What to watch: Ravens vs. Redskins

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Coming off an appearance in the AFC Championship Game, the Baltimore Ravens will make their 2009 preseason debut Thursday night hosting the Washington Redskins.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Thursday will be the debut of Baltimore's defense under the leadership of new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Former coordinator Rex Ryan is now the head coach of the New York Jets, leaving many to wonder how similar or different Mattison's scheme will be in terms of schematics and aggressiveness.

  • With starting receivers Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton both out, it will be difficult to get a true gage on quarterback Joe Flacco entering his second season. But it will be interesting to see Flacco on the field again for the first time this year and where he's progressed.

  • How will tailback Ray Rice look in his second season? A possible starter, Rice needs to have a good preseason to solidify his position as the lead threat in Baltimore's three-headed monster. Rice packed on some muscle and worked with the first team most of this offseason.

  • Linebacker Tavares Gooden will start his first game in place of the departed Bart Scott. Gooden has been getting good reviews in summer and spring workouts and is expected to play a major role in the defense next to Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis.

  • With Mason and Clayton out, this is a golden opportunity for young receivers such as Demetrius Williams, Justin Harper and Marcus Smith to step forward. A receiver or two from this bunch is expected to provide depth in a reserve role this season. It's no better time than the present for one of these young receivers to start making plays in a game situation.