Baltimore Ravens' battle plans

1. Will Troy Smith cement his candidacy for the starting job? As the Baltimore Ravens take on the St. Louis Rams tonight at the Edward Jones Dome, Smith is expected to play the majority of the game as the coaching staff wants to evaluate him thoroughly.

His chief competitor for the job, Kyle Boller, isn't even expected to play, so a strong performance could allow Smith to seize the position and be named the regular-season starter. He'll need to be more accurate, though, after not even completing half his passes in the first two preseason contests with no touchdown passes.

2. How will Adam Terry fare in his first action of the preseason?

Terry underwent offseason surgery on his left ankle, then sprained the same ankle early in camp and just began practicing this week. He is slated to start at right tackle, and his pass-protection skills will be tested heavily by Rams defensive end Leonard Little, an accomplished speed rusher with 75 career sacks.

3. Keep an eye on the cornerbacks.

Besides watching starter Samari Rolle for the first time this preseason after missing time due to his father's death and a sore left leg, a roster battle is being waged between David Pittman, Derrick Martin and Ronnie Prude. The situation has been complicated because Martin, who underwent offseason right shoulder surgery, has experienced complications with his sutures and is out for at least this week. Chris McAlister (right knee) is probably out again as a precautionary measure.

4. Preseason debuts.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is scheduled to play 15 snaps or roughly a quarter after reporting this week and signing his one-year, $8.47 million franchise tender. Suggs will be tested at the line of scrimmage by Rams left tackle Orlando Pace. Meanwhile, tight end Daniel Wilcox may play tonight after starting to practice Monday after undergoing offseason toe surgery. Plus, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has recovered from a sprained right medial collateral ligament.

5. Will a third wide receiver emerge?

With Demetrius Williams still on the physically unable to perform list with a left Achilles' tendon injury, the Ravens are hoping someone will separate himself from the pack behind starters Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton. Rookie fourth-round draft pick Marcus Smith, return specialist Yamon Figurs and journeyman Darnerien McCants are the main options, but none of them has been especially productive.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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