Posted by Andy Benoit
The most intriguing storyline in tonight’s ESPN preseason special between the Ravens and Panthers is the debut of Jimmy Clausen. The second-round rookie from Notre Dame has been splitting second team reps with Hunter Cantwell. Clausen has shown marked improvement over the past two weeks and seems to be finding a comfort zone in a Carolina offense that he was already somewhat familiar with.
Onlookers have praised Clausen’s mobility and athleticism. But such praise is sadly shortsighted. Clausen wasn’t drafted to be a scrambling quarterback. At this point, it’d be a better sign for him to take three sacks in the pocket than pick up three first downs with his feet. Because if Clausen is taking sacks in the pocket, at least he’s showing a willingness to hang in there and stare down the gun barrel.
Even though it’s the preseason, the Ravens defense will show Clausen a few things he’s never seen before. The key is not how Clausen performs, but how he responds. Will he stay in the pocket and trust his protection, or will he run and let things break down? Will he continue through his progressions when he’s about to get hit, or will he start peeking at the pass-rush?
Fortunately, the game is on ESPN, which means we’ll have Ron Jaworski to track all this for us. No analyst understands the mechanics of pocket passing better than Jaws. You can bet he will let viewers know where the young passer stands in terms of pocket toughness.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .