With two wins under their belt this preseason, the Baltimore Ravens have had plenty of players stand out, including several guys who are not household names.
These are the guys who need the preseason the most. These are either the guys on the bubble who need to impress to even make the final 53-man roster, or the guys who are looking for an increased role.
These three players have done everything possible this preseason to earn more regular season playing time.
After surprisingly making the roster as a rookie, Brynden Trawick had another uphill battle to make the team in his second year as a relative unknown. He is sadly most known for taking out Jacoby Jones in a Week 1 loss against Denver in 2013.
Yet, the special teams standout has stood out enough to insert himself into the conversation not just for a roster spot, but also significant defensive reps.
Most visible was Trawick’s stellar interception of Brandon Weeden against the Dallas Cowboys Saturday. On the play, Trawick read Weeden, broke quickly to the ball and made a spectacular grab.
Trawick is without question showing the ball skills and coverage ability to earn some reps on the defense, but a missed tackle that led to a Cowboys touchdown hurts his cause.
Still, there has been more good than bad for Trawick this preseason. He is well on his way to earning a roster spot for the second straight year.
At the beginning of training camp, Pernell McPhee was a question mark.
Now, everyone and their mother has noticed how well McPhee has played this preseason. He has been absolutely dominant, standing out with his intense pursuit of quarterbacks and ability to shed blocks.
Against both the San Francisco 49ers and the Cowboys, McPhee made a living in the backfield. According to Pro Football Focus, McPhee has already accumulated seven pressures in just two preseason games (subscription needed).
What has stood out to me personally is how versatile McPhee has been. He can rush the passer from the inside or the outside, as he has played as both a hand-in-the-dirt defensive lineman and a stand-up outside linebacker. He has even seen a few reps at defensive tackle in passing situations.
Whatever the situation, McPhee has excelled. On a team that seemed to have a dearth of young pass rushers, McPhee has earned plenty of reps this year while offering hope for the future as well.
For the first time in his career, Jones has given every indication that the big plays will come on a consistent basis, and not just in the return game either.
With five catches for 65 yards, Jones has been productive in just 35 snaps. Against the Cowboys especially, Jones’ catches sparked the offense.
Oddly enough, there were shades of Anquan Boldin in the way Jones played against the Cowboys. His tough catch over the middle for 38 yards seemed to help Joe Flacco settle in. The way Boldin was a safety blanket for Flacco in the past, Jones was Saturday in Dallas.
Obviously, Jones is not going to produce like Boldin did. He won’t get the opportunities, and he will need more than two preseason games to prove he is ready to be a big-time wide receiver.
Ever since returning from injury in 2013, though, Jones has looked like a different player in the best possible way. His preseason performance thus far has proven that growth has continued in the offseason, setting Jones up for what could be a very big season.
And with two more solid preseason games, Jones could force offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to make him an even bigger part of the offense.