We made it to football season.
The Bears and Ravens play the first NFL game of the new season on Thursday, as the Hall of Fame Game kicks off the preseason. Both teams have interesting storylines heading into this season, but don’t expect to see too much revealed in Canton. With four more preseason games, these teams will be hesitant to reveal any of the scheming they plan to use during the season.
That being said, both teams have things to work out before Week 1. The Bears are in a new offense under first-year head coach Matt Nagy, so everything they do will be studied and scrutinized. They are also developing a young quarterback, and it’s unknown how long Mitchell Trubisky will play.
For the Ravens, it’s about the future at the position. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has already told reporters that some players won’t play at all on Thursday, but it’s unknown if that will include veteran QB Joe Flacco. The Ravens have a special young quarterback waiting in the wings, so this game has potential for excitement where some Hall of Fame Games would fizzle out.
Here’s a look at every quarterback we could see on Thursday:
The future of the Bears franchise makes a rare hometown start on Thursday. Trubisky played his college ball at North Carolina, but is from Mentor, Ohio, just over an hour away from Canton. Trubisky got the keys in Week 5 of last season, and showed good arm strength and mobility in a Bears offense lacking on the outsides. It isn’t confirmed, but Nagy told reporters that Trubisky will “probably not play.”
If Trubisky is wearing sweatpants, the starter for Thursday could be former Missouri product Chase Daniel. Daniel has spent the previous season backing up Drew Brees, but spent three seasons with Nagy in Kansas City. He also spent a season with Doug Pederson in Philadelphia, another former Chiefs offensive coordinator. He’s only appeared in seven games since 2014, but was signed to help Trubisky learn the new offense.
Daniel will get the majority of work, but expect to see Bray in the second half. Bray is another offseason signing that spent last year in the Chiefs system. According to Bears reporter Adam Jahns, Bray is expected to see the majority of work on Thursday.
Standing at 6’6″, Bray went undrafted in 2013 and ended up in Kansas City. He was on the active roster in 2014, but didn’t get another shot with the 53-man squad until 2017. He threw one pass last season, but will see much more work against the Bears.
It’s a big year for Flacco, but it likely won’t be a big night. Flacco isn’t expected to play much if at all in the Ravens’ opener. Baltimore has four quarterbacks on their roseter, and they’ll likely cut that number to three before final roster cuts. That makes these preseason games crucial for shaking out the depth chart. Flacco is healthy entering his 11th NFL season, but has been looking over his shoulder after the Ravens drafted an exciting rookie. If Flacco does play, which he shouldn’t, don’t expect to see him for more than one drive.
This is why I’m watching on Thursday. The Ravens selected Jackson with the final pick of the first round, raising questions about the future of the franchise at the position. While it was debated wheteher Jackson would play quarterback at the highest level, that’s where he’s been practicing so far in training camp. The Ravens have been finding different ways to get him involved in the offense, including a trick play where he throws the ball to Flacco. It’s unknown how much action Jackson will see, but the plan is to split the majority of reps between him and Robert Griffin.
Robert Griffin III
It’s been a bumpy road for RG3, who was unsigned last year after an uneventful 2016 in Cleveland. While out of football, Griffin was considering training for the Tokyo Olympics. The former Redskins quarterback that lit up the NFL in 2012 was training at Disney’s Wide World of Sports with sprinter Justin Gatlin before the Ravens called. Now Griffin is back in the fold, and competing for a backup spot in camp. It’s tough when you have a veteran like Flacco and an exciting rookie like Jackson, but Griffin could prolong his NFL career with strong preseason performances. More than anyone else, Griffin is playing for his career.
The forgotten man in Baltimore. Last summer, Woodrum made headlines only because the team signed him over taking a chance on Colin Kaepernick. The former Liberty QB is expected to see minimal action on Thursday, as the Ravens need to get Jackson and Griffin looks to evaluate their roster. Woodrum spent last season in Baltimore, and already knows the system.