With less than a week until the Ravens face the Bears in the 2018 Hall of Fame Game, here is a breakdown of the most important players to keep an eye on for Baltimore.
The most obvious name to look for is rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson dazzled the nation at Louisville with his incredible athletic ability. All eyes will be on him to see if he can translate his success to the NFL, which was a polarizing topic surrounding Jackson entering the draft, with many experts questioning his accuracy throwing the football. Joe Flacco is firmly at the helm of the quarterback position right now, but the preseason will be a good indicator of just how pro-ready Jackson is at this stage.
It’s unclear if Jackson or Robert Griffin III will start this Thursday, but both should see plenty of playing time against Chicago. Eyes everywhere will be glued to Jackson when the former Heisman-winning quarterback takes his first snaps against an opposing NFL defense. The Jackson versus Flacco debate will either begin to slowly wither or explode after this game.
The fourth-year wideout and former first-round pick will have to shine during the preseason to have a chance at making the final 53-man roster. With a complete overhaul of the wide receiver room this offseason, Perriman suddenly finds himself on the outside looking in as the 2018 season looms. The Ravens usually only keep five to six receivers on the roster, and with Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead and Chris Moore being locks to make the team, this leaves Perriman to battle Tim White, Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott for the final few spots. Perriman will have to showcase reliable hands above anything else if he wants to stay in Baltimore.
With White currently leading the returner competition, and the Ravens most likely looking to keep at least one of their rookie receivers on the roster, Perriman will have an uphill battle to prove he belongs on the team. Baltimore hates to give up on first-round picks, but Perriman’s leash is growing ever shorter as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.
Orlando Brown Jr.
Orlando Brown “Zeus” Jr., third-round pick and son of former Raven Orlando Brown, is another player to watch closely against the Bears. Brown was drafted to play right tackle for Baltimore, but if he shows he is not quite ready for the pro level, then recently re-signed James Hurst will likely take over the position. Hurst has an infamously bad reputation for his play at tackle for the Ravens, so Brown stepping up and winning the job would be the optimal outcome for Baltimore’s offensive line.
Brown’s college tape at Oklahoma showed a dominant mammoth of a tackle, but his historically bad combine performance brought his lack of athleticism to the forefront as a major concern. Brown will have to display solid footwork and technique, while using his size to his advantage against opposing edge rushers to prove that he is capable of playing as an NFL caliber right tackle.
WR/KR Tim White, WR/KR Janarion Grant, QB Robert Griffin III, DE Zach Sieler, ILB Kenny Young, S DeShon Elliot, WR Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley.