Even though it is only a preseason game, excitement is in the air for the Ravens to take the field in Atlanta Thursday night.

The Ravens have had a challenging training camp; unfortunately the injury bug has bitten some of their star players.  12 players who sat out of practice on Tuesday will not play in the game.

Some of the notable players who will miss the game include cornerback Jimmie Smith, center Matt Birk, rookie running back Bernard Pierce and linebacker Dannell Ellerbee.

Unfortunately fans may have to wait a bit longer to see rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw in action. He missed a week of training camp due to a shoulder injury and head coach Harbaugh will decide on Thursday if he will play in the preseason game.

Veteran players including linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed may not see any playing time; other starters are likely to play the first quarter only.

“We’ll be looking at anywhere from a certain set number of plays to about a quarter, maybe a quarter-plus for some of the starters,” Harbaugh said. “That’s kind of what we’re targeting, but not everybody is on exactly the same schedule.”

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata were at practice all week; both are expected to play. They missed camp last week due to injuries.

McKinnie is likely to see more playing time since he is completing with Michael Oher for the starting left tackle position. Ngata has already solidified his starting roster spot.

The Ravens have some big questions this preseason and hope to find answers during the game:

  • Will a leader emerge in the kicking competition? Veteran kicker Billy Cundiff is in a battle with rookie Justin Tucker.
  • So far there hasn’t been a stand out for backup running back. Anthony Allen, Bernard Pierce, Damien Berry and Bobby Rainey are all competing for this position. All are likely to get carries in Thursday’s game.  If no clear leader emerges, the Ravens may look for a veteran to fill the position.
  • Linebacker Sergio Kindle hasn’t seen any real playing time due to his long recovery after fracturing his skull two years ago. He’s had a good training camp and it will be interesting to see how he fares during the game.

I have a love/hate with preseason games. I love that football is back and seeing the new players in the game. I hate the risk of injury (before the regular season) and that the game doesn’t mean a damn thing except for the guys trying to make the roster.

While I won’t watch the game in its entirety, I will watch some to get my football fix and I will continue to count the days till the season opener on September 10.

By MelissaRubin

Self-proclaimed sports junkie. Lifelong Baltimore sports fan residing in DC. Baltimore Ravens are my favorite team, I'm a die-hard fan and in constant need of a football fix. Baltimore Orioles and Washington Capitals fan too. Follow her on Twitter @egoddess1