Among the telltale signs that the NFL regular season is near is the annual Hall of Fame Game. The first game of the NFL's preseason, the Hall of Fame Game brings excitement for what's ahead while also paying homage to previous gridiron greats. This year's game will feature the Las Vegas Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars, two teams that will face off during Week 9 of the regular season.
Thursday night's game will be played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, a stone's throw away from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. With the capacity crowd of 23,000, the stadium provides a unique atmosphere that harkens back to a simpler time in professional football. As always, the stadium will be packed Thursday night with football-craved fans whose six-month wait to watch NFL football will finally be rewarded, even if the game does not officially count in the final win-loss tally.
Below is a preview of Thursday night's showdown, along with how to follow the action in real time.
How to watch
This edition of the Hall of Fame Game will feature two teams that have had big offseason changes. The Jaguars, led by first-year coach Doug Pederson, are using the '22 season as the foundation for future glory. Jacksonville is coming off of a dismal season that included the late-season dismissal of former coach Urban Meyer. Jaguars fans are hoping that Pederson can repeat the magic with Trevor Lawrence that he had with Nick Foles during the Eagles' magical Super Bowl run five years ago.
Las Vegas, on the other hand, is hoping that their 2022 season ends with the franchise's first trip to the Super Bowl since 2002. The Raiders' Super Bowl hopes are largely due to last year's success along with a slew of offseason acquisitions that includes All-Pro wideout Davante Adams and pass rusher Chandler Jones. Like the Jaguars, the Raiders have a new head coach in Josh McDaniels, who comes to Las Vegas following a long, successful run as the Patriots' offensive coordinator. Thursday's game will be a homecoming for McDaniels, who played high school football inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Injuries have hurt the Raiders during the early goings of training camp. Those injuries will likely hinder how many players Las Vegas will dress in their first of five preseason games. Thursday night will be an opportunity for Raiders fans to get a look at rookies Dylan Parham, Matthew Butler and Neil Farrell Jr. While none of those players are projected starters, each one is expected to serve as a key contributor to the Raiders offensive and defensive lines.
The Jaguars also have several rookies to keep an eye on, specifically center Luke Fortner and linebackers Devin Lloyd and Travon Walker. While he's not a rookie, the 2022 season is in many ways the first for running back Travis Etienne, a 2021 first-round pick who missed the entire regular season with an injury. Pederson has announced that neither Etienne nor Lawrence will play in the Hall of Fame Game.