When the Ravens take on the Bengals this weekend, linebacker C.J. Mosley will become the team's first rookie defender to start a season opener since perennial Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata in 2006.
The distinction immediately puts Mosley in elite company. As he prepares for his debut, key veterans have offered him some simple advice.
"Strap your helmet up," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Let's go."
"Just play ball," fellow inside linebacker Daryl Smith added. "He's still a rookie, so there will be some rookie things, but at the end of the day he'll do what he's been doing and he'll be fine."
Mosley, the No. 17 overall pick, came to Baltimore with sky-high expectations. He's the team's highest draft pick in eight years, and he's playing the same position as the iconic Ray Lewis.
The Alabama product hasn't been intimidated by the stage up to this point, as he quickly won a starting job during training camp. Mosley was one of the team's top defenders in the preseason, as he led the Ravens with 12 total tackles and also had an interception and one pass defensed.
"I'm really just ready to get to the game," Mosley said. "We've been practicing and preparing all this time and it's been going well getting ready for the Bengals. It's time to get on the field and show it."
Suggs and Smith both had plenty of playing experience during their rookie seasons. Suggs set a Ravens rookie record with 12 sacks and Smith started 13 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The biggest difference that they pointed to with the regular season is the speed of the game, which ramps up to a new level even compared to preseason.
"The one thing I told him is that the speed will definitely pick up," Smith said. "But just do what you're able to do and he will be fine."
Mosley will also get an immediate taste of life in the AFC North, which is known for a physical brand of football.
"This is a division game," Suggs said. "In my opinion, we have the toughest division in football because all four teams only play this physical style of play that we do."
Players and coaches have all expressed confidence in the rookie linebacker since the time he arrived in Baltimore, and that attitude is unwavering heading into Week 1.
"C.J. is ready," Suggs said. "He got a good dose of it from our own offense during training camp, but I think he's ready to go. He can feel it just from the guys around him. I tell him to strap it up and be ready to go.
"Hydrate: It's going to be hot on Sunday."