Where: Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium; Canton, OH
When: Thursday, Aug. 2, 7:00 p.m. CT
Line: Baltimore -2.5
Finally, Chicago Bears football is back. Well, kind of.
The Bears will take on the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL Hall of Fame game on Thursday night. It’s fitting that both teams have players being inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday. Brian Urlacher will be going in for the Bears, while Ray Lewis heads into Canton for the Ravens. Both players were two of the greatest middle linebackers of All-Time.
Considering that Thursday’s contest is an extra preseason game for both teams, there may not be many starters that participate. For the Bears, Jordan Howard and Mitch Trubisky will sit this one out, while we can expect the same for Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco.
Despite several starters not being on the field, preseason football is still interesting. Here are some things to keep an eye on.
1st Down: Back Up Running Back Position
Don’t expect to see Tarik Cohen on the field much against the Ravens. We already know Howard will be out, so we can assume Benny Cunningham, Taquan Mizzell, and Ryan Nall will see a high volume of touches. For the most part, we know what Cunningham brings to the table. I’m interested in seeing Mizzell and Nall, especially Mizzell.
This is a revenge game for Mizzell who was released by the Ravens before the start of the regular season. Last year during the preseason he was impressive, with 200 yards of total offense. Mizzell is trying to beat out Cunningham and Nall for the third running back spot. Given his experience, Cunningham is the favorite to land that job, but that could change after a strong preseason by Nall or Mizzell.
Nall will be fun to watch because of his big play ability. Dan DeYoung had a great article on him Tuesday.
— The Loop Sports (@TheLoop_Sports) July 31, 2018
2nd Down: Lamar Jackson/Robert Griffin III
Trubisky is the guy for the Bears at QB, but the Ravens have an interesting situation at the position. They have two players, Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III, battling for the QB2 position. Hell, if Flacco gets off to a rough start one of them could be starting early on in the regular season.
Jackson should be fun to watch considering the success he had in college. He can run and throw, much like a young Griffin III, who will be fun to watch for different reasons. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio could have some fun watching some of his young players battle against two mobile QBs.
3rd Down: Kevin Toliver
Undrafted rookie corner Kevin Toliver made a name for himself early on in training camp. After a battling an injury last week, it appears Toliver will be a full go for the Hall of Fame game. Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara may see a couple series of work if any, so Thursday night will be a big one for Toliver.
Again, Jackson and Griffen III will be good tests for all of the younger players on the Bears’ defense.
At 6’2″ and 205 Ilbs, Toliver has the size to go up against the more prototypical No. 1 wide receivers. His nickname is actually ‘The Flash’ because of his three interceptions in the first two days at camp. ‘The Flash’ has a lot to prove and that starts on Thursday.
4th Down: Final Thoughts/Prediction
This will be rookie head coach Matt Nagy’s first preseason game. It’s uncertain how he will handle it, but we know how Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh will. Over the last the last four years, Harbaugh has gone undefeated in the preseason. Clearly, he cares about the games that don’t matter more than others.
I see this game turning into a showcase for Jackson. Every report says that he has wowed his coaches and teammates since being with the Ravens organization. As for the Bears, I’m not expecting much. There will be a good amount of Chase Daniels for the Bears, which will be much better than watching Mike Glennon.
Ravens 27, Bears 24
Follow Nick on Twitter: @TLS_Petrusevski–Feature Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports