Was Mark Clayton being showcased for a trade last night? He had 2 receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown in the Ravens win over the Panthers.
The Ravens opened the preseason last night with a soaking wet win, beating the Carolina Panthers, 17-12.
While the Ravens' first team offense was on the field, it was if they were saying, "Look ma! No Ray Rice!"
Rice didn't see a single play last night. The Ravens instead opted to use La'Ron McClain and Willis McGahee at the RB position. McClain was the only RB who ran well, averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
The absence of Ray Rice allowed the Ravens to come out and throw, and boy did they ever. On the Ravens' first play on offense, Joe Flacco hooked up with Derrick Mason for 23 yards. Anquan Boldin was getting double coverage on the left side of the field allowing Mason to skirt under the single coverage for the reception. Hopefully a coming attraction of what is to come this season. And we all know Boldin will get his catches despite the double coverage he will see often.
But ironically it was Mark Clayton who had the biggest night receiving. He caught 2 passes for 48 yards including a 30 yard touchdown catch. Are the Ravens showcasing Clayton for a trade? Could be...they do need some secondary help.
Boldin was mostly quiet on the night, catching 1 pass for a 12 yard gain. However, it was nice to see what a #1 WR can bring to the table, getting double covered and allowing the other WR's to practically roam free.
Flacco, meanwhile, looked like he was in midseason form. Aside from taking some sacks that he may have been able to slip out of, he looked great. The touchdown pass to Clayton was on a dime and he finished with an impressive 8 for 12 with 120 yards passing and a touchdown.
Marc Bulger took over for Flacco late in the second quarter, and looked a little rusty. He hasn't seen action on the NFL field since last November, when he went down with a season ending injury. Bulger still has a nice quick release, and throws a tight spiral. But last night he overthrew some receivers who were open. He finished 5 of 12 with 67 yards.
Troy Smith took over mop-up duty in the third quarter and couldn't get anything going. He completed just 2 of 6 passes for 18 yards. He did, however, score a TD on an 8-yard run, but it was set up by Prince Miller's 57-yard punt return.
I keep waiting to see something from Smith, being a former Heisman winner and all, and I liked what I saw from him during his starts in 2007. But since then, he hasn't shown me much of anything in the preseason games he's played in. I know he's playing with the 3rd stringers, many of which will be out of football in a couple weeks, but you'd think that Smith would show some flashes of talent that many people still think he has. I am just not seeing it.
The first team defense had some problems stopping DeAngelo Williams early, as do most defenses, but overall, the defense played well last night, sacking Panthers QB Matt Moore on a 3rd down and totaling 7 sacks on the night. And Cary Williams had himself a nice interception. Williams, who will be suspended for the first two games of the season looks to add some depth to a Ravens secondary that is banged up.
And on Special Teams, Prince Miller turned heads with an impressive 57 yard punt return that set up a Ravens touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Miller, a cornerback, could earn himself a spot on special teams as well as the secondary if he keeps this up.
So was it fun to watch football again? You bet...at least for the first half.
The Ravens play the Redskins in Washington on Saturday the 21st.