After playing a quarter in their preseason opener against the Eagles and just over a full half Friday against the Chiefs, the majority of the Ravens' starters will see even more playing time Thursday in Baltimore's third preseason game.
The third game of the preseason is considered the biggest tune-up for the regular season. As such, head coach John Harbaugh will give his starters increased reps before resting them in the final preseason contest, next week against the Falcons.
"Our plan will be to play them into the third quarter - maybe the whole third quarter," Harbaugh said yesterday.
As was the case in the Ravens' previous two preseason games, there is a group of veteran players who won't stay in as long as the rest of the starters. You're probably familiar with that group by now.
"You will see certain guys that won't go that long, as usual," Harbaugh said. "Ray (Lewis) is not going to go that long. Ed (Reed) is not going to go that long - (Terrell) Suggs, Haloti (Ngata) and those guys. But, there are other guys that really need the work, so we will be pushing them into the second half."
The Ravens transitioned from a training camp schedule to more of a regular season schedule this week, holding shorter practices, cutting out night meetings and actually prepping for their upcoming opponent.
All of that was done to try and get the players, especially the young ones, into a game mode before the most vital of the four preseason contests.
"This is the biggest dress rehearsal for a real game," linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "It's been a game schedule; (Tuesday was) pretty much a Friday for us. We watched more film for them than we did the other games. The first preseason game, you barely watch any film on your opponent. Second, you watch a little bit. This game, we actually broke down some plays and watched them on film and gameplanned them a little bit. But, this is definitely the biggest dress rehearsal as far as preseason game."
Speaking of Johnson, the veteran linebacker says he plans on playing Thursday, despite missing a couple days of practice this week due to a back injury.
"I feel good," Johnson said. "I really want to play in this game, and I didn't want to come out and do something where ... the third preseason game is the biggest thing for the starters, and it being the Redskins, kind of a little rivalry, I really wanted to play in this game."