With training camp in the rearview mirror and the regular season opener a week away, it’s time to take a look at the positives the Baltimore Ravens can take away from the preseason.
1.) Bobby Rainey
The undrafted rookie from Western Kentucky University looked like a longshot to make the 53-man roster when training camp began. He started training camp as the fifth running back behind Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, Damien Berry and Anthony Allen. However, the 5-foot-8 elusive back cut in the same mold as Rice impressed throughout the preseason. Like Rice, Rainey showed a penchant for being a receiving threat as he had 14 receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Rainey’s dual-threat ability pushed him past Berry and Allen, as he was officially announced as the teams third running back after Berry and Allen were both casualties of Friday’s final roster cuts.
2.) Billy Bajema
With nagging injuries to tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, eight-year veteran Billy Bajema got a lot of playing time in the preseason. Bajema did not disappoint filling in for the Ravens’ top two tight ends as he had seven catches for 48 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, Bajema did a great job blocking for the Ravens high-flying preseason offense, which led the entire NFL. Bajema’s veteran instincts helped the Ravens implement a new wrinkle to their offense, as offensive coordinator Cam Cameron introduced a no-huddle aspect to the offense. Dickson and Pitta both are expected to be healthy for the season opener, but Bajema is a solid third option at tight end should either player go down to injury again.
3.) Deonte Thompson
With Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin locks to be the Ravens’ starting wide receivers, there was still a roster spot available for another receiver to fill out the position. Enter undrafted rookie free agent Deonte Thompson. The speedster from the University of Florida impressed throughout training camp as he beat out Logan Payne and Dorian Graham for the final receiver spot. Thompson had 10 receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and also contributed on special teams, where he is expected to see some playing time once the regular season begins.
4.) Justin Tucker
Despite his costly missed 32-yard field goal in last seasons AFC title game, most people thought that veteran Billy Cundiff was fully entrenched as the team’s kicker. It wasn’t that Cundiff had a bad preseason, it was more that Justin Tucker did everything right and took the job from Cundiff. The undrafted rookie free agent from the University of Texas outperformed Cundiff in every kicking aspect, especially in regards to long kicks. Tucker led the entire AFC in preseason points with 29, and appears to have a bright future with the Ravens.
5.) Lack of injuries
The Ravens escaped the preseason with no major injuries and will have all hands on deck as they open the season on Monday Night Football against division rival Cincinnati. Of course the Ravens will be without the services of the reigning defensive player of the year Terrell Suggs as he continues to rehab from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the offseason, but no further damage was done to the rest of the roster in the preseason.