Five thoughts on the Ravens' 17-16 preseason win over the Chicago Bears Thursday night at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio:
All eyes were on rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, who made his NFL debut in what amounted to a glorified scrimmage, albeit one televised nationally from a field adjacent to the sport's cathedral of heroes. Jackson took the field in the second half and experienced some ups and downs, as has been the case throughout training camp. The good was a touchdown drive that he led and finished with a pass to fellow first-round pick Hayden Hurst. He also nailed a couple of downfield completions. The not-so-good was a series of stalled drives, sacks and three-and-outs as the Bears' defense pressured him hard and eliminated his running lanes, keeping him from breaking plays. Jackson had said his goal was simply to show that he's a maturing and developing pro quarterback, and I'd say he did that with his command of the huddle and offense. But it was a debut with some rough edges, no doubt. Hey, at least it was better than Joe Flacco's. Flacco fumbled his second snap and didn't complete a pass in his first pro appearance in August 2008.
Before Jackson played, Robert Griffin III started the game and handled the quarterbacking until late in the second quarter. He had more good moments than bad, especially on a flawless touchdown drive that he directed in the first quarter and capped with a scoring pass to Maxx Williams. Griffin's passing stats weren't eye-popping (7 of 11 for 58 yards) but he ran the offense like a veteran, threaded a couple of completions into tight coverage and used his quickness to dodge trouble. He wasn't helped by a young offensive line that experienced major protection problems. One of the Ravens' biggest roster dilemmas is whether to keep Griffin as a third quarterback, and it's hard to say whether this performance, against backups, would convince them to do it. But it was a solid start. The eternal question about any potential backup quarterback is whether they could jump into a game on an emergency basis and run the offense well enough to give their team a chance to win. On this night, I'd say Griffin showed he could.
I'm sure it wasn't literally true that NBC reserved one camera for following rookie tackle Orlando Brown Jr.'s every move whenever he was on the field, but it sure seemed as if they did. The Sunday Night Football crew, which was broadcasting the game, correctly identified Brown as potentially pivotal in deciding what the Ravens' starting offensive line will look like in 2018 and zeroed in on how he fared in his NFL debut. How did he fare? Pretty darn well. Although he was squaring off against backups, he appeared to seal his edge on most passing plays and didn't look overmatched. His first step was quick, as scouts have long noticed. All in all, it was a positive start for the 2018 third-round pick.
No player is under more pressure this summer than Breshad Perriman, the 2015 first-round draft pick whose NFL career has sputtered. The Ravens sent him a message when they picked up a sizable roster bonus at the start of training camp, and that message, quite simply, was he would still have every chance to make the team and carve out a role in 2018, despite his disappointing career thus far. But for that to happen, he needs to make plays in training camp and the preseason. He helped his cause with several strong practices heading into this game, but disaster struck almost immediately when a short third-down pass on the Ravens' first possession went through his hands and was intercepted. Perriman shook it off and made a couple of receptions later, but the botched early play was just what he didn't need, especially considering that Tim White, another candidate for a receiver job, handled the punt and kickoff return duties like a veteran, showing off his enhanced value.
Quick hits: Among the many bubble players vying for roster spots, third-year linebacker Kamalei Correa easily stood out with a big-time performance. He had six tackles, three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. It's just the preseason but moving Correa to the edge, his favorite slot, appears to be paying off … Another player who looked good: rookie inside linebacker Kenny Young, who used his speed to make several nice stops … Second-year safety Chuck Clark didn't need to do anything to prove his star is on the rise, but his interception on the game's first possession illustrated his nose for the ball … Patrick Ricard took snaps as both a fullback and defensive lineman before the end of the first half, illustrating the versatility that helped him make the roster a year ago.
Check out the action from the Ravens' preseason opener against the Chicago Bears in Canton, Ohio.