On a night where the starters will play at least the first half with several playing into the third quarter, this is a good time for the team to fine-tune several shortcomings.
This amounts to a final dress rehearsal since the fourth preseason game is traditionally relegated to backups and players on the roster bubble. "Just see where we are, what we need to work on going into the first regular season game," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "Everybody knows we don't play too much in the fourth preseason game. This preseason game really shows where we are. "I think we had a pretty good week of practice and preparation. We didn't scheme or game plan for New York. We're really focused on what we're doing with our assignments and techniques." Defensively, the Ravens have given up 331.5 yards of total offense per contest while only being scored on for an average of 7.5 points per game. The Ravens have recorded three interceptions and 11 sacks.
Against the Redskins, though, they were soft in coverage over the middle and allowed some big plays to Anthony Armstrong and Santana Moss. "You never want to give up a lot of yards," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. "I think some of it was the secondary, some of it was pass rush, some of it was maybe not getting deep enough. Some of it was great throws and catches.
"We're not ready to panic by any means. That's something we addressed as far as what we had to really concern ourselves with this week, and they did it."
This week's opponent poses a different sort of challenge.
Two years ago, the Giants' bruising running game steamrolled the Ravens' run defense with 207 rushing yards.
Last week, the Ravens stonewalled the Redskins to the tune of 25 rushing yards on 14 carries. The Giants feature a prototype big back in 6-foot-4, 264-pound Brandon Jacobs and a smaller, elusive change of pace in Ahmad Bradshaw.
"They're a downhill team," linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. "You've got to bring it every play. You have to match them as far as being physical." The Ravens will likely be without rookie nose guard Terrence "Mount" Cody due to swelling in his knee. And inside linebacker Jameel McClain is dealing with a similar problem, but has predicted he'll play tonight.
"He just was a little sore and we decided it would be best for him to get a little bit more rest, but he's fine," Mattison said. "He's been doing a really good job by evidence last week, and that's going to be a big test this week again. The Giants can run the football, as we found out a few years ago, and we've got to make sure that we're ready for that."
The offensive line remains banged-up with offensive tackles Jared Gaither and Oniel Cousins sidelined with a thoracic disc condition and a concussion, respectively.
Tony Moll is slated to start at right tackle. The Ravens' first-team offense didn't allow any sacks last week against Brian Orakpo and Co. However, the Giants also feature a strong pass rush headlined by Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. "We did a pretty good job against the Redskins and we want to continue that," offensive guard Ben Grubbs said. "They've definitely got some talented guys over there, so it's going to be a test. We're willing to take on that challenge. "May the best man win. I don't take it lightly. It doesn't matter if these games count or not. It matters to us."
The Ravens have limited Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice's workload so far this preseason as a precautionary measure with for their proven all-purpose threat. He didn't touch the football against the Carolina Panthers.
Last week, Rice ran it three times for 17 yards. He has one reception for 12 yards. Rice said he isn't worried about getting rusty. "I've gotten tackled by our defense," he said. "We're one of the few teams that goes live. I'm not worried about the amount of carries I'm getting. I've gotten a lot of carries and a lot of work done in training camp."
Rice said he takes it as a sign of respect from the coaching staff that he's not being asked to shoulder a heavier workload in games that don't count.
"I think the coaches are smart," Rice said. "I'm definitely one of those guys who respects the fact that they are doing a good job of taking care of me. I'm getting my body ready not only for a regular-season game, but for the whole season. .. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon." The Ravens have moved the ball effectively, but only have one passing touchdown and three rushing touchdowns to show for their drives.
In many cases, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron says he's intentionally raising the degree of difficulty to test his offense's proficiency and ability to react to adverse circumstances., "I'm really trying to put on some ankle weights a little bit at times in the preseason to find out some things that we might not find in the normal part of the season," Cameron said. "I want to see the quarterback get completions when we get bad looks, when the defense really has the advantage." Plus, a lot of it comes back to not showing their hand as far as what they'll run during the regular season.
"I don't know if you could look at the stats, I think you've just got to look at how we feel," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "For the most part, I think the feel is pretty good between us. We're running our base offense. Obviously it's the preseason, so you don't want to show some things. "Some things, you're going to show because everybody knows you do them anyway. We didn't game plan too much for the first two, and we'll game plan a little bit for this one. It's not really about what plays we're running. We're just trying to go out there and effectively run the plays that are called."