Joe Flacco will have an abbreviated window to orchestrate the Ravens' offense Thursday night at the Georgia Dome.
That's because coach John Harbaugh has no plans to deviate from his traditional blueprint for the opening preseason game. The starters will only make a brief appearance against the Atlanta Falcons.
"Hopefully, my expectations will be we get the ball, whether it's to open the game or once they turn the ball over on downs or whatever happens and we go down and score a touchdown," Flacco said. "That'll be a good day."
The strategy involves some first-string players operating on a specific snap count, while others will line up for the entire first quarter and some shortly beyond that.
"It will be a standard first preseason game kind of a concept," Harbaugh said. "Not everybody is on exactly the same schedule."
Older players like middle linebacker Ray Lewis, 37, and free safety Ed Reed, 33, are unlikely to see much action -- if they even get into the game.
"Some guys won't play at all," Harbaugh said. "Some of the more senior veteran guys won't play at all by design."
The Ravens are going to be conservative with injured players, meaning that the following players will likely be sidelined: center Matt Birk (back spasms); linebackers Courtney Upshaw (sprained right shoulder), Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) and Darryl Blackstock (groin); cornerback Jimmy Smith (back); running back Bernard Pierce (hamstring); defensive linemen Arthur Jones (strained hip flexor) and Pernell McPhee (knee surgery); and wide receiver Tandon Doss (hamstring).
Projected to start opposite veteran outside linebacker Paul Kruger, Upshaw returned to practice Tuesday after missing a week.
Upshaw took part in full-team drills, hitting rookie wide receiver Tommy Streeter hard when he ventured over the middle.
"From an injury standpoint, not too much has changed," Harbaugh said. "Guys you didn't see out here won't be playing. We'll decide by Thursday, but that would be the thought. They probably need to practice a little bit more. [Upshaw's] been out over a week, so we probably want to get him practice before we play him."