After reviewing the tape from Friday's game against Detroit, the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line made many improvements. The Ravens appear to have also found a backup RB for Ray Rice.
OL much improved: Maybe it was because Matt Birk was back starting at center, but the communication along the offensive line looked solid. There weren't any noticeable breakdowns among the starters, which was an issue last week against Atlanta. Michael Oher continues to impress at LT, and not enough can be said about how comfortable Kelechi Osemele looks as a starting RT.
Allen's missed block: Backup RB Anthony Allen's first snap summed up his preseason. It was third-and-1 on Baltimore's third drive, and Allen came in with a pass block assignment. With Lions S John Wendling coming around the edge, Allen bent his body too soon in an attempt to cut block him. Wendling avoided the block and sacked Flacco. Although Allen did have a catch for 12 yards, he dropped another pass and had minus-2 yards on one carry.
Gotta catch it, LaQuan: Second-year WR LaQuan Williams looked like he was going to get off to a hot start after catching his first two passes for 22 yards, one of which was a tough grab on the sideline. After two passes thrown his way fell incomplete, Williams had a chance to get to the Detroit 1-yard line on second-and-long. At first glance it looked like good coverage from Wendling. On second look, it was a catch Williams needs to make. The ball went straight through his hands and bounced off his facemask for an incompletion.
Kruger covers: OLB Paul Kruger showed he's learning the strongside position well on Friday with a near interception in the first quarter. On the play during Detroit's second possession, Kruger jammed Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew at the line. Pettigrew fought off the jam but didn't get any separation as he broke his route to the sideline. Stafford, trusting his arm strength and seeing nothing open, fired a laser Pettigrew's way. Kruger was prepared and displayed solid technique when he jumped the route. The only thing he didn't do was haul in the interception.
Not a bad play call: Fans like to blame the play-caller when something goes wrong. This wasn't the case on a halfback toss to Bernard Pierce late in the first quarter. Pierce took a sweep right and was stopped for a 14-yard loss. But the play broke down at two spots. First, WR Jacoby Jones got sidestepped by LB Justin Durant without making contact. Second, FB Vonta Leach got beat around the edge by CB Chris Houston. Houston made contact first, with Durant helping to finish the play off. If both blocks are made, Pierce had enough room to run for a first down. Fortunately for Baltimore, Houston grabbed Pierce's facemask, which gave the Ravens an automatic first down.
Speaking of Pierce: Pierce's stat sheet showed four carries for one yard. But he lost 14 on the aforementioned halfback toss. On his other three carries, Pierce showed he's a downhill runner that's hard to bring down on first contact. On a reception that was called back due to an illegal formation penalty, Pierce brushed off a tackler and fell forward after two Lions' defenders tried to bring him down. Baltimore has a lot to be happy about with the way Pierce looked Friday.
Back shoulder fade: CB Jimmy Smith had no problem staying with Calvin Johnson on his 18-yard touchdown. The problem was Smith played Johnson's hands, not the ball. In slowing the play on replay, you can see when Johnson identifies the ball in the air and where Smith's eyes are throughout the play. Smith stays with Johnson but never recognizes where the ball is. Johnson's able to jump up and get it with Smith failing to see the ball until it was too late. This is a technique issue the second-year corner will have to continue to work on.
Follow Ravens reporter Jason Butt on Twitter: @CBSSportsNFLBAL and @JasonButtCBS.