To players, the Ravens' preseason debut this Thursday against the Washington Redskins serves as their first chance of the year to compete against a jersey that isn't purple or black.
But Baltimore's coaches won't necessarily focus on maroon and gold.
For them, what happens at M&T Bank Stadium will be all about the Ravens.
Head coach **John Harbaugh** said Tuesday that he will use the game as a gauge of how far his team has progressed after 25 full-squad practices.
"This is a training camp game," Harbaugh said. "It's an extension of training camp. It's not a practice. Obviously, it's a game. It's an opportunity to keep growing as a football team and growing as individual players. We're not game-planning for the Redskins. They're not game-planning for us.
"We're just going to come out and run our basic stuff – see how guys play, how they play together and how they execute."
The Ravens don't expect any drop-off from the high level of play that takes place on the fields of McDaniel College.
There is a constant play clock running to keep things crisp, and players are in and out of the huddle quickly to simulate game speed.
"We don't walk on this team," is a mantra that is constantly heard in-between periods.
And, the Ravens have the benefit of pitting an up-and-coming offense against a stout defense on a daily basis, which is an excellent preparation for an opponent.
"These practices, the good news for us, are pretty much like games," said offensive coordinator **Cam Cameron** on Monday. "We put a lot of stock into these practices because of going against our defense. This is, especially the last three days, our defense has really stepped up.
"These last three practices are probably as tough of offensive practices that I've been a part of. Now, the game is another set of evaluation, but our practices are very game-like, and I think that's a huge advantage."
Defensive coordinator **Greg Mattison** doesn't expect to show much variation for a unit that has been one of the NFL's most complex over the years.
Then again, he isn't so sure Baltimore would have to in a regular-season contest with the talent currently in-house, which includes a core of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata!(/team/roster/haloti-ngata/9225ada6-37a5-4b66-9776-1b6e4df2fb50/ "Haloti Ngata"), linebacker Ray Lewis!(/team/roster/ray-lewis/1c6d5ed3-fe49-4a89-a6b5-9e358e906ae7/ "Ray Lewis"), outside linebacker/defensive end Terrell Suggs!(/team/roster/terrell-suggs/ad26be43-1380-45f1-b047-a91e850d9761/ "Terrell Suggs") and safety Ed Reed!(/team/roster/ed-reed/89ece203-7de4-4b40-9651-f16f4c3b7699/ "Ed Reed").
"We'll play a lot of our base," Mattison explained. "Our philosophy is we think that this year we can play base. You know, I feel like we've got the players that if they play like they can – and they will – you don't have to be real exotic all the time.
"You should be able to get pressure with a four-man front, and with our secondary the way they're practicing, you feel confident that we should be able to cover people without bringing overloads and pressures all the time."
At this point, however, the Ravens will likely play their starters around one quarter, according to Harbaugh.
That will give the coaches ample time to continue their evaluation of some of the less-heralded players on the roster.
"To me, the most interesting thing is going to see how the rookies respond in the game situation," Harbaugh said. "They've never been in an NFL game before. We know how even the second-year guys like Ray Rice!(/team/roster/ray-rice/9d941a20-0c76-412d-85fd-165a029d59e6/ "Ray Rice") are going to play because we've seen him play. The rookies, it will be new for them.
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