As Zach told us yesterday, Coach Harbaugh will not be playing his veterans all that much tonight, and rightfully so. After a long layoff due to the lockout, some of the players are not in top-notch football shape yet, and would do well without picking up an injury in a meaningless preseason game.
With that said, you’ll be seeing many inexperienced Ravens on the field tonight, some of whom are competing for starting spots, and some of whom are just trying to survive with the team as long as they can. Here’s a list of five guys to keep an eye on tonight:
1. Sergio Kindle, OLB: The Ravens’ 2nd-round draft pick in 2010, Kindle missed all of last season with a very serious head/neck injury (as if you needed to be reminded). Instead of going out during free agency and signing a pass rusher, the Ravens are putting extra faith in Kindle this year. Look out for him to be eager to get to the quarterback tonight, as his role on the defense may be one of a sack specialist. He’s got a great mix of quickness and strength, but it will be interesting to see how he performs on the field tonight, playing for the first time in an organized game since the BCS National Championship 19 months ago.
2. Tyrod Taylor, QB: Joe Flacco is only playing a quarter of tonight’s game, so we’ll inevitably see a bit of both Tyrod Taylor and Hunter Cantwell. Taylor, a sixth-round pick in April’s draft, has great athletic ability and was one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the country while at Virginia Tech. The ACC Player of the Year last year, a knock on Taylor was that he wasn’t a polished enough pro-style quarterback to step in and make an impact for an NFL team. The Ravens are apparently very high on the 6’1″ signal-caller, and if he performs well in the preseason, he may find himself looking at a job as backup to Joe Flacco this season.
3. Tom Zbikowski, S: We probably won’t see a lot of Zibby tonight, but keep your eye on him while he’s in. With the departure of Dawan Landry, it looks like the Ravens may be opening up the position battle at strong safety, as Zibby, Haruki Nakamura, and newly-acquired Bernard Pollard will be scrapping it out for playing time alongside Ed Reed. Zbikowski was given his chance to make an impression early last season when Reed was injured, but often looked hesitant and a step slow on the field. You can bet he’s trying to use that starting experience to improve and be a real asset to the Ravens’ defense this year.
4. Vonta Leach, FB: Leach’s arrival in Baltimore may have been the most hyped arrival of a fullback in any NFL city. Fans are excited about having him as a lead blocker to Ray Rice, considering he paved the way for Arian Foster to lead the NFL in rushing yards last season. Also a veteran, Leach will not see a whole lot of time tonight, but keep an eye out as to whether he and Rice make a solid combination.
5. Jah Reid, OT: The Ravens’ third-round pick in April, Reid is already challenging for a starting spot on a thin offensive line. He and Oniel Cousins will be battling it out for the starting position at right tackle, and while Cousins seems to be the favorite, don’t be surprised if Reid, a UCF product, gets a hard look from the coaching staff. He’s a big guy, standing at 6’7″ and 324 pounds, and if he can become a consistent and mistake-free blocker, Reid has the physical tools to be a great lineman in the NFL.
Edgar Walker writes stuff, and pretty much all of it is about sports. Follow him on Twitter so that you can read more stuff he writes. Pretty much all of it is about sports.