For the Ray Lewises, Joe Flaccos, Ray Rices, Ed Reeds and Haloti Ngatas, the most important part of the preseason is over.
The next date they have circled is Sept. 10, the Ravens’ Monday night opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The team’s preseason finale, Thursday in St. Louis, is more about the other guys, the players fighting to earn the last spots on the 53-man roster, the ones who aren’t yet assured of being in purple and black when the Bengals come to Baltimore.
And that’s how coach John Harbaugh views the trip to play the Rams.
“That’s our philosophy with those guys in the preseason, has always been to get as many reps as we can out of the game,” Harbaugh told reporters this week. “So we’re going to try to win the game, but we’re going to try to get as many reps as we can for the guys that we’re trying to determine their future.
“These guys work too hard out here to not give them every opportunity out there in a game situation to prove what they can do. This is their dream. There are a lot of guys that have an opportunity right now that are on the bubble to make this team. So we’ve got decisions to make here and for other teams to take a look at. So they’ve earned that, they deserve that and that’s what we’ll do.”
The 5-foot-8 Rainey ranks second on the squad with 10 catches this preseason while adding 46 rushing yards. Brown has been a turnover-forcing and -gobbling machine. Thompson has displayed some speed and skill with four receptions for 71 yards and a couple of nice returns.
Kindle has yet to be the productive member of the defense the Ravens envisioned thanks to injuries stemming from a fall down two flights of stairs before arriving at his first training camp. Harbaugh told reporters Kindle’s spot on the roster is not guaranteed.
“He’s not a lock, but he’s done really well, and this game will be important for him,” Harbaugh said.
Two players who won’t be seen on the field at least until the opener are top tight ends Ed Dickson (shoulder) and Dennis Pitta (broken hand). The two have missed most of camp, but hope to return for the regular season opener.