On the day the idle Orioles were ruminating about the previous night’s dugout dust-up between struggling first baseman Chris Davis and manager Brandon Hyde, the Ravens trounced the Jacksonville Jaguars in their preseason opener and reminded us there are happier days ahead.

Not that one glorified scrimmage in early August is going to infect Baltimore with a case of Super Bowl fever. But first impressions matter, and what we all saw Thursday night was a watchable team with a chance to be even more entertaining this year.


This certainly is not the first time the Ravens have come to the rescue at a time when Baltimore sports fans are in need of an emotional pick-me-up. It used to be an annual rite of summer.

When the Orioles were awful from 1998 to 2011, this was the point in almost every season when the focus shifted to M&T Bank Stadium and — in most cases — the likelihood that the Ravens would end up in the thick of the playoff chase.

Now, with the Orioles back in rebuilding mode, the first full season of the Lamar Jackson era is generating a sense of anticipation not evident at this time last year and the team’s strong debut against the Jaguars only added to that excitement.

Even with the real playbook in the deep freeze and Jackson apparently under orders to remain upright for the duration of the first quarter, he looked sharp and posted a 138.2 quarterback rating.

It would have been fun to watch him tuck the football a few times and flash the speed and elusiveness that made him one of the most talked-about players in the NFL during the second half of last season. But it’ll be a real — and unwelcome — surprise to see him spend too much time during the preseason taking hard contact.

He means too much to the franchise to put himself at risk in meaningless games, and he can better use those reps to sharpen his throwing mechanics and get more familiar with a new group of receivers.

Fans had to like what they saw of rookie wideout Miles Boykin, the third-round draft pick out of Notre Dame who got off to a slow start Thursday night but had four receptions and a terrific touchdown catch that was negated by a penalty.

Fourth-round pick Justice Hill also made quite an impression. The fastest running back at this year’s NFL scouting combine flashed his speed (4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash) on a couple of runs, led all Ravens backs with 33 yards and caught two passes.

Of course, there’s going to be concern going forward about how well the Ravens compensate for several key losses on defense. Top linebackers Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Za’Darius Smith left via free agency, while safety Eric Weddle was released and signed with the Los Angeles Rams.

If that calls into question their ability to pressure the quarterback, the largely second-string defense came out quick and aggressive and knocked around Jaguars starter Gardner Minshew II.

Though it’s impossible to draw any firm conclusions from a game that did not feature many of the Jaguars’ front-line players, there was a lot to like about the Ravens’ overall performance. Coach John Harbaugh certainly seemed happy about it afterward.

It gets progressively more real over the next two preseason games, with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in town Thursday for the Ravens’ other August home game.

Meanwhile, the Orioles will be traveling to New York to play four games against the Yankees, who have hit a major-league record 52 home runs against them in 15 meetings this season.

It’s no wonder that local fans are ready for some football.

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