Redskins.com's Stephen Czarda breaks down the key players and matchups to keep an eye on during Saturday's Redskins-Ravens Preseason Week 3 showdown in Baltimore.
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Starters and key contributors usually see their most action during the third preseason game each year, so, accordingly, the Redskins' first-team offense is expected to be out on the field longer against the Ravens than they were against the Browns and Lions.
Robert Griffin III could appear in this weekend's game after leaving last Thursday's tilt against Detroit with what was later diagnosed as a concussion.
If the fourth-year quarterback is indeed cleared for action, he'll surely look to create a rhythm after struggling to do so last week. In the preseason opener, Griffin III nearly connected with Pierre Garçon for what would have been a 60-plus-yard touchdown, but the wide receiver could not come down with the catch. Still, he finished that game 4-for-8 for 36 yards.
For the first time this preseason, tight end Jordan Reed may make an appearance after sitting out the first two games with a hamstring injury suffered earlier in the month.
On the outside, DeSean Jackson (shoulder) isn't expected to play, but rookie Jamison Crowder (hamstring) may get his first live game action after the Redskins selected him in the fourth round in May's NFL Draft.
With Jackson out, Ryan Grant is also given more opportunities to snag a few balls with the first-team offense and get exposure against top-flight cornerbacks in the league. A young offensive line will be tested by a potent Ravens front-seven, as Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses will likely be matched up against Timmy Jernigan and six-time Pro Bowler Terrell Suggs.
CLIP THE RAVENS' WINGS
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco continues to be one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the NFL, and last season with Steve Smith Sr. as his primary target, the Delaware product threw for career highs in yards (3,986) and touchdowns (27).
Smith Sr. – who announced earlier this month he'll retire at season's end – has only two receptions for nine yards in the preseason so far, but he always tests defenses with his toughness and skill on the outside.
In the offseason, the Ravens used a first-round pick on wide receiver Breshad Perriman, but the rookie has been sidelined with a knee injury and will not play against the Redskins.
Marlon Brown (back), meanwhile, was held out of the preseason opener before appearing against the Eagles last week.
A three-year veteran out of Georgia, Brown, in 28 career games, has 73 receptions for 779 yards and seven touchdowns in his career.
Kamar Aiken, originally an undrafted free agent out of Central Florida, is currently listed on the team's unofficial depth chart as a starting wide receiver. Last season, Aiken's first in Baltimore, the 6-foot-2, 215 pounder recorded 24 receptions for 267 yards and a touchdown.
RUN PAST THE BIRDS
The Ravens' defense that ranked eighth in the NFL last season. In the two preseason games to date, the Redskins are second in the NFL in rushing at 166 yards per game.
Alfred Morris will once again get a majority of the carries for the first-team offense, but Matt Jones and Chris Thompson, the team's third-down back, could get some action in the first half as well.
Through the first two weeks of the preseason, Jones has carried the ball 13 times for 82 yards – 10th most in the NFL – and had a touchdown recorded against Detroit.
Thompson, meanwhile, ran the ball five times last week for 37 yards. He's embracing his role as the team's third-down back and provides a different look for opposing defenses.
The Ravens have a veteran front seven that includes Chris Canty, C.J. Moseley and Elvis Dumervil.
In their preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints, former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram carried the ball four times for 15 yards.
Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Ravens' first-team defense surrendered 39 yards on seven carries in their only series on the field. Accounting for the struggles of the second- and third-team units, the Ravens currently rank last in the NFL in rush defense in the preseason, giving up 169 yards per game.
ANOTHER SHOT FOR YOUNG PASS RUSHERS
With Junior Galette suffering a left foot/ankle injury that Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said
he's "very concerned" about, and with Ryan Kerrigan unsure of if he'll suit up once again this week, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith, Jackson Jeffcoat, Houston Bates and Sage Harold could once again see their reps increase against the Ravens.
Murphy – who is the team's No. 1 strongside linebacker on the unofficial depth chart – has two tackles in the preseason. Smith, meanwhile, leads the team in tackles with 11 and Bates (three sacks) and Jeffcoat (two sacks) have pressured quarterbacks into untimely decisions in the first two games.
REDSKINS ON TV: Don't forget to catch all the action between the Washington Redskins and the Detroit Lions at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on NBC-4 and Comcast SportsNet!