The Baltimore Ravens will in the first pre-season game for both teams, but not every player expected to start Week 1 will be on the field today.
Of course, the biggest loss for the Ravens this offseason was the achilles tendon injury to linebacker Terrell Suggs, who will miss at least a portion of the season. And tight end Dennis Pitta's injured hand certainly got pre-season workouts off on a low note.
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But the Ravens also are taking the safe approach with several players they hope will be key to reaching the Super Bowl, including cornerback Jimmy Smith, center Matt Birk and some of the "senior veterans" as head coach John Harbaugh call them, reports BaltimoreRavens.com.
As is custom for most NFL teams, the assumed starters will see limited action in this first-of-four pre-season games. The Ravens website says most of the starters will not play longer than a quarter, after which both teams will take a long look at their second- and third-string squads.
This interconference matchup may not have the hype of the division showdowns Ravens fans are accustomed to, but it will provide a rare head-to-head glimpse of two teams and two quarterbacks who are often compared in the media.
Since coming into the league in 2008, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has been the barometer of success for Baltimore's Joe Flacco by many in sports media. While they are almost identical in terms of completion percentage, yards and interceptions, Ryan has the edge over Flacco on touchdowns.
Flacco, however, has five postseason victories–something that has eluded Ryan in his three playoff appearances.
Even though they may see as little as one drive, this pre-season matchup could show which quarterback has been doing his homework during the offseason.
The second-string defense for the Ravens could look very familiar to the defense fans could see near the end of the season, considering Suggs's absence and the age of veterans like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. These pre-season games will be a fire drill for a defense that is already shorthanded and could easily see an older star on the sidelines.