Sunday’s Hall of Fame game officially kicked off the start of the 2015 NFL preseason, but Week 1 of exhibition games will start at M&T Bank Stadium when the Baltimore Ravens host the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens bring back a core of players that had a chance to reach last year’s Super Bowl, while the Saints are hoping that a few new additions will help them improve upon what was a disappointing season.
If previous seasons are any indication, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco could play a few series to start the team’s first exhibition game. A year ago, Flacco completed four-of-five passes for 52 yards in a Week 1 preseason win against the Atlanta Falcons. In 2012 and 2013, Flacco attempted 12 and nine passes, respectively, in Baltimore’s first preseason contest.
The Ravens would like to get their first look at their No.1 draft pick in an NFL game on Thursday, but it doesn’t look like that will be the case. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman continues to miss practice with a knee injury, and he probably won’t be ready to suit up against New Orleans.
There are high hopes for Perriman, who was taken No.26 overall and injured his knee on the first day of training camp. Wide out Marlon Brown is set to play in his third season with the Ravens, and while he was back at practice on Tuesday, he could miss Thursday’s game after battling a back and hamstring injury.
Tight end Maxx Williams does appear to be healthy, and he could be featured against the Saints in his NFL debut. Going to Baltimore late in the second round, Williams was the first tight end taken in the 2015 draft.
New Orleans will look different than they did a year ago, as Drew Brees will need to find a new No.1 target. The team traded Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for center Max Unger and a first-round draft pick. Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks will return as the Saints’ top two receivers, but a few new names will get to show what they can do on Thursday.
Veteran Josh Morgan signed with the team in the offseason, and Benjamin Watson will take over as the team’s No.1 tight end.
“Specifically with Josh (Morgan), he’s a veteran player,” New Orleans head coach Sean Payton said at Tuesday’s press conference. “I would say he’s extremely smart. He is physical. He is a guy that can really help both in the running game and the underneath game. He has strong hands in traffic. He has played in this league for a while so he has come in and has done some good things. Can he help in the kicking game? That will be important. I think we have a handful of young guys. It is a position I would say there is a lot of competition at.”
The Saints drafted rookie quarterback Garrett Grayson in the third round, and he could see plenty of snaps on Thursday. Quarterbacks Luke McCown and Ryan Griffin are also on the roster.
New Orleans tackle Terron Armstead will take the field on Thursday after having an impressive start to training camp. The third-year player could be in line for a Pro Bowl season.
The Ravens beat the Saints in both the preseason and regular season last year.
Start Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX-8 (New Orleans) and WBAL (Baltimore)
Betting Odds: New Orleans -3, 37.5