The 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game provides us with the first taste of football since February.
Although the first preseason game won't deliver in terms of quality compared to the regular season, it produces the first glimpse of exciting rookies and how they might gel with veterans.
The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears participate in Thursday's contest in Canton, Ohio, to start a celebration of football's greatest players, including 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher.
Thursday's action will feature most players further down the depth chart, as the Hall of Fame Game serves as a fifth preseason contest for the two franchises.
2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game Info
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBC Sports app or NBCSports.com
Baltimore Backup Quarterbacks Looking To Impress
Since Ravens camp began, most of the talk surrounding the offense involved backup quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III.
With Joe Flacco not expected to play, the contenders for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart should have plenty of time to impress head coach John Harbaugh and his staff.
While Griffin and Jackson are competing for the position beneath Flacco, the older gunslinger of the two had high praise for the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, per Ryan Mink of the team's official website:
The 28-year-old Griffin is fighting for his first regular-season action since Week 17 of the 2016 campaign, when he led the Cleveland Browns against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Realistically, that dream may be far off with Flacco locked into the starting role for now and Jackson taking camp by storm.
Despite the long odds to make an appearance in purple and black after September, Griffin has an opportunity in front of him to showcase his talents to not only the Ravens, but to other teams across the league who might need help at quarterback by the time training camp concludes.
Jackson will have the full attention of the crowd for different reasons, as he's one of the most exciting prospects in the rookie class.
Although it's always hard to pull concrete takeaways from a preseason game on August 2, Jackson can still shine by doing the little things right.
As long as Jackson makes the fundamentals look easy and displays comfort in the Baltimore system, it will be seen as a positive step with plenty of work left to do for the remainder of training camp.
Roquan Smith Holdout Hangs Over Bears
Most of the talk about the Bears at this point in preseason was supposed to focus on the growing relationship between first-year head coach Matt Nagy and second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
While the coach and quarterback have started to develop chemistry on the practice field, they've been overshadowed by the holdout of first-round pick Roquan Smith, a linebacker out of Georgia.
Smith, who is the only unsigned first-round pick, remains away from Chicago's training camp due to language in his contract regarding the new NFL helmet contact rule.
According to David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears conceded in talks with Smith's representatives and won't force the Georgia product to lose guaranteed money if he's suspended under the new rule. The NFL released a fact sheet Wednesday to clarify some questions concerning the new helmet contact procedure.
Smith has the potential to be a key part of the Bears linebacker corps, which includes 10-year veteran Danny Trevathan, who practiced for the first time Monday since suffering a hamstring injury, per Larry Mayer of the team's official website.
With at least two of Chicago's top linebackers not expected to feature Thursday, players such as Kylie Fitts have an opportunity to earn more playing time.
Fitts, who was selected with the 181st overall selection in the 2018 NFL draft, could turn into one of the top finds of the draft, and if he thrives Thursday, he could set himself on the path to join Smith, Trevathan and Sam Acho in the conversation for starters at the position.
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Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.