Overall, it was an impressive team effort, with special teams being the team's surprising strong point. The immense depth of the Ravens' roster was on display, as they easily handled the Buccaneers once the starters were removed from the game.
Some players struggled mightily, but, for the most part, it was an admirable performance on the Ravens' part.
Here are the top performers from Thursday's preseason opener:
Perhaps the most impressive starter on Thursday night for the Ravens was newly signed inside linebacker Daryl Smith. He figures to be a starter when the Ravens travel to Denver for the regular-season opener, and he very well may be the best inside linebacker on the roster right now. While Josh Bynes and Arthur Brown shared the weakside linebacker duties with the first-team defense, Smith was in for almost the entire time the starting defense was on the field, recording four tackles.
Entering the game, one Ravens player who desperately needed a strong performance was wide receiver LaQuan Williams, who faces an uphill battle to make the final roster. He stole the show on special teams, recovering a fumble on a punt return as well as a recovery of a blocked punt for a touchdown. Williams didn't excel on offense, although he did have an impressive touchdown reception in the back of the end zone.
This year's preseason will be a much more facilitated process for second-year kicker Justin Tucker, who will enter the regular season without any competition for a roster spot. He's the team's franchise kicker moving forward, and the fact that he's the only kicker on the roster allowed him to handle the kicking duties for the entire game Thursday night. Tucker converted on all three of his field-goal attempts, with his longest coming from 57 yards.
Overall, the Ravens' offensive line had a rather successful night. It's hard to choose one offensive lineman who stood out above the rest, but Kelechi Osemele was the most consistent of the linemen. With Marshal Yanda out with an injury, Osemele is the team's best offensive lineman and he showed that on Thursday, easily handling his assignments.
One of the pleasant surprises of Baltimore's win was the stellar play of backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who showed command and poise as he effortlessly led the offense for the majority of the game. He finished the game 13 of 23 for 154 yards and two touchdowns. However, his receivers didn't help him out much, consistently dropping passes. Most of Taylor's passes were on target, and he also flashed his running ability the makes him a commodity for the Ravens. It's just one preseason game, but it appears as if Taylor is much more comfortable commanding the offense than in his first two NFL seasons.
Kyle Casey is a sports writer living in Baltimore, Md. He maintains his own football site, End Zone Report, and is the editor of Cat Crave.
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