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5 Things To Watch vs. Redskins


The Washington Redskins will take the trip up Interstate 95 Saturday for a preseason Battle of the Beltways at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens and Redskins are heading into the 2014 season with high expectations, and this game will give both teams an indication of where they are two weeks before the regular season.

Here are five things to watch in the local showdown:

Final Dress Rehearsal
The matchup against Washington will be the final chance to see most of the starters this preseason. The first-team units typically play the entire first half and often into the third quarter, and then the Ravens rest their starters in the fourth preseason game. Quarterback Joe Flacco and the starting offense have impressed in Gary Kubiak's system, and the hope is that they'll cap off their preseason with another strong showing. The starting defense has been up and down during the first two preseason games, and they have a tough test against Washington's offense led by dynamic quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Ravens want to get a positive showing on both sides of the ball to head into the Week 1 matchup with the Bengals on a positive note.

Will Secondary Hold Up?
Injuries have hit the Ravens hard in the secondary, as cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (back), Jimmy Smith (chest) and Asa Jackson (ankle) will all be out this week. The secondary is a concern right now because of all the injuries, and the Ravens will once again give young players like Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks plenty of reps. The Ravens will keep a close eye on how their cornerbacks perform this week and then decide if they need to make any final moves to bring in another piece before the regular season.

Split Carries
The Ravens know they will be without running back Ray Rice for the first two games of the season, so they're preparing now. Running back Bernard Pierce started last week, getting him familiar with that experience. The Ravens may use Rice sparingly this game to simulate the first two weeks, and instead give Pierce, Justin Forsett and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro the bulk of carries. The Ravens lead the NFL with an average of 194 rushing yards the last two weeks, and the hope is to keep that going even if Rice is out of the lineup.

Defensive Front
At the start of training camp, the defensive front looked like it might be the Ravens' biggest strength this year. But then defensive ends Brent Urban (knee) and Kapron Lewis-Moore (Achilles) went down with season-ending injuries. Now the group has to experiment with who will take the reps along with veteran Chris Canty, and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees admitted this week that he's a little concerned about that position. The Ravens could try some new rotations this week to see what works.

Injury Report
Avoiding injuries is always the goal during the preseason. It's particularly important at this point, as both teams will cross their fingers for their key players getting through this week healthy. The Ravens have already lost three defenders to season-ending injuries, and they don't want to add anybody else to injured reserve. Head Coach John Harbaugh is already playing it safe by giving Webb more time to rest, and he'll certainly keep a close eye on players who have recently missed time. If the Ravens get through the weekend without any significant injury concerns, then that will be the biggest victory regardless of the final score.

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