Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Baltimore Ravens face off tonight, and we asked Baltimore Beatdown a few questions about the game.
1. With the injury to Ed Dickson and the departure of Anquan Boldin, how will the Ravens' offense change this year?
The actual answer remains to be seen. With Dennis Pitta out for the year and Ed Dickson sidelined for the preseason, Baltimore's wide receivers will likely receive an extensive look this preseason since the remaining tight ends are Visanthe Shiancoe, Billy Bajema, Matt Furstenburg and Alex Silvestro. Torrey Smith is the only proven receiver left on the roster with Boldin gone, though there's a lot of young but unproven talent throughout the receiving group.
The two receivers to keep an eye on are Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson. Both receivers will be used over the middle, especially without the presence of a go-to tight end. Thompson has elite-level speed, something Joe Flacco raved about on Tuesday. If the receivers show they're capable of producing, then the scheme won't change much in the regular season. If not, the Ravens could wind up searching for a veteran receiver in free agency or relying on the run game a little more.
2. Are there any sleepers on the roster we should keep an eye on during the preseason game?
I already mentioned one in Thompson. He went undrafted after a less than stellar collegiate career at Florida, where in five years he saw two head coaches, three offensive coordinators and three receivers coaches. That kind of turnover caused inconsistency throughout. He's been a quick study in Baltimore and could wind up the No. 3 receiver by the end of the preseason.
On defense, a sleeper to watch is safety Omar Brown. Brown was impressive a year ago as an undrafted rookie but wasn't able to latch on to the 53-man roster until December. This year, he could cement himself a spot on the unit with some impressive performances in the preseason.
3. How much will the starters play during the game?
John Harbaugh said there's a plan in place for how much the starters play. What that plan might be is unknown because Harbaugh didn't want to go into specifics about it on Tuesday. In recent years, the Ravens usually trot their starters out for about a quarter and bring in the subs after that. That should give both the offense at least two series' each, barring a long, sustaining drive from either team. There should be plenty of backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor this preseason, with maybe a dash of third-stringer Caleb Hanie. Flacco won't see much time until the third preseason game.
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