Five things we learned about the Ravens in their 23-17 victory over Washington:
1. With Bernard Pierce suffering an injury, the running back position could be Ravens’ next trouble spot.
Pierce never returned from the locker room after taking a hard first-quarter hit from cornerback Brandon Meriweather. The Ravens will follow the NFL concussion protocol, and how quickly Pierce returns remains to be seen. Pierce has two weeks to get ready for Week 1 against the Bengals, but recovery time for concussions vary. The Ravens already know they will be without Ray Rice, who will serve a two-game suspension to start the season. Rice was on the sideline tonight, as rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro and Justin Forsett carried the load at running back. Taliaferro and Forsett may be counted on in September much more than anticipated.
2. A strong pass rush could really help the Ravens’ secondary issues.
The Ravens’ starting defense surrendered just three points in the first half, and got consistent pressure on quarterback Robert Griffin III. Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil was outstanding bringing pressure on Griffin from the edge. With Griffin unable to get comfortable in the pocket, cornerbacks Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks handled themselves quite well. The Ravens still need to get corners Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, and Asa Jackson back for Week 1. But their pass rush is going to be important, no matter who plays corner.
3. Steve Smith (six catches, 80 yards, one TD) was the best player on the field in the first half.
Smith capped his performance with a diving TD grab just before halftime. Think Panthers quarterback Cam Newton would like to have Smith back in Carolina? It’s early, but aggressively signing Smith seems this offseason seems like another shrewd move by general manager Ozzie Newsome.
4. Daryl Smith and C. J. Mosley make a tough inside linebacker combo.
Smith tipped a pass by Griffin that was intercepted by Mosley, who nearly returned it for a touchdown. Mosley is a talented player in a terrific situation, playing next to a savvy veteran like Smith. Mosley could have a huge rookie season.
5. Kyle Juszczyk continues to be a valuable weapon as a pass-catching fullback.
Not only does Juszczyk have terrific hands, he runs hard once he catches it. He should be a consistent playmaker this season.