Ravens starters hope to impress vs Panthers

John Harbaugh isn’t going to pretend it’s imperative that the

Baltimore Ravens beat the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.

If winning was important, the defending Super Bowl champions

would be looking at game film and studying the tendencies of

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. None of that occurred before

Baltimore faced Atlanta last week or before the preseason opener

against Tampa Bay.

”We haven’t game-planned either one of these games,” Harbaugh

said. ”The last game, we just looked at them for one day, a little

bit what they do, and played what we would call a camp game. We’re

not trying to scheme anything. We’re just trying to get good at the

fundamentals and then evaluate our players.”

Harbaugh intends to play most of his starters into the third

quarter. The hope is that they perform better than against Atlanta,

when the offense and defense struggled during a lackluster first

half.

After watching the Ravens fall behind the Falcons 20-7 at

intermission, Harbaugh had a quick analysis of what he just

saw.

”That first half was about as poorly as we can play,” Harbaugh

said. ”I can’t remember us playing worse since we came here.”

His assessment didn’t change much after he had a few days to

review the performance.

”We didn’t play fundamentally very well, and that’s the

issue,” Harbaugh said. ”I’m not worried about scheme or result as

much as how you play. And we put ourselves in a hole too much to

even get a look at ourselves. You can’t be in first-and-25. You

can’t turn the ball over. All of those things we’ve got to do a

better job of.”

Even though the Ravens won both their first two preseason games,

the object in this one is to put on a good show for the coaching

staff because few, if any, of the starters will be playing against

St. Louis next week in the preseason finale.

”I think it’s very important just for us to play well, more so

than anything else,” offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said.

”Any unit that takes the field, we want them to go out there and

be in sync, move the ball and put some points on the board. We’re

looking forward to that. In the third game, typically you end up

playing a little bit more. It depends on what John wants to do in

that regard, but we want to see our effectiveness and our execution

climb up a notch or two.”

Harbaugh said, ”We want to play good, solid football. We’ve

done that at times but we haven’t been consistent this preseason so

far. We’d like to see that.”

There will be more players to evaluate this time, because wide

receiver Brandon Stokley and tight end Dallas Clark are expected to

get extended time after signing contracts last week. Stokley saw

limited action last week and Clark did not play.

In his two games thus far, quarterback Joe Flacco is 14 for 18

for 175 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He’s still

getting used to a receiving corps that is without two of his

favorite targets of a year ago, Anquan Boldin (traded) and Dennis

Pitta (injured).

”Some of the guys are young guys that are new, some of the guys

are older guys – like Stokley and Dallas – that he’s getting a feel

for,” Caldwell said. ”He’s got his work cut out for him in that

regard, but I think you can see them starting to blend and

jell.”

On defense, the Ravens are hoping to get a solid pass rush from

Terrell Suggs and newcomer Elvis Dumervil, but defensive

coordinator Dean Pees will wait until before the Sept. 5 opener in

Denver to begin devising a plan to get the most out of the two.

”We’ll find out when the games start getting played for real,”

Harbaugh said. ”That’s when we’ll find out if it’s what we hoped

for. They’re both the real deal. Suggs is rushing the passer better

than I’ve seen in the time I’ve been here. And obviously, Elvis

Dumervil is as good as advertised.”

On the back end of the defense, top draft pick Matt Elam has

been solid. If he continues to show improvement, then the Ravens

just might forget about safeties Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed, who

became a salary-cap casualties.

”He’s fast and he’s tough,” Pees said of Elam. ”That’s what

you want in a strong safety. The guy will come hit you. . He still

makes the rookie mistakes and stuff that eventually he will get rid

of.”