I’ve rarely seen the Ravens in such a state of mystery heading into their first preseason game. We still haven’t heard a definite timetable for Joe Flacco’s return to the practice field after a week-old back injury suffered in the weight room, so Ryan Mallett will get the start at QB against the Redskins.
The veteran offensive tackle they just signed (Austin Howard) still hasn’t been cleared by team doctors and trainers to practice, so that means James Hurst will probably start at right tackle. That’s probably not the guy you want to see playing right tackle if for some medical reason the Austin Howard deal goes bust.
Then there’s nothing written in stone at the running back position, either. Terrance West is set to start and Buck Allen is having a strong training camp, but—not really sure these are the horses to carry you all the way through a 16-game race.
The center position is still up in the air—as John Eisenberg recounts, after John Urschel’s retirement, Ryan Jensen and Matt Skura are competing to start, with Jensen seemingly the favorite. But the idea of adding a veteran has been discussed for months. Jensen’s preseason play will be carefully scrutinized.
Center is the one position at which you don’t want too many question marks. Trust me! In addition, cornerback Marlon Humphrey (undisclosed), wide receiver Breshad Perriman (hamstring) and left guard Alex Lewis (undisclosed) all didn’t practice. They have all missed multiple days of practice, which puts into question their status for Thursday night. Head coach John Harbaugh did not give any injury updates after practice.
The nickel cornerback position is up for grabs—with Tavon Young and Maurice Canady out with injuries, the Ravens may have to move veteran Lardarius Webb into that nickel/slot cover role.
At least Ryan Mallett has been looking a lot sharper in practice lately—Of course, Harbaugh wishes Flacco were on the field. “I wanted him here yesterday. I wanted him here a week ago,” he said.
Mallett has a chance to make a strong statement with his play Thursday night in the Ravens’ preseason opener against the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium. The problem is, with so many other question marks surrounding him on offense, Mallett may be fighting a very difficult battle just to keep his head above water against the ‘Skins.