Are you excited?
What exactly are you excited about? Sure, tonight we see the boys in purple take the field for a new season but it’s still the pre-season. You know, that time before the season where the starters don’t play and the points don’t matter. The most important part about all of these “games” is to avoid serious injury and to prepare for when the real competition starts.
But the preseason isn’t a time for logic and cold facts it’s a time for fans to dream and hope so you’ll pardon my attempts to harsh your buzz. Tonight is about looking into the future, and not just for the 2018 season but beyond. I’ll admit there is an energy surrounding this team, something we haven’t felt in a while and I like it. I like it a lot.
So what will you pay attention to this evening? If you aren’t sure I’ll give you a few ideas.
- Lamar Jackson. Lamar Jackson. Lamar Jackson. – He won’t start the game and he won’t start in Week One but every one will have their eyes focused on him when he walks on the field tonight. Reports out of camp have him still adjusting to the pro game which is typical for most rookies. But honestly practice narratives aren’t thrilling. Fans want to see what he can against another team and if he scrambles for a fifty yard gain or tosses a touchdown or two he’ll have fan base hypnotized. If he struggles, he’s just a first-year player and there’s always next time. See how that works out?
- Robert Griffin III. – The former Subway pitchman has a lot in common with LJ. Both are former Heisman winners and First-Round Draft picks. Both have similar playing styles and can use their legs as well their arm to potentially scare defenses. Griffin won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 but his career since then has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency. He spent all of last season as a free agent. So tonight will be an important night for Griffin as he hopes to force the Ravens to keep three Quarterbacks for only the third time in John Harbaugh’s tenure. He has a unique opportunity to stay in Baltimore beyond this year if he can prove he can still play and perhaps mentor the dynamic Jackson.
- Ravens Draft Classes of 2015-2016 – One reason why the Ravens have missed the playoffs four of the last five seasons is because highly drafted players haven’t produced. Will Breshad Perriman make the team in what is now a crowded wide receiver competition? The former first-rounder could be in major trouble. Maxx Williams has been so bad that the team spent two picks at Tight End in the first three rounds of this year’s draft to get some production at the position. On the defensive side Kamalei Correa and Bronson Kafusi have done little the past two seasons. Both need to have their names called this pre-season to earn a roster slot. Kenneth Dixon could provide depth to running back but he’s still hurt and won’t get a shot to show the team what they’ve been missing tonight. While pre-season games don’t matter to fans for some players it means their careers.
- Undrafted Players – For the last fourteen years the Ravens have always had at least one undrafted free agent make the roster. Can that streak continue? Tim White and Janarion Grant will battle over who returns kicks for the team. Kenny Young and Myles Humphrey are names to watch at Inside Linebacker. And with Dixon out look for Mark Thompson and De’Lance Turner to get opportunities to run the football. I think several could end up making the final cut when all is decided.
- Shiny New Receivers – Baltimore took time, effort, and money to reshape and restock this corps. While Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown may be watching from the sidelines there’s hopefully plenty to see from Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley this evening. Perhaps an opportunities for both huge rookie Tight Ends in Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews to shine would be intriguing as well.