The play of the Ravens offense was the talk of preseason.
Quarterback Joe Flacco was sharp. The new-look, no-huddle approach kept defenses off-balance. The group picked up yardage in chunks and looked poised for a breakout campaign.
The Ravens know that playing the Cincinnati Bengals in front of a national TV audience on Monday Night Football will give them an opportunity to introduce the new-and-improved offense to the country.
"Obviously, we want to go out there and put on a great show on Monday night and come away with a victory; that's the number one," running back Ray Rice said. "A lot of great players are made on Monday night. Those are the ones that are remembered."
During the four preseason games, the Ravens led the NFL in yards per game (390.5) and were second in points per game (27). The best showing was in the third preseason contest against Jacksonville, where Flacco and company put up 20 points in 2 1/2 quarters of work.
The key now is getting that kind of production to carry over to the regular season so that the offense can take the next step in its development.
"I don't think we have any reason to not be confident that we are going to take that next step," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "It's going to take a lot of hard work, and we're going to have a lot of fun along the way. But, we need to go out there and play well."
Flacco's progress during the offseason, along with the re-signing of Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice and continued development of players like Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, has expectations for the offense as high as they have been in years.
Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron has no problem with that.
"I'm excited for everything we're doing," Cameron said Friday. "The expectation thing keeps coming up and obviously we thrive on that."
The Ravens have used the no-huddle in past years, but not to the extent that they showed this preseason. Flacco expects to continue running the up-tempo offense in their first "real" game Monday night.
"We're just growing," he said. "We are going to get better and better at it."
Cameron acknowledged that they won't completely get rid of the huddle and added that the offense could evolve over the course of the season.
He also cautioned against putting too much stock in the first game, regardless of what happens.
"I don't think how we run it this first game is going to make or break us," Cameron said. "It's just the first of at least 16 and I think we'll want to play this game as well as we can and we want to get better and better and better and see where it takes us."