Ravens training camp will be a week longer this summer. They’ll also be playing five preseason games instead of the usual four.
That’s a result of the NFL announcing Tuesday that the Ravens will be playing the Chicago Bears in the 2018 Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, on Thursday, Aug. 2, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The game will kick off Hall of Fame weekend festivities that will include the “Gold Jacket” dinner on Friday, Aug. 3, and then the enshrinement ceremony Saturday, Aug. 4.
The two teams are natural selections to play in the game with Ray Lewis, who spent his entire 17-year career with the Ravens, and Brian Urlacher, whose 13-year career was spent only with the Bears, both being inducted Aug. 4 with the 2018 Hall of Fame class.
The Ravens have never played in the Hall of Fame Game, while the Bears will be making their fifth appearance after four victories. The game will be on a Thursday night rather than a Sunday for the second consecutive year. In the past, the game would be played the day after the induction ceremony in Canton, but that changed last season with a matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals.
Given that the game will take place a week earlier than when the other 30 teams will open the preseason, the Ravens will also be permitted to start training camp a week earlier than usual. That will give Ravens coach John Harbaugh and his staff an extra week to evaluate young players, but it also will lead to more injury concerns because of the increased summer practice time and an extra preseason game.
Harbaugh doesn’t traditionally play his starters in the first and fourth preseason games anyway, meaning the team’s top players likely won’t be in action in Canton.
In 2016, the Hall of Fame Game, featuring the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers, was canceled shortly before kickoff because of concerns about the field conditions. However, the field was redone as part of a massive renovation project at the Hall of Fame, and last year’s game went off without any problems.
The Ravens and Bears have played just once in the preseason. The Ravens beat Chicago, 19-14, before the start of the 1998 season.
With Lewis’ popularity and long-term impact on the Ravens, a heavy Baltimore contingent is expected in Canton for the Hall of Fame festivities. Tickets to the 2018 Hall of Fame Game and the enshrinement ceremony will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. and will be available at profootballhof.com/tickets.
The rest of the Ravens’ preseason schedule will likely be announced in early April with the regular-season schedule coming out a couple of weeks later.
Hall of Fame Game: Ravens vs. Chicago Bears, Thursday, Aug. 2, 8 p.m.,Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, NFL Network
Enshrinees’ Gold Jacket Dinner: Friday, Aug. 3
Enshrinement Ceremony: Saturday, Aug. 4, 7 p.m., Benson Stadium (Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Brian Urlacher), NFL Network, ESPN
Concert for Legends: Sunday, Aug. 5, 8 p.m., performers TBA
Ticket packages: Got to hofexperiences.com/ or call 844-751-0532. A variety of ticket packages, starting at $287, provide fans with VIP experiences, premium seating and parties with Hall of Famers. Packages range from event-day offerings to four-day experiences that include exclusive extras.