The Ravens kick off their 20th season Thursday night when they open the exhibition season with a home game against the New Orleans Saints. The exhibition season offers little to the fans but delivers full ticket prices and TV opportunity to the owners and networks who prefer we call it the preseason.

The preseason is about protecting front-line players from injury with limited exposure while evaluating rookies and borderline roster candidates against like caliber competition. I’m not sure what it means when the 8th receiver on your teams depth chart beats the 9th cornerback on theirs.

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The Ravens look like one of the top teams in the AFC and are picked by many as the favorites to win the AFC North in 2015. If you’re team wears Purple and Black or any other color the most important preseason consideration is health.

Injuries are as much a part of the NFL as penalty flags and fair catches. They happen to every team just about every game, but you hope they don’t take down 2 or 3 of your core players in games that don’t count. If you go into week 1 of the regular season healthy you’ve had a great pre-season, end of story.

Here are 3 things to watch during the Ravens exhibition season.

Kick Return Competition

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Will Jacoby Jones replacement please stand up. Jones was a home run hitter the past 3 years in this department. He earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors with 4 KOR touchdowns (2 went 108 yards) and another score on a punt return. And then there was that kickoff return TD in the Ravens 34-31 Super Bowl over the 49ers. Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg will keep a close eye on Asa Jackson, Michael Campanero and DeAndre Carter as they audition for the Jacoby position.

Perriman and Williams

How quick the Ravens top two picks develop may determine how good the offense is. Breshad Perriman has missed valuable practice time with a knee injury and will need preseason snaps to get ready for his rookie season. The Ravens hope Perriman can help off-set the loss of Torrey Smith who averaged about 900 yards in his 4 years in Baltimore. Smith’s 11 TD’s last season ranked second among AFC wide receivers, only the Steelers Antonio Brown had more.

Maxx Williams was considered the top tight end in the 2015 draft, can the 2nd round pick hit the ground running and become the third down safety net and red zone target for Flacco like Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels have been in the recent past?

Trestman Factor

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New offensive coordinator Marc Trestman won’t give us a complete look at his offense in the preseason but we should get a peek at how he plans to tweak things. I’d expect the running backs to get more involved in the passing game, Matt Forte had over a 100 catches for the Bears last year. Trestman has a good reputation and we can expect some changes but I suspect he’s smart enough to understand it’s Joe Flacco’s offense that he’s in charge of.