The Baltimore Ravens travelled to Philadelphia this week for some joint practice sessions before their pre-season showdown on Saturday. With the game a little over 24 hours away, we decided to look at the five things you should be watching out for.
5. Turning a Corner
The big story this week has been that of Eric Rowe. The rookie corner out of Utah has been giving veteran receiver Steve Smith a headache all week. From swatting away touchdown passes to forcing the Raven onto essentially a tightrope along the sidelines. His coverage overall has been outstanding despite a few wobbles. When you mention Eagles cornerbacks, you think about Byron Maxwell who is expected to shine this year. Maxwell is going to perform, we saw it in practice and we will see it tomorrow. But if Rowe can contain Smith on the field as well as in practice then the Eagles are going to look fierce come week one. It’s a very telling sign if a rookie corner can shut down a receiver so decorated. Maxwell is the perfect tutor for Rowe and if the signs are already pointing towards two promising Corners, then the two could be set for a brilliant year.
4. Rookie Rampage
Whilst on the subject of rookies, it would be a crime to not mention Nelson Agholor. The USC product torched the Colts down the sideline for a touchdown last weekend and did exactly as Byron Maxwell predicted. If Agholor breaks free, there will be next to nobody who can stop him. After an impressive outing against the Colts, expect an increase in passes to be thrown his way. The more reps he gets, the more chances we get to see just how talented our first round pick really is.
3. Judgement Day
DeMarco Murray has not made much of an impact at all this training camp..purely because he hasn’t been there for most of it. He has been absent with “sickness” and despite taking a few days on here and there, has largely avoided pad situations or full contact drills. Murray didn’t take any reps at all against the Colts and is expected to pick up a few on Saturday. However, if Murray is absent yet again then it all but confirms that there is an underlying issue with the star running back. If he does take some snaps, it will be interesting to watch just how successful he is after missing out on a large chunk of camp.
2. Fancy a Curry?
It was confirmed earlier today that Marcus Smith will be out between two and three weeks with his recent hamstring strain. So who took his reps in yesterdays practice? Vinny Curry. Curry is naturally a pass rusher, obtaining nine sacks last season despite playing very few defensive plays. But his transition to Outside Linebacker has been a successful one so far. Don’t be surprised to see Curry in linebacker roles for the first two downs this weekend before moving over to a pass rushing role on third down. The team are light at linebacker position as it is but with Curry taking minimal snaps last season, his role could be about to grow hugely. Curry will become an unrestricted free agent after this year. Playing in OLB whilst the team ease back Kiko and company will lead to more snaps, more numbers, more versatility and potentially a bigger role in the Defense, leading the Eagles to pin him down for a longer deal. Watch out for Curry against the Ravens..the birds may just have tapped into a skillset that we didn’t know Curry possessed. A skillset that could see him become a tenacious linebacker.
1. BRADFORD’S BACK..SORRY…WE COULDN’T CONTAIN OUR EXCITENEMT ANY LONGER
Sam Bradford is expecting to play against the Ravens after Chip Kelly’s comments in last week’s press conference and it’s a moment so many Eagles fans have been waiting impatiently for. Bradford has been eased back from his ACL injury this off-season and is said to be excited to return to action. Some teammates have compared his arm strength to Aaron Rodgers whilst pundits have said he looks like a young Peyton Manning in the pocket. All we know is, he is healthy and he has been tearing up practice. Every single day in camp, he has thrown some incredible passes to Jordan Matthews as the two look increasingly comfortable with eachother. Not only that but Baltimore have struggled all week to contain the Eagles receivers. Whilst that point should largely demand its own extra paragraph about the prowess of Matthews, it means that Bradford has a great opportunity to show what he can do with his wideouts escaping coverage so well. It’s been a long road since he joined the team, but one all birds fans are excited to see where it ends up. The first step is tomorrow. Expect some laser passes and a tremendous show of arm strength. It’s time for the world to wake up on Sam Bradford. He’s ready, he’s primed and he’s going to tear Baltimore apart.
Oh, let’s throw in #TebowTime for good measure.