4 pivotal matchups to watch during Commanders joint practices with Ravens

Things will be physical between the Commanders and Ravens in Baltimore.
Emmanuel Forbes
Emmanuel Forbes / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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Commanders QB Sam Howell vs. Ravens defense

The Washington Commanders' second-year quarterback got the start against the Cleveland Browns and was solid in his first playing time of the preseason. Sam Howell did not receive much help from his offensive line but showed off his mobility to extend outside the pocket and make plays on the move.

The young signal caller will likely need to rely heavily on his running ability this upcoming season as Washington looks to have assembled a painfully mediocre protection unit with its current collection upfront. Although there is time for them to improve once further chemistry develops.

Despite constant duress, Howell finished 9-for-12 passing for 77 yards and one touchdown in just three drives with the first-team offense. He showed great poise under pressure and made some impressive throws before giving way to journeyman Jacoby Brissett.

Howell and the Commanders' offense will face an even bigger challenge this week against a loaded Baltimore Ravens defense led by All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith.

Baltimore's defensive unit was again one of the league's best in 2022, allowing just 18.5 points per game and forcing 25 turnovers. Both were top-ten marks in the NFL last season.

With high-end talent across all three levels of their defense, the Ravens should provide a particularly stiff test for Howell and the rest of the Commanders' new-look offense. It'll be interesting to see how Eric Bieniemy's unit fares.

If Howell can again look confident and comfortable throughout joint practices - as well as under the lights on Monday Night Football against Baltimore's dynamic defensive group - the former fifth-round selection can almost certainly cement his status as QB1 for Washington going forward.