Ravens review

BALTIMORE -- Observations, quotes and grades for the report card from a 12-6 Ravens victory over the Detroit Lions in Baltimore's preseason opener Friday night at Ravens Stadium.

QUARTERBACK: New starter Chris Redman struggled mightily at times. He completed half of his passes for 93 yards. He had a 43.2 quarterback rating. He dropped a snap. He failed to read the Lions' zone coverage for an interception to safety Brian Walker.

He compounded that mental error with another one, choosing to use his throwing arm to take on a Lions' defender. That's not smart, but it shows toughness, something Redman has plenty of, much more than last year's expensive failure, Elvis Grbac.

Redman held the football too long, though, and couldn't find his primary reads quickly enough. He completed his nine passes this way: four to wide receivers, four to running backs, two to tight ends.

"Have to start somewhere," Redman said. "I missed some things, but I felt comfortable and relaxed. The fumble on the snap bothers me. Can't have mistakes like that. I felt like we moved the ball okay, but the turnovers killed us once we crossed the 50."

Redman's mobility is better, too. He's not an upgrade to Grbac yet, but he's definitely more popular. Too early to write him off as a starter and there are several positive signs.

"Chris did some good things," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He was efficient and made some bonehead plays. The thing I like about Chris is he'll come off and know exactly what he did wrong."

As for veteran backup Jeff Blake, he zeroed in on his wide receivers for six of his eight completions.

The offensive line and receivers let him down, too. Re: Lonny Mitchell failing to keep running to bring in a near-perfect Blake bomb in the second half.

Blake was 8-of-15 for 75 yards and no touchdowns, but didn't throw any interceptions.

Rookie seventh-round pick Wes Pate mopped up for one 15-yard completion on his only throw. The Ravens can improve a lot at this position. The club converted only 4-of-15 third downs for 255 net yards.


RUNNING BACK: Tellis Redmon wasn't terrible in his debut as a starter in place of mending starter Jamal Lewis and injured backup Chester Taylor.

He wasn't great, either, gaining a team-high 27 yards on 10 carries. He picked out his holes well and didn't look too tentative. He seems like he could be a decent change-of-pace back for the Ravens, but he's no world-beater.

"Tellis Redmon helped us really well," Billick said of the rookie from Minnesota who also caught three passes for 21 yards.

Journeyman Derek Homer gained 15 yards on three carries, and rookie Dameon Hunter gained three yards on five carries. They didn't distinguish themselves much at all.

Fullback Alan Ricard got crushed a few times on blitz pickups and isn't extremely physical. Sam Gash probably needs to be signed.


RECEIVERS: There were some encouraging moments created here by a young receiving corps.

Top wideout Travis Taylor caught only one pass for 13 yards.

However, fourth-round pick Ron Johnson caught four passes for 50 yards.

Other than that performance and tight end John Jones catching two passes for 17 yards, no one really distinguished themselves.

Johnson is a definite physical presence.

However, the quarterbacks and offensive line cloud this evaluation because of their subpar outing.


OFFENSIVE LINE: This unit had some decent blocking on inside running plays, but converted right tackle Edwin Mulitalo had trouble with Lions elite pass rusher Robert Porcher.

Mulitalo didn't do well against Porcher's swim moves or inside pressure.

The centers weren't up to snuff, and reserve tackle Lawrence Smith looked like a human turnstile.

Redman and Blake need more time and consistency in front of them. New starter Casey Rabach did well at guard.


DEFENSIVE LINE: Rex Ryan's charges swarmed all over the place, despite the shuffle caused by injuries to starting ends Michael McCrary and Anthony Weaver.

 Baltimore had eight sacks.

Rookie defensive tackle Nate Bolling had two sacks. Marques Douglas picked up another.

Kelly Gregg and Maake Komoeatu were difficult for the Lions' massive offensive line to budge at the point of attack, and beat the Lions to the punch with quick hand movements. Komoeatu had four tackles. Gregg had two.

"I got to run around and hit people," Bolling said. "Coaches like that. I take the coaches' word at what they say to do."

Overall, this patchwork group overachieved against a Lions offensive line missing Jeff Backus, but still formidable nevertheless.

"On defense, we hit the quarterback a lot," Billick said. "Our inside guys did their job. There was a lot of good pressure."


LINEBACKERS: Another strong group performance.

All-Pro Ray Lewis' teammates are listening to him.

His partner inside, Edgerton Hartwell, had two sacks on delay blitzes.

"How about those young players against their first offense?" Ray Lewis exclaimed. "They're schooled. Think about it, we did that without six starters. That's scary."

 Rookie Bart Scott had eight tackles and a sack. Rookie Rod Taylor intercepted a pass. Converted defensive end Adalius Thomas moved easily at outside linebacker Shannon Taylor, playing for the injured Pro Bowler Peter Boulware, showed an uncanny burst upfield and some sneaky ability to penetrate the backfield.

The Lions' top rusher, Aveion Cason, gained just 22 yards on six carries while James Stewart (two carries, six yards) and fullback Cory Schlesinger (three carries, eight yards) couldn't do much, either.

Bernardo Harris made two tackles in his Ravens debut.

"I think we're going to have a great defense," Hartwell said. "We got out there and got after it tonight. You better watch out."


DEFENSIVE BACKS: Coached by Donnie Henderson with just one incumbent starter in Chris McAlister and missing new injured starter Gary Baxter, this unit did fine.

It won the game on rookie safety Will Demps' 18-yard interception of the third overall pick in the NFL Draft, Lions quarterback Joey Harrington.

"I just read his eyes the whole way, picked it and took it to the house," Demps said. "I've just got to cherish this and then go on to tomorrow. It's exciting to have Ray Lewis congratulate me. It was great."

Harrington completed 12-of-21 passes for 117 yards, no touchdowns and was intercepted twice.

Starter Mike McMahon went 8-for-20 for 65 yards and one interception.

Rookie cornerback Jason Olford broke up a pass to end the game. Safety Chad Williams made three decisive tackles. Alvin Porter intercepted a pass as a starter. Anthony Mitchell may have a competition on his hands with a possible all-rookie safety pairing of first-round pick Ed Reed and Williams a definite possibility.

Williams knows what he's doing inside the box.

Detroit was 5-of-17 in converting third downs.


SPECIAL TEAMS: Return specialist Lamont Brightful was intriguing, ripping off one 33-yard return to set up a field goal and he caught the ball smoothly, a cause for concern in practice sessions.

"Every time I touched the ball, I felt like I could take it to the house," said Brightful, a sixth-round pick who is replacing All-Pro Jermaine Lewis. "I remember watching Jermaine and idolizing him. We were both the same size.

"It felt good seeing someone his size, and I tried to the same things as he did when I was in college. I'm going to try to do the same things on the pro level."

Kicker Matt Stover made a 44-yard field goal, but rookie J.R. Jenkins out-did him on kickoffs and hit a 47-yarder, too. There was a missed extra point, though.

 "That PAT could have cost us the game

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