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Tyrod Taylor, Keith Wenning Efficiently Move Offense


The Ravens have hard choices to make after Thursday night's final preseason game in New Orleans.

Not only is it difficult at wide receiver and cornerback, but also under center. Baltimore will have to decide whether to keep three quarterbacks for the first time since 2009.

Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor showed he can step in and move the offense as the starter, and third-string rookie Keith Wenning shined in the second half.

So now what do the Ravens do?

"I'll tell you what, we're going to have some tough, tough decisions to make to put this football team together," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

Taylor got the start, which is rare for him considering Joe Flacco hasn't missed a start since he came into the league in 2008. Thus, Thursday night was a chance for Taylor to prove he can be trusted if Flacco were to ever go down.

There has been persistent media chatter this offseason about whether the Ravens would bring in a different backup at some point. But Taylor has quashed any moves so far, and may have helped his cause further with a solid performance in New Orleans.

Taylor wasn't perfect, but he efficiently moved the offense down the field in the first half.

He finished 10-for-17 passing for 105 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and also rushed three times for 24 yards. With Taylor at the reigns, the offense scored 16 points and put up 250 total yards.

"I think we made some plays," Taylor said. "We were able to move the ball against their defense and get some positive things to build from on film."

Taylor didn't make any standout throws, but he consistently and accurately hit his wide receivers for shorter gains and moved the chains occasionally with his legs.

He opened with a 13-yard pass, then 27-yard strike to Kamar Aiken. He threw over Aiken's head when he was in the back of the end zone at the end of the first drive. The Ravens settled for a field goal.

Taylor's second drive didn't go as well. He came off a play-action rollout and launched a deep pass to Aiken, who was double-covered and slowed in his route. By the time Aiken sped back up, it was too late, and the pass was easily intercepted in the end zone.

On his third drive, Taylor scrambled once to pick up a first down. Then he hit wide receiver Deonte Thompson in the back of the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown. It was Taylor's third touchdown pass this preseason.

"It was encouraging of course," Taylor said. "Some of those drives, you want to finish those with touchdowns. But getting points on the board is the main key."

Wenning took over in the second half and also played well after having a disastrous first appearance in which he was sacked twice and fumbled. In his second chance, Wenning finished 8-for-13 for 117 yards, no interceptions and a near-touchdown.

The sixth-round pick hooked up with fellow rookie Michael Campanaro for a 39-yard gain down the right sideline, but Wenning's finest play came on an incomplete pass that was originally ruled a touchdown.

Wenning rolled out of the pocket and motioned for Aiken to cut back towards him. Despite taking a big hit from a defender, Wenning delivered a strong pass to the front corner of the end zone. However, after replay, Aiken was ruled to have stepped out of bounds before catching the pass, making it incomplete.

Still, Wenning may have shown that he deserves a spot on the Ravens' 53-man roster instead of the practice squad. If the Ravens were to release Wenning and try to get him on the practice squad, another team could sign the rookie off waivers.

"[Offensive Coordinator Gary] Kubiak and [Quarterbacks] Coach [Rick] Dennison prepared me well," Wenning said in a postgame television interview. "They said, 'You've been here preparing since May, so you should feel comfortable and feel ready to go. Take advantage of your opportunity.' I feel like I did."

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