NFL Preseason Preview - Baltimore (2-1) at St. Louis (1-2)
By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - By the looks of their most recent game, the Baltimore Ravens appear fully ready for the start of the 2012 regular season. The expected AFC contenders will try to work out any few remaining kinks when they pay a visit to the Edward Jones Dome to take on the rebuilding St. Louis Rams in the preseason closer for both squads.
Baltimore aced its primary dress rehearsal for the upcoming campaign with last week's 48-17 blitzing of the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, with the normally run-oriented Ravens unleashing a furious and prolific aerial assault on their overmatched opponent.
Quarterback Joe Flacco attempted 36 passes before calling it a night midway through the third quarter, connecting on 27 of them for 266 yards and a pair of touchdowns with one interception. Preferred target Torrey Smith was on the receiving end for eight of those completions, with the second-year speedster amassing 103 yards altogether.
The onslaught continued after Flacco left, with young backup Tyrod Taylor throwing for 103 yards and two more scores on 7-of-9 passing and Curtis Painter hitting rookie receiver Tommy Streeter for a 33-yard touchdown in the final minute.
The three Baltimore signal-callers combined for 433 net passing yards and 37 completions.
Indications are that Flacco will be sitting this contest out to protect against injury, as will just about all of the Ravens' starters. Baltimore opens its regular-season schedule with a Monday night matchup against fellow AFC North member Cincinnati on Sept. 10.
New kicker Justin Tucker will be handling his duties against the Rams, however, after the undrafted rookie beat out veteran Billy Cundiff in one of the Ravens' most notable camp competitions. Cundiff was released by the club on Sunday and signed with Washington two days later.
The Rams may take a slightly different approach to their finale after their regulars didn't fare well in Saturday's tilt at Dallas. The Cowboys jumped out to a 20-6 halftime lead in that meeting before holding on for a 20-19 victory.
St. Louis had problems on both sides of the ball in the loss, with quarterback Sam Bradford making good on just 6-of-17 attempts for 64 yards and the defense permitting 342 total yards -- including 281 through the air -- in the first half.
One bright spot for the Rams was rookie running back Daryl Richardson, a seventh-round draft choice who rushed for a game-high 51 yards on 10 carries.
While Bradford may get in some work on Thursday to sharpen up for St. Louis' Week 1 game at Detroit, candidates to be inactive include right guard Harvey Dahl (illness) and defensive linemen Darell Scott (knee) and Eugene Sims (ankle).
The Rams also made a headline-grabbing move during the week, trading former No. 2 overall pick Jason Smith to the New York Jets on Monday for Wayne Hunter in a swap of disappointing offensive tackles. Smith had lost a battle with free-agent pickup Barry Richardson to earn a starting nod at right tackle.
St. Louis will have an opportunity to avenge a 37-7 shellacking by the Ravens at the Edward Jones Dome during Week 3 of last year's regular season, a game in which Torrey Smith piled up 152 receiving yards and hauled in three Flacco touchdown passes. Baltimore amassed a franchise-record 553 total yards that afternoon.
The Rams have prevailed in each of the two previous preseason clashes between the teams, posting a 27-21 home win in 2010 and a 24-10 decision in Baltimore in 2008.
08/29 08:42:29 ET