Assuming the paint on the field dries correctly, we’ll have football back in our lives on Thursday night.
The annual Pro Football Hall of Fame game between the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens kicks off the 2018 preseason at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch the Bears vs. Ravens live Thursday night on the Yahoo Sports mobile app (IOS and Android).
As usual, ratings for last year’s Hall of Fame game were high, and perhaps even got a bump because the 2016 game was canceled due to unsafe field conditions. Last year’s game had 8.2 million viewers, more than most NBA and MLB playoff games. Since plenty of people will be checking out this extra preseason game, here’s what to watch:
Football is back
Let’s be honest, most people will watch just because we’re starved for football.
The last time we had a meaningful football game to watch (sorry, CFL fans), the Philadelphia Eagles were knocking off the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. By the time the Ravens and Bears kick off in Canton, Ohio, 179 days will have passed. That’s a long offseason.
So it’s OK to watch just because you missed football. We all did.
Our first look at Lamar Jackson in an NFL game
Most starters won’t play at all on Thursday night, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be players worth watching. At the top of the list is Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, was the subject of heated debate before the draft. The Louisville quarterback was the final pick of the first round, when the Ravens traded up to get him. He won’t start Week 1 of the regular season, unless there’s an injury to Joe Flacco, but first-round quarterbacks almost never sit an entire season anymore. If Jackson can prove in the preseason he can make a quick adjustment to the NFL, it will give the Ravens something to think about in the regular season if Flacco struggles at all. Jackson is expected to play some against the Bears on Thursday night.
“I just want to learn as much as I can from [Flacco] because I know one day, I’m gonna bring an MVP — not an MVP …. well, that too, probably — but a Super Bowl back to Baltimore,” Jackson told Yahoo’s Terez Paylor during training camp. “That’s my goal. I said that when I got drafted, and that’s what I mean.”
New Bears coach making his debut, too
Jackson won’t be the only notable rookie making his NFL preseason debut. The Bears’ head coach will be getting his feet wet, too.
Matt Nagy became a hot name late last season for his work as the Kansas City Chiefs‘ offensive coordinator, and the Bears took a chance on Nagy and the creative offensive schemes he brings. While we probably won’t see quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and most of the Bears’ offensive starters, we’ll get a look at Nagy’s offense, though it will be watered down so the Bears don’t show too much before the regular season.
What will happen during the anthem?
By giving life to the story by enacting a new policy, the NFL made sure we’ll spend a third straight season paying attention to who does what during the national anthem. Thanks for that, NFL.
The NFL’s new policy made nobody happy, and now it’s on hold as the NFL and NFLPA discuss the issue further. The Ravens and Bears will give us our first chance to see if any players plan to demonstrate during the anthem to bring attention to social issues and racial injustice.
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