Joe Flacco's First Hit
The biggest story in the third preseason game is the return of quarterback Joe Flacco to game action. Flacco has had as smooth a return from knee surgery as could be possibly hoped, and playing in a game is the final piece to the puzzle. It's Flacco's chance to feel live pressure, and possibly get hit, for the first time in nine months, and even he's curious to see how he'll respond. Does Flacco shy away from contact? Does he still step and throw into the teeth of an oncoming rush? Not only is Flacco looking to get over any mental or physical hurdle, but he's also looking to have a good outing to instill momentum and confidence in the offense.
Will Terrell Suggs Or Breshad Perriman Suit Up?
Head Coach John Harbaugh said wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. won't play against the Lions, but there's no final word on linebacker Terrell Suggs or wide receiver Breshad Perriman. Suggs suffered his Achilles injury months before Smith and returned a week earlier. If the Ravens feel it would be beneficial for Suggs to knock some of the rust off, they could give him a limited number of snaps Saturday night. The Ravens want to get Perriman as many reps as possible, but he was still not practicing at 100 percent earlier this week, so it's a matter of whether doctors clear him.
Scheming Starting Defense
The Ravens' first-team defense has yielded long drives to open each preseason game thus far. The run defense has been somewhat shaky, and Baltimore would like to clean that up before heading into the regular season. The secondary will get another test versus Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and the pass rush will be unleashed. The Ravens defense hardly schemed the first two preseason opponents, but it watched film this time around.
Impact Of Veteran Additions
Tight end Benjamin Watson and wide receiver Mike Wallace will have prominent roles in the Ravens offense this year. While they have shined in training camp practices, Watson and Wallace didn't play in the preseason opener and didn't make a catch in the second preseason game in Indianapolis. Now that Flacco will be on the field, expect to get a first taste of what the veteran additions offer.
Running Back Rotation
Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman said he wants to get all four running backs involved in the game as the team is still trying to determine how it will juggle Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, Terrance West and rookie Kenneth Dixon. There hasn't been a clear winner to come out of the pack. Considering that the third preseason contest is the most like a regular-season game, it will be the best litmus test for the group.