I’ve watched a couple of Carolina practices in Spartanburg this week and am going to Baltimore for Thursday night’s Panthers-Ravens nationally-televised preseason game (8 p.m. kickoff). Here are a few things I find interesting on the eve of an exhibition that should be more interesting than usual:
1) Baltimore has 17 former Pro Bowlers on its current roster, which is a pretty staggering number. The Ravens acquired several of them in the offseason, including WR Anquan Boldin, backup QB Marc Bulger and K Shayne Graham. Carolina, by comparison, has a modest six former Pro Bowlers on its current roster. Can you name them all? (Answer is below).
2) John Fox and Baltimore coach John Harbaugh once coached on the same staff as Panthers – the 1987 Pittsburgh Panthers, to be exact. Fox was defensive coordinator; Harbaugh coached tight ends. “I know his whole family really well,” Fox said of Harbaugh.
3) Expect a lot of pounding of the ball Thursday night. Carolina was third in the NFL in rushing last season; Baltimore has Ray Rice, who had 1,339 rushing yards last season and made the Pro Bowl. Fox said the Panthers hope to play all four of their quarterbacks. The Panther starters will play in the first quarter but not much beyond, if any.
4) The Ravens have beaten every team in the NFL except Carolina and New England when it counts – the Panthers are 3-0 against Baltimore in the regular season. The two teams play again Nov. 21st in Charlotte. Baltimore is 3-1 against Carolina in preseason play, however.
5) Panther WR Armanti Edwards and Baltimore starting QB Joe Flacco will be on opposite sidelines Thursday night and were once before in 2007. In that one, Edwards quarterbacked Appalachian State to a 49-21 win over Flacco’s Fighting Blue Hens in the Division I-AA championship.
6) Answer to the Pro Bowl question: the six Pro Bowlers on Carolina’s current roster are Jordan Gross, John Kasay, Steve Smith, Ryan Kalil, Jon Beason and DeAngelo Williams.