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Although unbeaten, Ravens remain far from perfect

August 28, 2010

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Baltimore Ravens enter their third preseason game looking to hold onto the football, establish an offensive flow and fortify their defense.

Though unbeaten, the Ravens gave up 401 yards passing in a 23-3 victory over Washington last week. Baltimore has fumbled eight times in two exhibition games. The team's leading rusher is Haruki Nakamura, who ran 51 yards on a fake punt.

Most alarming is a unit that was repeatedly burned by the Redskins.

"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."

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Eli Manning will start at quarterback for the Giants, his first game action since receiving stitches following a hard hit to the face on Aug. 16 against the New York Jets. He will be going up a defense that last week celebrated the return of cornerback Fabian Washington and is being cautious with Lardarius Webb, both of whom are coming off knee operations.

Baltimore is also without injured free safety Ed Reed, and will operate this season without cornerback Domonique Foxworth (knee).

But the Ravens still have middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who chose to ignore the gaudy statistics the Redskins put up last week and focus on a six-game preseason winning streak that includes a 17-12 win over Carolina on Aug. 12.

"I think we're right where we need to be," Lewis said. "When you turn on our defensive film, one thing that you do like is (that) we haven't given up a touchdown all preseason. That's a bottom-line fact, no matter what big plays or what happened. A few mistakes here and there, correct them and then just get ready."

Baltimore's offense was supposed to be enhanced by the addition of wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth, but the first-team unit remains a work in progress. Then again, the top three rushers from last year -- Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain -- have a combined 12 carries.

"I've taken my reps in practice. I've gotten tackled by our defense," Rice said. "Obviously, you want to play in the games. But 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 should see more action against the Giants, simply because coach John Harbaugh plans to use his starters for at least the first half. That might also mean more action for Boldin, who thus far has only two catches for 33 yards.

"I think we had a pretty good week of practice and preparation," Boldin said. "We didn't scheme or game plan for New York. We're really focused on what we're doing -- our assignments and techniques."

And keeping a tight grasp on the football. Baltimore's eight fumbles include one by Rice, one by starting quarterback Joe Flacco, two by backup quarterback Marc Bulger and one by Stallworth.

"First thing we need to work on Saturday night is ball security," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "We had five fumbles last week, and the previous week wasn't one of our better efforts either. We think we emphasize it enough, but obviously we haven't. We're going to try to get that corrected. That would be our No. 1 goal coming out of the game."

This is essentially the last chance for the Ravens to get it right in game conditions before the regular season opener on Sept. 13 against the Jets.

"Everybody knows we don't play too much in the fourth preseason game (against St. Louis on Sept. 2)," Boldin said. "This preseason game here really shows where we are."

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