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Slow start doomed Ravens defense in preseason opener

The

Ravens

’ secondary struggled in the preseason opener against the

Atlanta Falcons

, allowing quarterback

Matt Ryan

to throw for 155 yards and

Julio Jones

to catch six balls for 109 yards and a touchdown in one quarter. However, defensive coordinator Dean Pees said the defense’s problems against the Falcons were not confined to the secondary.

“I think it’s just the whole defense,” he said. “We need to get off to a fast start. That’s the thing that disappointed us Thursday. We got off to a slow start. We don’t want to let anybody ever drive the ball on us, let alone go down and score on the first possession. … But I wouldn’t say it’s all secondary. We need to put more pressure on the quarterback in those situations. It’s never one thing.”

Cary Williams

was matched up with Jones on most of the wide receiver’s catches against the Falcons, though Pees said that the cornerback was “close” on a couple of the completions and it just came down to Ryan and Jones executing at the highest level.

“When the guy gets it over the opposite shoulder and you are fading away from him, that’s tough, that’s football,” Pees said. “Like I tell these guys, they’re on scholarship, too. They’re allowed to make plays. The biggest thing is you got to forget it and move on.”

Punt coverage breakdown an imperfect storm

It took less than a quarter against the Falcons for the Ravens to give special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg a flashback to last season, when they allowed three total return touchdowns.

Atlanta cornerback

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Dominique Franks
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caught a punt at his own 40-yard line, ran through

Albert McClellan

's attempted arm tackle then cut inside of a diving

Emanuel Cook

. Franks raced down the right sideline until punter

Sam Koch

knocked him out of bounds at Baltimore’s 15-yard line.

“A bad play turned into a disaster,” Rosburg said, because Koch’s punt was near the middle of the field and didn’t hang up in the air long enough for the gunners to corral Franks, who then found a running lane through the middle of the coverage team and nearly scored a touchdown.

“It’s really a great teaching opportunity. You hate to see those happen. We don’t want them to happen at all. But I’ll tell you this, it got attention in practice,” he said with a sly grin on his face.

End zone

Pees is hopeful that linebacker

Courtney Upshaw

(shoulder) and cornerback

Jimmy Smith

(back) will play Friday night . … Cameron said left tackle

Michael Oher

and right guard

Marshal Yanda

graded out near 100 percent against the Falcons. … Rosburg liked what he saw from rookie running back Bobby Rainey on returns Thursday night.

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