Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium
Canton, Ohio, United States
8 p.m.(east) 7 p.m. (central)
The NFL pre-season football slate gets off to a great start with the Chicago Bears taking on the Baltimore Ravens in the Hall of Fame Game. For two franchises that have struggled the last few seasons, they get a chance to get early preparations and work in before the regular season starts. Both teams are working with new receiving corps, new concepts on offense and new backup quarterbacks who will see all of the playing time.
What to Watch for in the Hall of Fame Game
Three positions to keep an eye on for each team.
The starters are not expected to play, so the focus will be on the backups who are new to their respective teams this year. Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray are the backups for Chicago, and Robert Griffin III and number one draft pick Lamaar Jackson for Baltimore.
For Chicago, Daniel is the clear backup and knows new coach Matt Nagy’s system. Daniel Has been a reliable performer and backup for nearly a decade in New Orleans and Kansas City. He will play the first half and guide the team through the most basic parts of Nagy’s playbook from Kansas City, where Nagy was the offensive coordinator. This will be an exercise in timing and execution for the Bears, who need to see the new playbook work against another team. They will work on some vanilla concepts, which will be expanded upon later.
For Baltimore, RGIII has not played in 2 years and will probably show a bit of rust. He and rookie Jackson are also unfamiliar with coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s system. There will be similar matters of timing and execution just like the Bears. But Baltimore is just trying to get their backups QB’s assimilated, not an entire offense. They will pound the ball on offense with their run game, and try airing it out, to get their new receivers Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown going as well. The second half will be worth watching for Jackson alone, to see his speed in action against NFL competition.
Chicago, like Baltimore has an entirely new crew to catch the ball this year. Some players like new free-agent Allen Robinson and incumbent Kevin White are coming off of injuries. Other free-agents like Taylor Gabriel, and tight end Trey Burton are trying to step into the spotlight. 2nd round pick Anthony Miller is looking for an opportunity to start and become a rare playmaker and future star. They are all just getting their feet wet.
The Ravens completely overhauled their corps of receivers after getting burned by injuries for so many years. Adding veterans like Crabtree, Brown and Snead can only help Joe Flacco with their experience. But a couple rookies like Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott may be the future, and will get a lot of playing time in this game. Rookie tight end and first round pick Hayden Hurst will get his first taste of NFL action from a blocking standpoint. They will be cautious with his play time in this first pre-season game.
For Chicago, they won’t take any chances with their dynamic duo of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. Cohen will get the most time of either of them, because he is in so many play packages. The Bears backups will tote the ball and block most, if not all of the game. Benny Cunningham, former Raven Tiquan Mizzell, and fullbacks Ryan Nall and Michael Burton will get the bulk of the work.
The Ravens have some injury concerns with backup Kenneth Dixon probably not suiting up for the game. Veteran workhorse Javorius Allen will get work and show 4 rookies how its done, as starter Alex Collins will get the night off. 2nd year player Patrick Ricard is a 300 pound fullback I can’t wait to see the Bears backups tackle.
The defenses are both veteran groups that are intact, looking to stay healthy and will barely see any time. The backups will play virtually the whole game and try to flash something meaningful on tape for their resume’s.
The Bears have real battles going on to find a right defensive end opposite Akiem Hicks. They will be looking deep at their 3rd and 4th string middle linebackers for quality depth. They may even slide an outside backer in the middle to check for versatility. The Backup cornerback and safety positions are a question mark. Bears will be looking for answers.
The Ravens defense is a mix of really young and really old. The really old players like OLB Terrell Suggs, S Eric Weddle and CB Jimmy Smith are not going to play. The Ravens will be looking at depth at all levels and a big competition at right defensive end. Veteran Bronson Kaufusi and 2nd year tackle Chris Wormley will be battling rookies Myles Humphrey and Christian LaCouture for starters minutes.
This is a dress rehearsal for both offenses as they get quarterbacks, and receivers situated and comfortable. It will probably be a little sloppy for the Bears as they work on their play calls and timing throughout the game with so many new pieces. The Ravens will have the advantage of having their system in place for years and just getting their quarterbacks comfortable. Lamar Jackson is the big draw, as some people believe he can not only become the backup, but the starter this season.
Both defenses will play well and the outcome will be which 3rd string cornerback does or doesn’t make a play. Enjoy!
Next games: Ravens vs. L.A. Rams August 9th
Bears at Cincinnati Bengals Aug. 9th
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