Baltimore Ravens: Top Performers from Thursday's Game Against Jacksonville
There were hardly any low spots in Thursday's game for Baltimore. The only negative from the game was that backup safety Emmanuel Cook suffered a season-ending leg injury.
But besides that, the night was filled with positives. The starting offense clicked in the new no-huddle approach, and the defense seems to have settled in after poor performances in the first two preseason games.
While the team as a whole excelled Thursday night, here are a few individuals who were the top performers for the Ravens:
After four years in a run-first offense, it appears that quarterback Joe Flacco has finally been given control of the team's offense, with more passing plays installed for this season.
Now, running a no-huddle offense, Flacco shined on Thursday night. Playing into the third quarter, Flacco completed 27-of-36 attempts for 266 yards and two touchdowns. He did have one interception, but it occurred with just seconds remaining in the first half on a play that Flacco seemed to just throw it up and give his receiver a chance to catch a touchdown.
Overall, Flacco had a near flawless performance against Jacksonville. If his performance on Thursday night is any indication of things to come, 2012 could be Flacco's breakout year.
After missing last Friday's game against Detroit due to an ankle injury, second-year receiver Torrey Smith returned to the field on Thursday night.
Smith was the focal point of the team's offense, as he caught eight passes for 103 yards. So far in the preseason, Smith's route-running looks much better than it did last year. Smith's ball skills are also much improved, as he hasn't had a problem with drops and has adjusted to the ball well when it is in the air.
The best defensive player for the Ravens on Thursday night was safety Bernard Pollard. For Pollard, the stats don't tell the whole story.
He only recorded three tackles in Thursday's game, but he made a much larger impact. Pollard was all over the field, impacting both the run and passing game for Jacksonville. While he is known for his run defense and hard hitting, Pollard excelled in pass defense on Thursday.
He appears to have improved his speed, which showed in his pass defense, as he was able to get to receivers as the ball was arriving. Pollard's ability to perfectly time his hits on receivers in pass defense was on full display against the Jaguars, as he made the biggest impact out of any Ravens defensive back.
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