Washington Redskins vs. Baltimore Ravens: 10 Things to Watch

Raj PrashadCorrespondent IAugust 24, 2011

Washington Redskins vs. Baltimore Ravens: 10 Things to Watch

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    The Baltimore Ravens (1-1) and Washington Redskins (2-0) will face off in Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium Thursday night to start off Week 3 of the four-week preseason schedule.

    The Ravens will look to continue their hot streak after demolishing the Kansas City Chiefs 31-13 Friday night in Baltimore.

    The Redskins will try to get a better idea on who their starting quarterback will be Week 1 of the regular season in their first tilt against the Ravens' stifling defense this season.

    Here are 10 things to watch for in Thursday night's matchup.

Baltimore Ravens: Will They Put Points on the Board?

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    The Baltimore Ravens offense looks like it took a step back from last season's productive year.

    In the first preseason game, the Ravens held tight to two field goals by Billy Cundiff, 53 yards and 34 respectively.

    Those were the only points the Baltimore unit was able to put on the board as they fell to the Eagles 13-6. 

    In their second game, Baltimore seemed to have awakened their offense en route to a 31-point drubbing of the Kansas City Chiefs.

    It took the Ravens until halfway through the second quarter, but Ray Rice found his way for a 26-yard score.

    His blistering run opened the floodgates for three fourth-quarter scores, all by different players.

    Flacco has yet to throw for a touchdown in the preseason, but the new receiving corps is making progress. 

    Look for Flacco to continue to develop a repertoire with his new receivers against the Washington secondary. 

Baltimore Ravens: What Does OL Bryant McKinnie Mean?

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    The Ravens announced Tuesday afternoon they had come to an agreement with Bryant McKinnie on a two-year deal.

    The former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman will help the Ravens at a position they are currently struggling with.

    Oniel Cousins and Jah Reid both have started at right tackle during the short preseason.

    The two tackles have drawn subpar reviews from the Ravens coaching staff, which sparked the McKinnie signing.

    Expect Michael Oher to be moved over to the right tackle position as the Ravens try to work McKinnie over to the left side.

    It is still unclear if the veteran offensive lineman will play against the Redskins, but keep an eye on how the offensive line holds up against the blitzing Redskins' defensive unit.

Baltimore Ravens: What Can Lee Evans Do in His Follow-Up Performance?

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    The Ravens traded for veteran receiver Lee Evans after letting Derrick Mason leave in free agency.

    In his first game with Baltimore, Evans notched three catches for 68 yards, including a 43-yard reception from Joe Flacco. 

    Evans is expected to line up opposite of Anquan Boldin as the season starts.

    The eighth-year receiver is entering his first as a Baltimore Raven, after spending seven productive years in Buffalo.

    Look for Lee Evans to get looks early and often as Flacco attempts to take advantage of the banged-up Redskins secondary.

Baltimore Ravens: Tyrod Taylor Must Be Consistent to Be Flacco's Backup

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    Tyrod Taylor's emergence as the backup quarterback to the injury-prone Joe Flacco is important to the Ravens' position as contenders in the AFC.

    The rookie out of Virginia Tech must maintain his composure as the Ravens give him key playing time throughout the preseason.

    In the Ravens first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Taylor completed 19-of-28 passes for 179 yards and two interceptions.

    Taylor was caught trying to do too much for the struggling Baltimore offense and was sacked five times.

    Taylor's second performance heavily outweighed the first, as the rookie completed 5-of-11 passes for 88 yards and one touchdown.

    Taylor will need another solid performance to solidify himself as the backup to Flacco.

Baltimore Ravens: Can They Shut Down the Red-Hot Redskins Offense?

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    The Baltimore Ravens defense is annually one of the best defenses in the league, but they will have their hands full against the Washington Redskins.

    The 'Skins had no problem torching the Steelers for 16 points in a Week 1 victory against Pittsburgh.

    The Steelers did not have their starters in, but Washington finished the game with more than 300 yards passing.

    In Week 2, the Redskins ended the game with more than 200 yards passing in another 16-point effort.

    The Ravens secondary will have to stop the Redskins aerial attack if they hope to keep their defense on track.

Washington Redskins: They Have to Score from Inside the 20

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    The Redskins have looked pretty good on their way to an undefeated preseason so far. 

    Their only real struggles are scoring inside the red zone.

    The 'Skins are 2-for-6 inside the 20-yard line and have looked utterly confused at times without their starting tight end on the field.

    The high-powered offense has combined for 536 yards and 31 first downs in their first two games but has struggled to finish inside the red zone in both games, combining for 22 total points.

    If Washington can move the ball as well as they have against the Baltimore defense, they should have plenty of opportunities Thursday night.

Washington Redskins: Mike Shanahan Loves Running Backs by Committee

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    Mike Shanahan's offensive game plans have been the same for years.

    Shanahan loves having multiple running backs on his roster and will take full advantage of having quality bruisers in his backfield. 

    In Week 1 against the Steelers, we saw Evan Royster, Tim Hightower and Roy Helu combine for 138 yards on 33 carries.

    In Week 2, the Redskins backfield combined for 191 yards on the ground against the Indianapolis Colts.

    Rookie Roy Helu led the way with 101 yards rushing on 14 carries.

    The backfield will stay crowded as long as Shanahan is at the helm, but which running back steps up in the third preseason game could be vital to who gets the bulk of the carries once the regular season opener comes around. 

Washington Redskins: Without the Pressure How Will Graham Gano Look?

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    The Redskins entered the preseason with a placekicker competition between Graham Gano and Shayne Graham. 

    S. Graham shanked both field goals he attempted in Week 1 and was subsequently released.

    Gano nailed all three field goals he attempted in that contest, including a 45-yard bomb.

    Gano matched his 3-for-3 performance in a Week 2 match against the Indianapolis Colts. 

    Graham Gano hit 24 of his 35 field goal attempts last season, but he looks confident in his kicking this year. 

Washington Redskins: Can They Protect the Quarterback?

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    Washington struggled in pass protection last season on their way to a pitiful 6-10 record.

    The 'Skins offensive line allowed 46 sacks, the fifth most in the NFL last season.

    They haven't exactly changed up the guard this season either.

    The Redskins have allowed six sacks this preseason—three in each of the last two games.

    If the Redskins expect to compete in the NFC East this season, keeping their quarterback healthy is priority No. 1.

Washington Redskins: Pick Your Quarterback

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    After trading Donovan McNabb, Mike Shanahan had a decision to make on who his starting quarterback would be for the 2011-12 season.

    Shanahan still hasn't made up his mind.

    In Week 1 of the preseason, Shanahan gave former Bears starting quarterback Rex Grossman an opportunity.

    Grossman completed 19 of 26 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown.

    Kellen Clemens finished off the game 9-for-17 for 105 yards.

    In Week 2, John Beck was given the starting nod from Shanahan, completing 14 of 17 passes for an impressive 140 yards.

    Grossman had his opportunity to shine, but faltered with a 7-of-12 performance for 88 yards and one interception.

    Clemens couldn't complete his only attempt.

    The Redskins will attempt to figure out their starting quarterback as the regular season draws closer, but one would assume whoever comes out looking the best against the stout Ravens defense will get the starting nod.

Conclusion

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    The Ravens and the Redskins will face off Thursday night at 8 PM on ESPN.

    Thanks for reading and please leave your comments below.

    Follow me on Twitter at @RajPrashad