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Eisenberg: Five Opinions On Recent Ravens Developments


The second preseason game is a disposable football item, pretty much forgotten as soon as it ends.

But before we move on from (and forget about) the Ravens' 19-18 win in Indianapolis over the weekend, it's worth noting that their performance included classic blueprints for a) how to win a game, and b) how to lose a game.

They won an up-for-grabs contest by a point because their defense delivered a big, difference-making play, the kind the whole team struggled to produce a year ago. Anthony Levine Sr.'s pick-six, which was actually a pick-two because it occurred on a two-point conversion attempt, literally provided the margin of difference.

Preseason results are quickly forgotten, but after a spate of close losses sent the Ravens spiraling in 2015, I don't think it hurts to hone the right kind of playmaking. "We found a way to win, which is not something to be taken lightly," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday.

But Levine's pick is the only one the Ravens have registered in two preseason games, and that's a bit unsettling given how much effort the organization has put into increasing the team's interception total after it set a franchise-low record last season.

Yes, the defense did force and recover a fumble for the second straight week, but a dearth of picks and 11 penalties for 91 yards (the Ravens' flag totals from Indy) are the classic recipe for unhappiness on Sundays, as the Ravens know all too well.

When Harbaugh used adjectives such as "absurd" and "ridiculous" to describe Dennis Pitta's broken finger Monday, I'm guessing he was referring to the fact that Pitta was hurt in a training camp scuffle, the ultimate avoidable circumstance, yet has now missed more than three weeks of practices and games – work he badly needs after playing in just seven games since 2013.

A prolonged, poorly-timed absence can put a player's job in jeopardy, especially when a team is deep at his position, as the Ravens are at Pitta's. But Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams have already missed time with injuries since camp opened, highlighting the importance of having more useful tight ends than you think you need. And since Pitta has great chemistry with Joe Flacco, he's safe despite the Ravens' frustration with how his latest injury occurred.

Soon after telling reporters about Breshad Perriman being activated off the physically unable to perform list Monday, Harbaugh was asked if Perriman could play in Saturday night's third preseason game. Harbaugh didn't rule it out, saying, "If he can play, I want him out there playing."

Perriman did hit the practice field Tuesday, an encouraging sign, but he "is not in great shape,' Harbaugh said. It's an understatement to say everyone, from the front office to the fans, is anxious to see Perriman finally play. But I'm thinking the fourth preseason game is a likelier spot for his debut.

Fourth-year safety Matt Elam was practicing and playing well enough to guarantee himself a roster spot and possibly even some playing time before suffering a knee injury Saturday night.

But the Ravens are in good shape at safety without him, leaving them with a tough call to make on Elam.

I can't see them giving him a spot on the 53-man roster when he could be out for several months. They could put him on injured reserve and bring him back later, but they can only do that with one player per year and might want to save the option for someone who plays more.

They don't have to make a move until they set their 53-man roster, so maybe they will have a better idea about Elam's prognosis by then, making the decision clearer.

My guess is they find a way to keep him, with the hope that he can return and play as well as he was playing this summer.

After the Ravens ranked in the top seven in the league in penalties and penalty yardage in 2015, according to, Harbaugh obviously isn't in a tolerant mood on the subject.

Rookie defensive lineman Willie Henry drew what could have been a game-losing flag Saturday night when he lined up in the neutral zone on what should have been the game's final play, giving the Colts a chance to attempt a game-winning field goal. The Colts missed the kick, but the sequence was reminiscent of last year's loss to Jacksonville.

On Monday, Harbaugh referred to Henry's gaffe as "unfathomable." Some penalties are inevitable, he said, but "you don't compound that by (committing) stupid penalties that are of your own creation."

Talk about a blueprint for how to lose a game.

Harbaugh did attribute a lot of Saturday's penalties to "young guys," but woe unto those Ravens who don't play smart in 2016.

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