5 Things To Watch vs. Cowboys

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The Ravens will hit the road for the second game of the preseason to face off against the Dallas Cowboys.

For most members of the Ravens, this will be the first trip to "Jerry's World" – the appropriate nickname given to AT&T Stadium built by Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones – and the massive structure will be a sight to see. But the main attraction will be the players on the field, as the competition for jobs intensifies with the first round of cuts looming.

Here are five things to watch in Saturday night's showdown in Texas:

1.      Offensive encore
The Ravens could not have started the season on a much better note, especially the offense. Quarterback Joe Flacco and the starters marched 80 yards down the field for a touchdown drive in their only series of work, and now the group will look to build off that opening performance. Most of the starters will play between a quarter and the entire first half, and that means the offense is expected to get a few more reps this week. The hope is to build off the momentum from the preseason opener, and continue making strides heading into the regular season.

2.      Separation in wide receiver race
Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak said this is the tightest competition at wide receiver that he can remember in his coaching career. The Ravens have their top four targets set with Torrey Smith, Steve Smith Sr., Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown, but there is tight competition for the last one or two spots. Michael Campanaro, Kamar Aiken, Jeremy Butler and Deonte Thompson are vying for jobs, and their performance in game action will likely be deciding factor in who makes the cut.

3.      Any cornerbacks step up?
The Ravens have some questions in their secondary, specifically at cornerback. Cornerback Lardarius Webb (back) won't play this week and Asa Jackson (ankle) could also miss this game, too. Their absence creates opportunities for other players to get reps and potentiallywin a job. Plenty of eyes will be on Chykie Brown, who will likely start and is vying for the third cornerback spot. Undrafted rookies like Tramain Jacobs, Deji Olatoye and Sammy Seamster will also get plenty of playing time to show the coaching staff they deserve a chance on the 53-man squad.

4.      Defensive line rotation
The defensive line has been hit hard with injuries in training camp, as the Ravens have lost defensive ends Kapron Lewis-Moore (Achilles) and Brent Urban (knee) for the season. The injuries will force the Ravens to move some pieces around up front, and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said this week that he's unsure exactly what the team will do to fill the void. The defense has the next three preseason games to answer that question, and Saturday's game will be an important step in determining if the Ravens have to make any significant changes up front.

5.      New options in return game
The preseason is a chance to experiment a bit, and that's what the Ravens will likely do in the return game. The coaches know what veteran Jacoby Jones can do as a returner, but they want to get some unproven players a chance to show themselves as well. Jackson took first-team reps at kick and punt returner last week, but his injury could give other players an opportunity. Campanaro has worked at punt and kick returner, and he could likely get the first crack this weekend. If he has a strong showing in the return game, then it could go a long way in securing a roster spot. Other players like wide receiver Deonte Thompson and running back Justin Forsett could also see some action on kick or punt returns.

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