Is it just me or did this football season sneak up on us? Maybe it was the labor dispute. Maybe it was from my self-imposed exile from football after losing to the Steelers last January. Maybe it was because I've been too busy hammering the Orioles for being the worst team in the American League.
Anyway, tonight is the first preseason game for the Ravens as they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles.
Much has been made of the Ravens offseason and their inability to make any impact signings, especially at the wide-receiver position, after losing Derrick Mason to the Jets and being left with Anquan Boldin and a bunch of rookies or unknowns.
But the crisis at WR will at least give fans something to look out for tonight. The first preseason game usually features 3.5 quarters of second, third and fourth string players eating up minutes. So players like Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, James Hardy and Brandon Jones will get plenty of chances to show the coaching staff -- as well as Ozzie Newsome -- that the Ravens needs at WR aren't that desperate.
It'll also be interesting to see Tyrod Taylor play at QB for much of the game, since Joe Flacco will probably only play in a series or two. Taylor, who like Eagles QB Michael Vick, went to Virginia Tech and is a mirror image of Vick. And with the Ravens having lost last year's back-up, Marc Bulger, to retirement, Taylor will also be able to show the Ravens that they may not need to go out and sign a veteran QB to hold a clipboard all season.
On defense, Sergio Kindle will see his first live action. Kindle was the Ravens first draft pick in 2010, taken in the second round. However, he missed the entire season after falling down two flights of steps just weeks before training camp was to begin and suffering a fractured skull. The Ravens sorely lacked a pass rush in 2010, and if 100%, Kindle could help improve the pass rush and take some pressure of Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs who are routinely double-teamed. Also keep an eye our for DE Paul Kruger, who is probably down to his last chance to make an impact on this team after getting drafted in the second round in 2009 and being left inactive for most of his career.
On the other side of the field, you'll have your first chance to see the Eagles, who were the big movers and shakers this offseason, acquiring the likes of Nnamdi Asomugha and Ronnie Brown. They're the hands on favorite to come out of the NFC, so they should give the Ravens a tough time, even though it's just glorified practice.
So enjoy! At least football is back!