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Game Preview: Ravens vs. Redskins


As far as the preseason goes, it doesn't get any bigger than Saturday night's third contest against the Washington Redskins.

It will be the Ravens' final dress rehearsal before the regular season, the final chance to build momentum heading into Sept. 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The starters will play into the second half, making the game as close to the real thing as the preseason will offer.

"This is obviously an important game as far as preseason goes, because it's the most we play," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "We want to go out there and play well and have the confidence to go into the regular season feeling like we're ready to go."

While the Ravens have won their first two preseason games, they have some objectives they'd like to check off before the regular season.

The first-team offense wants to start faster than it did in Dallas. The running backs want to take better care of the football after four fumbles in two games. The Ravens also want to see more from their passing attack, particularly with play action.

The defense wants to cut down on big plays both in the passing and running game. Baltimore's defense will be short-handed in the secondary once again with cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (chest), Lardarius Webb (back) and Asa Jackson (ankle) out, and will get a tough test from the Redskins offense armed with plenty of weapons.

"It should be a good football game," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "They're a very good football team."

Matchups To Watch

CB Chykie Brown vs. WR Pierre Garcon & WR DeSean Jackson
Brown has had an inconsistent summer, and this may be his final chance to prove himself before the roster is set. Brown is in a big position as the Ravens' top cornerback expected to suit up . He'll be tested by both Jackson's speed and Garcon's strength.

RT Rick Wagner vs. LOLB Ryan Kerrigan
Wagner has been named the Ravens' starter, and this is his final chance to put an exclamation point on his new role. Kerrigan is a strong, disruptive player that Wagner also faced off against in college while Kerrigan was at Purdue and Wagner at Wisconsin.

DT Timmy Jernigan vs. RG Chris Chester
There are high expectations for Jernigan, the explosive second-round pick out of Florida State. While he's impressed in practice, Jernigan has yet to land on the stat sheet in two preseason games. He'll be going against a former Raven in Chris Chester, an athletic guard who departed for Washington in free agency during the 2011 offseason.

Keys To The Game

Get passing game in gear
The Ravens lead the NFL in average rushing yards per game in the preseason (194), but their passing attack hasn't put up as big of numbers. Flacco was 9-for-17 for 113 yards and a touchdown in Dallas. The Ravens would like to see Flacco completing a lot of passes and have the first-team offense end the preseason on a high note.

Test the secondary
Brown and Dominique Franks will have their hands full with the Redskins passing attack. It's their chance to prove they can be solid against opposing starters and perhaps be ready to start themselves if injuries to the Ravens' top three cornerbacks linger. A standout performance could also put them more in the running for the No. 3 spot.

Protect the football
The Ravens have fumbled five times in four games. That must be cleaned up before the regular season. Backup running back Justin Forsett has been responsible for two of the fumbles, and he's battling for a spot on the 53-man roster, especially once starter Ray Rice returns from his two-game suspension.

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