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Late For Work 8/30: Ravens Rookies' Fierce Collisions Flash Future (Watch)

Posted Aug 30, 2013

Gino wins? Split Rainey predictions. Clark unimpressive. Brown’s blocking. LaQuan's injury. QB rankings.

Rookies’ Fierce Collisions Flash Future (Watch)

The Ravens’ top two draft picks each played a significant amount in the preseason finale, which is an indicator they didn’t win their respective battles for starting roles in Week 1.

But that doesn’t mean the Ravens didn’t find themselves a couple fierce players.

Safety Matt Elam and linebacker Arthur Brown provided highlight-reel hits that were so hard you’ll want to watch them over and over. And you can with the GIFs below (mobile users tap “View in Browser” button).

1st Round Rookies Collide

Bloody Nose

The first collision came when fellow first-rounders Elam and Rams receiver and Baltimore native Tavon Austin met in the first quarter. Elam came out of the meeting on top.

After Austin caught a 14-yard pass, Elam came in rumbling and hit the small 5-foot-9, 174-pound receiver from behind, jarring the ball loose. Rookie cornerback Marc Anthony recovered the fumble, which eventually led to the Ravens’ first touchdown and lead.

A flood of past Elam tweets came to mind while watching the play: “Hit anything that moves,” “#EatGreedy for the heck of it” and “I say it's just the beginning!”

The rookie ended the night with four tackles and the forced fumble in a quarter of work.

Then there was the blow delivered by Brown to Kellen Clemens that not only knocked the Rams quarterback to the ground, but left him with a bloody nose.

“Talk about a fierce guy that knows how to play,” RAVE-TV broadcaster Qadry Ismail said. “No. 59 is a special player indeed.”

Brown remains listed behind Josh Bynes at inside linebacker and Elam has yet to win the safety starting role from James Ihedigbo, but if they continue to perform like they did Thursday night, they won’t remain backups for long.

“The Ravens' top two draft picks were impressive,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “The rookies both won't start right away, but these performances provide glimpses of the future.”

Gino Appears To Have Won Center Battle

Most of the starters didn’t see a single snap against the St. Louis Rams.

Gino Gradkowski didn’t see a single snap against the St. Louis Rams.

Coincidence? Probably not.

A.Q. Shipley, who has given Gradkowski an excellent battle, got the start Thursday. It was one start Shipley would probably have liked not to get as it was an indication that Gradkowski won the starting nod for Week 1.

“Sometimes in the fourth preseason game, the guys you don’t see play tells as much as a story as the guys you do see,” said RAVE-TV play-by-play man Gerry Sandusky. “On the offensive line, A.Q. Shipley did start tonight. Gino Gradkowski did not play. So reading in between the lines there, [you] would seem to think that they’ve seen enough from Gradkowski and he must have the edge on that battle at center.”

Split Predictions On Rainey

There’s no question that running back Bobby Rainey had the biggest night of all the Ravens.

His stat line doesn’t tell the whole story (13 carries for 39 yards).

Rainey made plays when it looked like there was no room to run. He notched two touchdowns when he was initially stopped dead in his tracks, but with tremendous determination and second efforts he was able to score on both occasions.

Despite his performance, there is still question about whether he makes the Ravens roster.

For our own John Eisenberg, the second-year back did enough to make the team.

“I was all set to give that last spot to Anthony Allen, a special teams ace, over Rainey and Delone Carter,” Eisenberg wrote. “But Rainey is just too much of a playmaker, as he has shown throughout the preseason.”

For The Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel, he just doesn’t see the numbers working in Rainey’s favor.

Either way, he will have a bright future in the NFL.

“If Bobby Rainey doesn't make the team, I'd be very surprised if another team doesn't pick him up,” The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec wrote. “Exciting player who is fast and tough.”

Clark Has Yet To Impress

Tight end Dallas Clark was signed just before the second preseason game, and he is still getting used to the Ravens offense.

That is likely one reason the 11-year veteran saw nearly half the offensive snaps (33) last night. Clark finished with just one catch for four yards on three targets.

Not an impressive night for Dallas Clark,” tweeted The Sun’s Aaron Wilson.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who signed just a couple days ahead of Clark, seems to have picked things up more quickly. Stokley didn’t see a single snap against the Rams.

