It’s week two of four in the preseason and the Lions will be playing against the Baltimore Ravens on national TV. While preseason might not mean much in terms of wins and losses, it does offer coaches, media and fans a chance to evaluate the players. Both the Lions and the Ravens have high expectations this season. The Lions made it to their first playoff game in over a decade and the Ravens were a field goal away from a trip to the Superbowl.
What’s interesting about this match up is how these two teams are built. The Lions’ have one of the most explosive offenses led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, while the Ravens are built around future hall of famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Going into this match up I’m curious about two things, Can the Lions’ run against the Ravens’ defense? And, can the Raven’s defense contain Matthew Stafford and his onslaught of receivers?
Baltimore’s defense has been dominant for a decade. With that said, most of their big named defensive players are on the downside of their career (Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, etc.) and Baltimore will be without reigning defensive player of the year Terrell Suggs, who tore his Achilles tendon this off season. However, the Ravens defense is still going to be one of the top units in the NFL this year as some of their young talent such as Jimmy Smith and Courtney Upshaw are learning from the best.
Unfortunately this is just the preseason so we won’t see much of either teams starters, but the game will still be entertaining as each teams’ second unit should emit the playing style of the starters, as well as give us a chance to evaluate the up in coming players for the Lions’ this season. I encourage everyone to watch as much of the game as possible as the Lions’ running back and secondary rotations are not set in stone.
Players to watch for the Lions’ Friday night match up against the Ravens:
Ronnell Lewis and Travis Lewis– The Oklahoma Sooners produced a plethora of talent that the Lions found appealing in the 2012 draft in Ryan Broyles, Ronnell Lewis, and Travis Lewis. I think each player is very intriguing and can help improve the roster, but it looks like Broyles will be sitting out at least one more week while he finishes his recovery from ACL surgery.
Bill Bentley– Bill Bentley has really impressed me. I was very skeptical about his abilities coming out of the draft, and to be honest, I was more excited about seeing Chris Greenwood in training camp, who the Lions drafted in the fifth round, than seeing Bill Bentley, as Greenwood is 6’1 with a 4.34 forty yard dash time, and a 43 inch vertical jump. However, Greenwood’s development has been put on hold as he’s recovering from an abdominal injury.
But, after seeing Bentley play, I am very impressed with his instincts. Against Cleveland, Bentley jumped routes and read and executed coverages like he’s been in the NFL for years. This is no doubt a result of the hard work he’s put in this off season. Bentley still has a lot to prove as Cleveland is led by a rookie quarterback who is adjusting to the NFL, and Cleveland’s receiving core looks like it is still in the developmental stages.
Patrick Edwards– Edwards is a fighter and might be one of my favorite rookies on the Lions’ roster. He was deemed a “miracle baby” by doctors because he was born at only 2 lbs. and spent three months in the hospital. He didn’t receive a scholarship coming out of high school until he tried out for Houston, and despite catching seven passes for five touchdowns and 318 receiving yards in one game, he went undrafted in the 2012 NFL draft. He also sustained a right leg injury in college that many thought would be career ending.
What I like about Edwards is the that odds always seem to be stacked against him, yet he seems to beat the odds every time. At 5’9 175 lbs. Edwards is trying to overcome the odds once more and make the Lions’ roster.