In his own words, Patrick Queen has been preparing for this moment his whole life.
He will get his first NFL start not in the preseason, but in the first regular-season game of his NFL career.
The Ravens listed almost all of their rookies at the bottom of their depth chart. Running back J.K. Dobbins is fourth, for example. Not Queen. He's right there listed as the starting middle linebacker.
It's quite as assignment, and one steeped with historical significance. The Ravens have had draft two other inside linebackers in the first round. Both were also immediate starters.
Hall of Famer Ray Lewis and four-time Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley set a high bar for Queen to aspire to, and a promising career begins Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
"He's a first-round draft choice-type linebacker. He's fast, he's smart," Ravens Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said. "Going against our offense every day is not fun. It's not easy, especially if you're a rookie. He's grown the past six weeks and we're excited to see, just like everybody else is, the product that we put on the field Sunday."
Martindale said he's been happy with his unit's communication in training camp. That falls on many players other than Queen, but as the middle linebacker, he certainly has a lot on his shoulders. The LSU rookie was a fast learner who didn't repeat mistakes this summer, and physically he's everything a coach could dream of at linebacker.
The Browns have an explosive offense with one of the best running back tandems in the league in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Baltimore expects Cleveland to run at them early and often Sunday afternoon, and they could come right at the Ravens' first-round rookie to see what he's got.
"I'm sure they will [test him]," Martindale said. "And I think he's going to be up to the challenge."
Greg Roman Will Use Three Running Backs Every Week
How the Ravens will use their four talented running backs has been a major talking point all offseason, or at least since Baltimore drafted Dobbins in the second round.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman shed a little light on that Thursday, saying he will "definitely use three every week and sometimes four."
"Division of labor or how we deploy them, that will change on a week-to-week basis a little bit," Roman said. "Running backs and tight ends are unique in that every one of them is a little bit different, so we'll try to deploy them a little bit differently. But we definitely want to get everybody involved and everybody part of what we're trying to do."
Roman reiterated that Ingram is the team's starter, but Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill will all see action over the course of the season – just not necessarily all in the same game.
The Ravens ran the ball more than any team in the NFL last year, and Ingram had a team-high 202 attempts. Lamar Jackson followed with 176, Edwards had 133 and Hill had 58. It remains to be seen how much Dobbins will get this year and how that will impact everyone else's load, but fans will get their first preview Sunday afternoon.
Tavon Young's First Game in Over a Year
Cornerback Tavon Young has been waiting a long time for Sunday's game, which will be his first since Dec. 30, 2018. Young was forced to sit out the Ravens' 2018 playoff loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Young suffered a neck injury during training camp that sidelined him all last season. He returned to the field and his dominant self in training camp this summer.
"I'm sure there's excitement," Martindale said. "Tavon is a quiet guy by nature. But he's excited and he's ready to go. He has good energy."
Ravens Mum on Who Will Be Their Returner
The first depth chart is out, but that doesn't mean we know who all the starters will be against the Browns, and Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton is keeping it that way.
Horton did not reveal who will be returning kickoffs against the Browns. Hill sits atop the depth chart, but he's dealing with a thigh injury. Chris Moore is second but he has still not practiced because of a broken finger. Rookies Devin Duvernay and James Proche II are next in line on the depth chart, respectively.
Willie Snead IV is listed as the top punt returner, followed by Proche and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown.
"We've waited a long time. I think we can wait three more days to figure out who's going to be out there," Horton said. "Whoever we put out there is going to be the guy for the job.
"Those guys, James and Devin, along with Willie and along with Marquise, those guys have all done a great job this camp catching the football. We've put them through the wringer."