T Bank Stadium. It seems the two teams play each other just about every year during the preseason probably because of their close proximity to one another. I talked to Nathan Beaucage from Baltimore Beatdown to get an update on this year's version of the Ravens. Thanks to Nathan and be sure to look for my answers to his questions over at Baltimore Beatdown.
1. Aldrick Robinson is a former Redskin. How has he looked throughout camp? Also, a lot of Redskins fans were interested in Nick Boyle late in the draft. Has he stood out at all so far?
Aldrick has been lost in the mix. He's stacked behind a half dozen or so very talented young receivers that are fighting for only a couple of roster spots. What's interesting is that the team is currently seeking a punt/kick returner, and Robinson has experience there. But strangely, I don't think I've heard his name in the returner conversation once.
Unfortunately for Robinson, he's seemed to be the odd man out since Day 1.
The same situation of lots of talent also exists at Nick Boyle's position, tight end. The dynamic rookie Maxx Williams, underrated red-zone threat Crockett Gillmore, and the ailing Dennis Pitta (on the PUP list) all comprise a very talented TE corps. While the selection of Boyle seemed to be a head-scratcher at the time, Boyle looks like an excellent blocker. While I'm not doubting the blocking abilities of the aforementioned three, their main draw is their receiving ability. A dedicated blocking TE is an asset the Ravens could use.
#2. How long should we expect the starters for the Ravens to play Saturday night? What will you (and Ravens fans in general) be looking for out of those units against the Redskins?
Traditionally, Week 3 is regarded as the 'dress rehearsal' for teams. Expect the Ravens starting squad to play at least to the half, and perhaps a little while after it too.
After last week's 17-40 thrashing against the Eagles, this team needs to show improvement. It was a disaster last week for the Ravens in practically every facet of the game. Almost every starter can do a lot better in this week's crucial 'dress rehearsal'.
#3. Who are some lesser known guys for the Ravens that 'Skins fans can get excited about watching late in the game Saturday?
Darren Waller, the 6' 6" skyscraper out of Georgia Tech has been on fire of late. He's looked great in camp, and on the field. While his preseason stats may not look impressive, his play has been. Waller, a sixth-round pick this year, was regarded as a guy with lots of potential, but someone who would ultimately be cut in favor of other talent. So far, Waller has done a good job of disproving that notion, but he'll have to keep it up to secure a roster spot.
Bryn Renner, the Ravens second-string QB, has been on fire of late. Renner is even challenging veteran QB Matt Schaub for the backup spot. For a young signal-caller, Renner has looked very poised and collected in the pocket, and even scored the game-winner in Week 1. The battle between these two is one to watch.
Defensively, both Steven Means and Quinton Pointer have looked impressive. Means, the versatile DE/OLB has been living up to his last name, becoming a force to reckon with on the front seven. Pointer, a cornerback, has been making his case for the roster with some very nice interceptions in camp. While it seems more likely than not that these two will make the roster, they will still be playing their absolute best Saturday night.
#4. What are your thoughts on Marc Trestman so far? What are the expectations?
I really like Trestman thus far. I've been quite impressed with the little play-calling I've seen from him. Trestman doesn't have to reinvent the wheel, as Gary Kubiak's offense worked very well for the Ravens, and it's what Trestman seems to have left in place. The team's offense this year will likely be very similar to Kubiak's scheme, with perhaps a few unique additions from Trestman. We do know that there will likely be an added focus on running backs in the receiving game. Our new coordinator may also air it out some more with Joe Flacco, who had his best statistical year under Kubiak last season. I'd expect Trestman to add some other things to his liking as well.
The expectations for Trestman are really just for him to continue what Kubiak did for us. Last year's offense was one of the best in franchise history, and the team just wants to improve on that. Consistency at the offensive coordinator position would be nice as well, as the team has gone through four since 2012, if I recall correctly.
#5. What are the top position battles on the Ravens roster at the moment? Who needs to have a big game for you guys Saturday night?
I kind of covered this earlier, but wide receiver is an immense battle. The team is loaded with young, yet unproven talent that is fighting over just a few spots.
As previously mentioned, the backup QB battle is an interesting one too. While many expected Matt Schaub to be a solid veteran rock should Flacco go down, the young dark horse Bryn Renner has challenged Schaub for the job. It's hard to see the Ravens rostering both, so this game will likely go a long way in determining who makes the cut.