OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Three more days until the Ravens put it all on display.
"Aren’t we all excited getting ready for this game? It’s football and thank goodness we’re getting ready to play because it’s been a long, tough, trying offseason," said Ravens Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale. "We’re just ready to play some football and looking forward to it."
Ready and curious about what they’ll see from themselves and their opponent. The Ravens host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday to open the regular season.
"The first game is always interesting," said Ravens Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman. "You just never really know quite what to expect."
They know exactly what to expect from quarterback Lamar Jackson. The reigning NFL MVP is entering his second full season as the starter.
"Really happy with how he’s doing. He’s our leader. He’s definitely got the keys to the car and we like that," said Roman.
The challenge for Jackson, Roman and the offense now is to not rely on past results.
"We’ve got a big body of work under our belt but the challenges are new and fresh. It’s a new beginning," said Roman.
Defensively the Ravens have plenty on their plate this Sunday. Stopping Cleveland’s running back duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt is a must and the Browns boast a pretty good air attack as well.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield enters his third NFL season with receiving weapons like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
"Analytically speaking they’re the best at their positions - the wide receiver positions - and both Chubb and Hunt are one and two in the National Football League as far as breaking tackles," said Martindale.
That will also be key. The basics. Tackling. With no preseason, Sunday will be the first time both teams tackle, live, when it matters.
"The biggest thing is that you gang tackle," said Martindale. "It’s going to be a big focal point for both sides."
Kickoff between the Ravens and Browns is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.