About 9 hours from now, the Ravens will kick off their first game of the 2010 season.
For some reason, that's hard for me to believe.
Despite spending the last two and a half weeks out in Westminster watching training camp practices, it still feels like summer. Maybe it's the fact that while watching said practices, I've had sweat streaming down my face. That doesn't usually mean football weather.
But tonight's preseason opener against the Panthers means the NFL season is upon us, folks.
As is always the case in the first preseason game, we won't see the Ravens' starters for long. Head coach John Harbaugh has indicated that the first-team offense and defense will play a quarter at most, so we'll likely only get to see most of the stars for two or three series.
While it will be brief, we will get our first peek at the new-look Ravens offense tonight.
Joe Flacco will get his first chance to connect with Anquan Boldin, Donte' Stallworth, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta in game action, and Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain should have extra running room around the line of scrimmage as a result.
The chemistry between Flacco and his new targets has looked tremendous so far in camp, and we'll get to see how they look with another team lining up across from them.
On the flip side, we'll also get to see the Ravens' patchwork secondary, which will likely be without its top four cornerbacks. Domonique Foxworth (out for the year, torn ACL) and Lardarius Webb (still on the Physically Unable to Perform list, torn ACL) will definitely not be out there, while Fabian Washington (recovering from a torn ACL) and Chris Carr (hamstring) will likely get the night off as well.
How will the lower guys on the depth chart respond? We'll find out.
The defense will get the individual introductions tonight, so if you're heading to M&T Bank Stadium for the game, you'll get to see some dancing.
I'll be back in a bit with some younger guys that you should keep an eye on tonight, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.