Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Saturday, August 25, 2007


1. As the Baltimore Ravens take on the Washington Redskins tonight at FedEx Field, expect to see the starters for the majority of the first half in their last extended workload until the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.Traditionally, the third preseason game tends to be the most important one for the first-team. All week, the team has talked about eliminating the miscues that led to a 13-12 loss to the New York Giants, including 11 penalties, a turnover and some overly aggressive behavior between snaps. Have the Ravens learned their lesson or is it still not out of their system?

2. New franchise running back Willis McGahee has only demonstrated flashes of promise since arriving at training camp, mostly on one 16-yard run against the Philadelphia Eagles. Although it was limited action and obviously hard to get into a rhythm, gaining just six yards on three carries against the Giants was a definite step backward. The run blocking needs to be better, and McGahee has to take decisive action like backup Mike Anderson does when there isn't much room to operate.

3. Quarterback Steve McNair forced an interception into heavy coverage of wideout Demetrius Williams last week, and he'll be without injured starter Mark Clayton (sprained ankle). That gives him an opportunity to build some timing with Williams and throw more to veteran Derrick Mason, who has one catch for 21 yards in two games.

4. This is an important night for second-year cornerback David Pittman as he'll audition with the starters since Samari Rolle is out with an ankle sprain. Team officials are extremely curious to see how this disappointing third-round draft pick from last year handles the pressure. Pittman, who drew complaints last season about his work ethic and study habits, has improved his attitude and drawn praise for his athleticism and coverage skills.

5. A few positional battles worth watching: Chris Chester steps back in at right guard as he tries to hold off rookie Ben Grubbs, Troy Smith vs. Drew Olson for the third-string quarterback job and B.J. Sams vs. rookie Yamon Figurs in the return game. Plus, will undersized running back Cory Ross, the team's preseason rushing leader, continue to impress as he tries to convince the coaching staff to keep five running backs?

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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