John Harbaugh Wants Better Play From Ravens Reserves


The Ravens starters have performed well this preseason, particularly in the preseason opener against the Saints and Saturday night versus the Redskins.

Baltimore's backups, however, have largely been outscored by their opponents, leading to questions about the Ravens' depth.

Against the Redskins, the Ravens built a 13-0 lead,but were then outscored 31-0 for the remainder of the game.

Part of the reason is that many of Baltimore's backups have been essentially playing up a grade level due to injuries. The second-teamers have in some cases started, particularly across the offensive line. The third-teamers have worked with the second team. But other teams also have injuries and players filling in.

"I thought the 'twos' … I would've liked to see them play better against their 'ones,'" Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "When their 'twos' came in against our 'twos' and 'threes,' we didn't play well enough. That's really the bottom line, in terms of the big picture of the game."

The Ravens' second- and third-string defenses have been on the field for 23 drives over the three preseason games. They've surrendered eight touchdowns, eight field-goal attempts (six converted) and gotten seven stops.

When starting quarterback Joe Flacco hasn't been on the field, the Ravens' second- and third-string offenses have had 23 complete drives (those not ending at halftime or the end of the game). They've recorded four touchdowns, four field goals, four interceptions and 11 punts or turnovers on down.

On offense, some backups will be required to take on a bigger role quickly. One such player is rookie running back Buck Allen, who had a tough night Saturday considering he fumbled at the goal line. Harbaugh said it will be a "learning experience" for Allen.

Rookie cornerback Tray Walker was one reserve defensive player who struggled against the Skins. According to Pro Football Focus, Walker was targeted six times and gave up six catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. He also missed a tackle that allowed a receiver to pick up more than 20 yards of extra yardage and set the Skins up for another score.

After the game, Harbaugh said he'd like to see more confidence from Walker in coverage and that he needs to work on proper form, head-up tackling.

The Ravens have a lot of youth in their reserves, and they've been thrust into the action this preseason due to a litany of injuries. In Thursday's preseason finale in Atlanta, it will be their final chance to prove that they could step up if needed during the regular season before the team cuts the roster down to 53.

"They have been challenged, have seen a lot of growth," Harbaugh said. "It's preseason; we expect them to go out there and play as well as the guy that was out there before them, in front of them. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. But, it's certainly an opportunity for those guys to make a name for themselves."

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