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Flacco says Ravens offense is good, must get better

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Quarterback Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens mostly likes what he has seen out of the offensive starters over three preseason games.

Still, questions linger over whether Flacco has enough weapons at his disposal to keep up with some of the other high-powered offenses around the AFC.

Injuries have also hampered the Ravens throughout the preseason and they hope to get healthy for the regular-season opener on Sept. 13 in Denver.

“I think, as a quarterback, you never feel totally satisfied where you are,” Flacco said. “We got a lot to do to get better, and I think we have a lot of things that have to play out before we get to Week 1 so we can really decide who’s going to be on the team. A lot of things are going to happen from today until the first time we lace them up.

“We’ve got to get guys healthy and just work on the consistency of everything, and cleaning our game up a little bit. I think it was a good little run, like I said, and now we’ve just got to build off of it.”

The biggest question coming out of the preseason is the health of first-round pick, wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who injured a knee on the first day of practice and has not played since.

Perriman is expected to be the Ravens’ downfield threat, especially after Torrey Smith left for the 49ers. So far, that plan has not panned out and veteran Steve Smith has been Flacco’s go-to receiver.

Another area of concern for Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has been with his second-team players, who have struggled for much of the preseason.

The secondary has been challenged with coverage and missed tackles over the three preseason games. Last year, the Ravens had five cornerbacks finish the season on injured reserve.

“They have been challenged, have seen a lot of growth,” Harbaugh said about the backups. “A lot of guys are playing probably a little ahead of where they are on the depth chart, in terms of the twos playing with the ones the last couple of weeks, and the threes playing with the twos probably more so than any (other) place, on our offensive line, obviously.

“It’s good for them. It’s preseason; we expect them to go out there and play as well as the guy that was out there before them, in front of them. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. But, it’s certainly an opportunity for those guys to make a name for themselves.”

Baltimore brought in several players, including safety Kendrick Lewis and cornerback Kyle Arrington for added depth, but the overall health of the unit remains a concern.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb failed his conditioning test at the beginning of training camp and he missed two weeks because of a hamstring injury. He returned to practice Aug. 31, but is one of the Ravens’ biggest question marks entering the season.

Baltimore has been hit hard with injuries on both lines. At least nine offensive linemen have missed practice because of injuries. James Hurt, John Urschel and Ryan Jensen each have sustained concussions.

Baltimore had four defensive lineman knocked out of the third preseason game against the Redskins.

If the secondary struggles, the Ravens will need to rely on the defensive line to pressure the quarterback and take some pressure off that group.

Notes: Cornerback Asa Jackson had a 103-yard kickoff return against the Redskins and he is the front-runner to assume that role heading into the regular season. Baltimore tried multiple players at the spot, but none of them has emerged as a better option. “That’s not for me to decide, that’s up to the coaches,” Jackson said about securing the returner role. … Tight end Crockett Gillmore, a second-year player out of Colorado State, was initially used as a blocker last year, but caught more passes when Dennis Pitta went down because of a season-ending hip injury. Gillmore, who is 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, has played an even bigger role this preseason as a pass-catcher and Harbaugh is confident he can carry the load on offense. … Left tackle Ryan Jensen left the game in the first quarter against Washington after he crashed into a defender and his helmet flew off. Jensen was diagnosed with a concussion and did not return. He had started because left tackle Eugene Monroe was out because of a bruised forearm. The Ravens have been thin on the offensive line for much of the preseason and it would be tough to absorb yet another injury.

Wide receiver Steve Smith was ejected in the first quarter of the Ravens game against the Redskins when he got into an altercation with cornerback Chris Culliver, who also was ejected. Smith has been Baltimore’s most productive receiver in the preseason. He caught four passes for 95 yards with a touchdown against Washington and bowed to the cheering Baltimore crowd as he made his way to the locker room following the ejection. “I’ll tell you, Steve played tremendously well,” Harbaugh said. “He played really, really great, and I’m excited about that, we all are.” … Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan went down with a knee injury in the first quarter against Washington. He was taken to the locker room for further evaluation and did not return. … Safety Terrence Brooks saw his first action of the preseason against the Redskins. Brooks tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee in December against the Jaguars. He had surgery and started training camp on the PUP list. … Tight end Maxx Williams missed Saturday’s game because of an undisclosed injury. He wore a non-contact jersey in practice all last week. The rookie is expected to be the backup to starter Crockett Gillmore. … Defensive lineman Lawrence Guy left the game against Washington with a knee injury. His status is uncertain.


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