Preseason 3 is connected by Verizon, Official Wireless Service Provider of the Baltimore Ravens.
Thursday, 08/22/13, 8:00 PM - M&T Bank Stadium (71,008)
TV: ESPN-TV | WBAL Ch. 11
Television Crew: Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Jon Gruden (analyst), Lisa Salters (analyst)
Radio: 98 Rock | WBAL-1090 AM
Local Radio Crew: Gerry Sandusky (play-by-play), Stan White (analyst), Qadry Ismail (analyst)
Jersey Color: Purple
Referee Crew: Pete Morelli
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Perhaps the Ravens' most important preseason game is Thursday night's ESPN primetime matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
The third preseason game is the one in which the starters see the most playing time. Some starters will play into the third quarter, according to Head Coach John Harbaugh. It's their chance to get on track after two rocky games to start the preseason.
The first-team offense has the most to prove, as reigning Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco has yet to put up a big performance and is still looking for go-to receivers other than Torrey Smith. The first-team defense was surprisingly not solid against the run in its last showing and is ironing out wrinkles in the secondary.
It should be a good final test for the Ravens as they are just two weeks away from the regular-season opener in Denver. They want to go into that game with some rhythm.
Matchups To Watch
CB Jimmy Smith vs. WR Brandon LaFell
Smith is coming off a rough showing last week against Falcons wideout Julio Jones. Smith lost focus of his technique. If Smith wants to make a final stab at a starting job, he needs to have a much better game. Like Jones, LaFell is a big-bodied wideout at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds.
TE Dallas Cark vs. LB Jon Beason
Clark didn't get any playing time in the Ravens' second preseason game, but has enough practice and familiarity with Baltimore's offense to see action this time around. With Ed Dickson's status for the regular-season opener in question and Dennis Pitta out, Clark could play a big role. Watch for his chemistry with Flacco.
WR Jacoby Jones vs. CB Captain Munnerlyn
Jones has just one catch in the preseason so far. While Smith scored on a 77-yard touchdown against Atlanta, the Ravens are looking for somebody else to step up. Baltimore hasn't attempted many deep passes this preseason (which is Jones' specialty), but it would also be good to see the fleet-footed No. 2 wideout make plays on intermediate routes.
Keys To The Game
Stay out of trouble
The Ravens' first-team offense has been hindered by penalties, turnovers and negative plays. Flacco has thrown an interception in each preseason game. If the offense can limit the mistakes, the unit should be able to move the chains more consistently. Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell said they need to turn it up a "notch or two." The starters should get the time to do so.
Shut down the run
Baltimore's front seven has received widespread acclaim this offseason. But it saw running back Steven Jackson and the Falcons have success during the last preseason game. The unit wasn't playing with its usual fundamentals, and it needs to get back to that to show that running on the Ravens isn't going to be so easy this year. The Panthers have a talented backfield with running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, fullback Mike Tolbert and running quarterback Cam Newton.
Get the injured guys back
The Ravens could have a couple big-time players suit up for the first time this preseason. Cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee) and Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) might receive snaps, according to Head Coach John Harbaugh. The team wants them to get in, make some hits and shake off the cobwebs. Keep an eye on them to see if they look to be ready for the regular-season opener.
2012 Review: Despite a 1-6 start, Carolina finished with a 7-9 record, tied for second in the NFC South. The Panthers' midseason turnaround included winning five of their final six games – and four straight to end the season – with Carolina falling short of a playoff bid for the fourth-straight season.
Ron Rivera: Rivera enters his third season in Carolina, where the Panthers have gone 13-19 under his guidance. Rivera inherited a 2-14 club and has improved the Panthers to six-win (2011) and seven-win seasons (2012). Including his 16 years as an NFL coach and nine as a player, Rivera has been with teams that have reached the playoffs 16 times, made eight conference championship appearances and reached two Super Bowls. Prior to joining Carolina, Rivera most recently served as "D" coordinator for the Chargers (2008-10).
2012 Offense: QB Cam Newton threw for 3,869 yards, 19 TDs and 12 INTs, producing a career-high passer rating of 86.2. Pro Bowl WR Steve Smith (1,174 yards and 4 TDs) led the team and recorded his seventh-career 1,000-yard receiving season. RB DeAngelo Williams averaged 4.3 yards per carry (173 rushes for 737 yards and 5 TDs), capped by a team-record 210-yard rushing output in the finale at NO.
2012 Defense: Four players recorded multiple INTs for a unit that tied a team record with 3 INT-TDs. Rookie LB Luke Kuechly (drafted ninth overall) set a franchise mark with 205 tackles, adding 8 PD, 2 INTs and 1 sack. Carolina finished fifth in the NFC with 39 sacks, led by DE Charles Johnson (12.5) and DE Greg Hardy (11).
• Panthers S Haruki Nakamura was drafted by the Ravens in the 6th round of the 2008 draft.
• Ravens WR Torrey Smith and WR LaQuan Williams were teammates of Panthers T Bruce Campbell at the University of MD.
• Ravens LB Josh Bynes and Panthers QB Cam Newton were teammates at Auburn. The two were a part of Auburn's 2010 National Championship team.
• Ravens T Michael Oher and Panthers DE Greg Hardy were teammates at Ole Miss.
2012 NFL RANKINGS
PRESEASON QUICK HITS
• The Ravens are 42-27 all time in preseason play. Under head coach John Harbaugh (since 2008), Baltimore has compiled a 15-7 mark in the preseason.
• Baltimore has won 14 of its last 18 preseason games.
• The Ravens are 22-13 all time in preseason home games, producing wins in eight of their last nine contests at M&T Bank Stadium.
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