The Ravens made a concerted effort this offseason to upgrade the special teams unit after some costly coverage lapses last year.
They re-signed their special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo. Then they brought in a Pro Bowl special teamer Corey Graham from Chicago and veteran Sean Considine from Arizona. Jacoby Jones was added to bring speed and experience to the returner position.
But in the first opportunity to show improvement in the preseason opener, the punt coverage team allowed a 45-yard return to Atlanta's Dominique Franks.
"It was really a classic situation where there were a number of things that all went wrong at the same time," Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said on Tuesday.
The miscues started with the punt, Rosburg said, as Sam Koch booted a low punt that didn't give the coverage unit enough time to get down the field. The coverage team then had bad angles on the returner, which allowed Franks to quickly slice through the middle of the defense.
A couple of missed tackles then allowed Franks to get to the sideline and up the field for a big gain.
"A bad play turned into a disaster, because we lost leverage on the ball," Rosburg said.
After the Atlanta game, Rosburg said that the coverage team has honed in on the mistakes and committed time during practice to fixing them.
"It's really a great teaching opportunity," Rosburg said. "You hate to see those happen, and we don't want them to happen at all. But I'll tell you this: It got attention in practice. We got a lot of opportunities to practice that this week, and I think we fixed some things that some guys perhaps didn't have a clear understanding on, and hopefully we'll be better going forward."
Ayanbadejo, one of the leaders of the group, is confident that the overall play on special teams will be better this season, despite the early preseason problem.
"You're going to see a much improved special teams unit this year," Ayanbadejo said.