The Baltimore Ravens will see a little bit of Aaron Rodgers on Thursday night in their preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. They’ll probably just shrug: The Ravens have won 14 consecutive exhibition matches.
Which doesn’t amount to a whole lot, when you think about it.
Except to John Harbaugh and his team.
“We like to win,” Harbaugh says. “The haters out there are going to have their own little snide comments. I think winning is better than losing.”
The last Baltimore loss in a game that doesn’t count was in 2015.
Baltimore’s retooled defense opened the preseason with four sacks in a 29-0 rout of Jacksonville, offering evidence that the loss of linebackers C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith may not be as serious as first thought.
Smith, by the way, is now with the Packers.
Second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson played in three series last week for the Ravens, producing a field goal and a touchdown while not running the ball even once.
For Rodgers, it will be his first game action since suffering a concussion in last year’s season finale. After sitting out last week’s 28-26 win over Houston, Rodgers will be seeking to get a handle on the new playbook installed by first-year coach Matt LaFleur.
“It will be a good test for our first time running this offense in another stadium on the road against a really good defense,” Rodgers said.
The Packers will not have running back Aaron Jones. Green Bay’s leading rusher from a year ago participated in his first team (11-on-11) period on Tuesday after missing six practices and the preseason opener against the Texans because of a hamstring issue.
LaFleur said he wants to see better tackling and fewer penalties from his defense. He said the defense missed 24 tackles last week that resulted in an extra 164 yards for the Texans. The Packers also committed 12 penalties for 102 yards, yet they are looking to start the preseason 2-0 for the fourth consecutive year.
EAGLES AT JAGUARS
QB Carson Wentz and key starters except maybe Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders likely won’t play for Philadelphia. The two running backs were the only regulars who played last week, along with TE Dallas Goedert, who is out with a calf injury. RT Lane Johnson and LT Jason Peters are out, so there seems no way Wentz plays without his bookend tackles. The Eagles also scrimmage the Ravens before they meet next week, so the starters will get their reps in a controlled environment.
Backup QB Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist last week on a late hit, even more reason to keep Wentz in bubble wrap. Cody Kessler and rookie Clayton Thorson will take the snaps. Kessler played for the Jags last year.
And Nick Foles starred for the Eagles when Wentz was injured, but he won’t play for the Jags, who signed him to a huge deal in free agency. Rookie Gardner Minshew will test CBs Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox and Sidney Jones, all competing for a possible starting spot for the Eagles.
“The volume of knowledge you have to know is so much more (than college),” says Minshew, who lost his helmet and mouthpiece in the preseason opener. “It’s a big learning curve. It’s slowing down a little. I understand not only what we’re doing but why we’re doing it.”
RAIDERS AT CARDINALS
Derek Carr figures to get on the field at least for a bit in the second exhibition game for Oakland. Carr said he doesn’t need much preseason action to get ready for the season but will be happy to get on the field anyway.
“It’s always good to get out there and compete again,” he said. “Any time you put a jersey on and helmet you’re trying to win the game, so that part of it. Just your routine and all those kinds of things.”
There is at least one starter who won’t play for Oakland: Star receiver Antonio Brown is still recovering from injuries to his feet suffered while getting cryotherapy treatment.
Top overall draft pick QB Kyler Murray’s playing time figures to increase from the one drive he led in the Cardinals’ first preseason game. But the Cardinals and coach Kliff Kingsbury continue to limit the play selection so as not to put Kingsbury’s actual offense — the one being touted given his college coaching background — on display.
Murray seems confident in his knowledge of it, no matter what plays are called in what might be two series of playing time Thursday night.
“I kind of know what it looks like. I know it will work,” Murray said. “It’s hard for teams to prepare for what we will do. We’re not game planning anybody right now. But I have confidence in it. Obviously we’re not giving everybody the full thing, but when we get out there full speed, moving around, it will be good.”
BENGALS AT REDSKINS
Expect heavy doses of quarterbacks Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins for Washington.
With Colt McCoy still dealing with the aftermath of leg surgery and fourth-stringer Josh Woodrum also injured, Keenum and Haskins could see a ton of snaps. Given that the veteran and the first-round pick are each new to the offense, they could use the work.
“It’s a good chance for those other two guys to get a lot of reps, so they’re taking advantage of those,” coach Jay Gruden said.
The Redskins are still without starting left tackle Trent Williams, a no-show at training camp amid a dispute with the front office.
The Bengals are looking for significant improvement on defense in their second go-around under coach Zac Taylor and his new staff. There were breakdowns in an opening loss at Kansas City, indications that the unit isn’t on the same page of a new system.
Andy Dalton led the Bengals to a touchdown on his only drive against the Chiefs, with running backs Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard held out to give the reserves a chance. Both are expected to play Thursday.
JETS AT FALCONS
Major addition Le’Veon Bell is uncertain to make his Jets debut. Coach Adam Gase, like the running back a newcomer in New York, isn’t saying whether Bell will play. But second-year QB Sam Darnold is coming off a terrific start with a TD in his one drive to start the preseason and could go into the second quarter with the starters. Keep an eye on the cornerbacks, where Gregg Williams has his work cut out for him with Trumaine Johnson out indefinitely with a hamstring injury in an already-depleted secondary.
The Falcons have been called for a combined 24 penalties in their preseason losses to Miami and Denver. Coach Dan Quinn wants to see fewer mistakes against the Jets.
“So many of those being pre-snap, we’re going to work like crazy to get those corrected,” Quinn said.
Quinn says most starters should see more time on the field vs. New York.
“Some guys need the work,” he said. “Some guys need the reps. We’ll take it on an individual basis but for sure we’re going to extend a lot more guys in this game.”
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