“When the Ravens signed them, I thought Dallas Clark would have a bigger impact than Brandon Stokley,” tweeted WNST’s Luke Jones. “Not sure of that at this point.”

Brown’s Blocking Icing On Cake

After last night’s four-catch, 79-yard, one-touchdown performance, undrafted rookie Marlon Brown left little doubt in minds of a trio of Baltimore Sun writers that he will make the Ravens’ 53-man roster.

“Marlon Brown, another bubble guy, scores on a 50-yard TD catch. Have to believe he's won a spot on the roster,” tweeted Zrebiec.

Yeah, I think Marlon Brown is going to be on the team,” added Matt Vensel.

“I was thinking Marlon Brown had already done enough to make the team before tonight. This should cement roster spot,” concluded Aaron Wilson.

And while his 50-yard catch and run for a score was the highlight of the game, Brown also showed off a more complete game.

On Rainey’s 8-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Brown delivered an impressive seal block that cleared Rainey’s way into the end zone.

Marlon Block

LaQuan’s Participation Limited By Hamstring Injury

With Brown, Tandon Doss and Aaron Mellette all shining, fellow receiver LaQuan Williams sat on the bench … at least on offense.

Williams is also trying to make a case for a roster spot, but he only got on the field for special teams duty, which had some wondering what that meant for the third-year player.

Not sure what to make of LaQuan Williams not playing much on offense,” tweeted Zrebiec. “Good special teams player. He will make for interesting roster call.”

The Sun reported Monday morning that Williams suffered a hamstring injury in the game, which limited his playing time.  Williams is expected to undergo an evaluation today to determine the severity of the injury, Wilson reported.

Clayton’s QB Rankings: Flacco No. 8

ESPN’s John Clayton had taken heat in years past for saying quarterback Joe Flacco was “elite.” He was one of the few to give that label to the Ravens quarterback prior to his Super Bowl MVP performance.

Clayton considered dropping Flacco from his “elite” list last year, “but I'm glad I didn't.”

Once again, Flacco made it onto Clayton’s elite list heading into 2013, but his overall ranking is lower than some other national rankings (No. 4 for Ron Jaworski, No. 5 for Doug Farrar).

Clayton says Flacco is the eighth-best quarterback in the league, behind the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Matt Ryan.  The ESPN analyst doesn’t see Flacco getting much better, with his “arrow” pointing flat, because of the weapons he’s lost.

“Flacco gambled and won,” Clayton wrote. “Instead of taking less than $18 million a year on a contract extension, Flacco bet on himself and came up big. The Ravens won the Super Bowl and paid him $20.1 million a year. But Flacco has problems. He lost 50 percent of his touchdown targets – Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin. He has a big question mark at the No. 2 receiver position. He faces a tough challenge.”

Below is Clayton’s full list of elite QBs:

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

2. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

6. Eli Manning, New York Giants

7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

8. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

9. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

10. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans

Quick Hits

  • @jeffzrebiecsun: For all the hype about him early in camp, third-year CB Chykie Brown has really struggled this preseason. Having trouble finding the ball. [Twitter]
  • That was before his season-ending knee injury. Tough break … @jasonhbutt: D.J. Bryant with a sack. Could be a sleeper candidate for 53-man roster, similar to how Albert McClellan was a couple of years ago. [Twitter]
  • @ryanmink: So quiet at Edward Jones Dome that I heard #Ravens sideline yell "Ball! Ball! Ball!" I'm sitting in the rafters on the opposite sideline. [Twitter]
  • @baltimoreluke: Poor Dayne Crist. #Ravens. [Twitter]
  • @ravensinsider: Caleb Hanie gets the start at quarterback. Tyrod Taylor is doing fine, but had concussion symptoms last week. Has done well in tests. [Twitter]
  • @gdowning14: By Saturday afternoon, 700 players that take the field across the NFL tonight will no longer have jobs. Harsh reality. [Twitter]
  • @jeffzrebiecsun: He's made some plays and made a few mistakes but John Simon has played his butt off. He's been on field for like every snap on d and specials. [Twitter]
  • “The National Football League and more than 4,500 retired players, including former Ravens and Baltimore Colts, reached a $765 million settlement Thursday over concussion-related lawsuits.” [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Terrell Davis: Ray Rice is best RB after Adrian Peterson [NFL.com]
  • One week ‘til the repeat begins. [Visa Facebook]

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