Ravens vs. Eagles: Behind Enemy Lines


Aug 13, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh stands on the sidelines during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints the in a preseason NFL football game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens are right in the midst of three days of joint practices with the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of their week 2 preseason matchup Saturday night.  Both teams ride into the 2015 NFL season with Super Bowl hopes amid talented and deep rosters.

As we look ahead to Saturday night, we wanted to gain some inside perspective.  To do so, we reached out to Anthony DiBona at our Eagles FanSided sister site, Inside the Iggles.

No matter who you’re rooting for, most of America will be watching this game just to see Sam Bradford make his highly anticipated debut.  What are your expectations for him in regards to playing time and performance?

This entire offseason has been an absolute whirlwind for the Philadelphia Eagles. Head coach Chip Kelly has made some drastic changes to the roster, making both controversial additions and subtractions. Yet Sam Bradford is the most important player of them all, the entire season rest on his shoulders.

Bradford is essentially that wobbly, teetering piece in Jenga that nobody dares to touch, except Kelly has a different way of thinking. He believes he’s just fast enough to pull the piece out without having the entire tower come crumbling down. That being said, Kelly has been incredibly careful with Bradford this offseason.

I’ll be surprised to see Bradford play more than a single series against the Ravens on Saturday night. If his first drive is a three and out or so, Bradford may come out for a second drive but I doubt it considering just how safe Kelly has played it thus far this offseason.

What under the radar player(s) should Ravens fans be watching Saturday night?

There were a few “under the radar” players that stood out during the Eagles first game against the Colts. Running back Kenjon Barner (#34), tight end Eric Tomlinson (#83) and safety Ed Reynolds (#30) all had impressive showings to start the preseason.

Not much was expected of all three of them, yet they each impressed in their own way. Barner had a highlight play with a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown while Reynolds managed to grab two interceptions while nearly getting a third.

But besides those three, there are still a few names to watch for. Second-year wide receiver Josh Huff has been dominant in practice but failed to show it on the field against the Colts. He especially seems to have built a strong connection with Sam Bradford. It’ll be interesting to see if that duo can translate their magic onto the field during an actual game.

Another name to watch for on the defensive side of the ball is veteran cornerback E.J. Biggers. When the Eagles initially signed Biggers, it seemed like a usual one-year veteran signing you sweep under the rug. But Biggers has stood out during practice and had an impressive performance against the Colts as well. After an awful tenure with the Redskins, Biggers could build his reputation back up in Philadelphia’s secondary.

Do you think that DeMarco Murray will see the field this week, and if so, what is a reasonable expectation for playing time and impact?

It’s amazing to see how Chip Kelly has handled DeMarco Murray this offseason. At first, it seemed like Kelly wasn’t concerned at all about Murray’s workload from this past season. But as the offseason progressed, it appeared as though Kelly wanted to take it easy with his crown jewel on offense. Murray has rested for several reasons during training camp, whether it was something with his “hydration levels” or Kelly’s decision, the case is certainly worth monitoring.

The way Murray is being treated would be typical with someone recovering from a major injury but that isn’t the situation. At this point, it’s hard to tell if Murray will even play at all during the preseason but if he does suit up, he’ll only play a handful of snaps. In terms of impact, he should continue to thrive as he did last year with the Cowboys and provide Kelly and the Eagles with more of a powerful, north-south running back.

How do you think the Eagles’ rebuild secondary will hold up against the Ravens this weekend?

Although they were without both T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, the Eagles’ secondary did a solid job against Andrew Luck and the Colts last weekend. They didn’t allow any deep completions, which was a major problem for the team’s secondary during the first two seasons under Kelly’s watch. Steve Smith Sr. will obviously provide a tough test for their secondary since they’ve struggled against small, shifty wide receivers in the past.

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One other thing to watch for in the Eagles’ secondary is the competition at nickel cornerback. After rookie JaCorey Shepherd tore his ACL during practice, the Eagles have tried multiple players at the spot in an open competition. Jaylen Watkins, Eric Rowe, E.J. Biggers and Denzel Rice have all received snaps in that spot so that’s something to watch closely on Saturday night.

What is your prediction for the game, and what player do you think will have a breakout performance?

While the end result doesn’t mean much, I believe the Eagles will pull-off a close victory, 24-21. But what will be most important is the play of the starters, specifically Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray if they suit up. As far as breakout performers go, I believe Josh Huff will have the game we’ve all been waiting for, especially if Bradford is running the show. Here’s to a good, clean and healthy game!

Next: Terrence Brooks continues to amaze

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