Friday Blitz: Ravens, Bears open NFL preseason, Hall of Fame weekend; Bills to host final 2018 Protection Tour stop

By Brent Glasgow | Posted 8/3/2018

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson looks downfield as Chicago Bears linebacker Andrew Trumbetti closes in during Thursday's NFL preseason opener at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. (Photo via Sporting News)

NFL season officially arrived Thursday night, as the Baltimore Ravens topped the Chicago Bears 17-16 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, to kick off this weekend's induction festivities.

Much of the anticipation surrounded the debut of 2016 Heisman Trophy winner and Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who finished 4-of-10 for 33 yards, along with eight carries for 25 yards. Jackson's first pro touchdown went to fellow rookie and tight end Hayden Hurst on an 8-yard pass in the third quarter.

Saturday, the Hall of Fame will induct its 2018 class, which includes linebackers Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Robert Brazile; wide receivers Randy Moss and Terrell Owens; safety Brian Dawkins; guard Jerry Kramer; and general manager Bobby Beathard.

Buffalo Bills welcome Protection Tour 

Bills New Era Field

Photo via WSTM

The last of six 2018 USA Football Protection Tour stops comes to New Era Field today in Buffalo. Presented by Riddell and AIG, the Protection Tour creates the ultimate on-field experience for boys and girls who either play football, have an interest in doing so or just enjoy the game. This year's Tour also included events in Chicago, Tampa, Florida; Seattle, Denver and Los Angeles.

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The free three-hour event on a real NFL field for kids ages 5 to 14 exposes them to football fundamentals, provides a helmet fitting by a Riddell expert and includes NFL players, mascots, cheerleaders and more.

Alabama high school football program invests in Riddell InSite 

Riddell InSite Gulf Shores high school football

Gulf Shores High School football coach Matt Blake. Photo via WPMI.

Cory Pippin of says the Gulf Shores High School football program bought 44 Riddell football helmets with its InSite technology, which monitors on-field contact and alerts the sideline with actionable information from single and multiple impacts.

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"We get to use the lessons learned in football to prepare them for the rest of their life. This is just another life lesson that safety always comes first," Gulf Shores coach Matt Blake said.

Team parent John Knight's son Jacob plays wide receiver for the Dolphins, and was one of numerous donors who helped Blake raise the $17,000.

"A lot of the kids are competitors. They don't really want to come out of the game. Now, the coaches and trainers have a way to check them out and make sure they're OK. It's a game-changer, really," Knight said.

Blake said he'll buy more InSite helmets as funds become available.

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U.S. National Team alum, Colts lineman Jack Mewhort retires from football

Jack Mewhort USA Football U.S. National Team

Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman and 2009 U.S. National Team member Jack Mewhort (pictured during his National Team days) announced his retirement this week. The 26-year-old Toledo, Ohio, native and Ohio State product battled knee injuries the past two seasons.

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Mewhort quickly became a key cog, as he started 14 games his rookie year when the Colts reached the AFC title game, and all 16 contests during his second season. He started 15 total games in 2016-17, and ended each year on injured reserve. 

Former teammate Joe Reitz told The Indianapolis Star, "I played with a lot of tough guys during my time in the NFL, but no one was tougher than Jack Mewhort. He is an absolute warrior who gave it 100 percent every snap, every practice, every game. More importantly, he is an even better person off the field. He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, and I would bet most everyone you talk to would echo the same. He is a true pro, a man’s man, and a great teammate and friend."