The preseason schedule begins tonight with five games. Fans are just like players, we can’t just come out of a hot summer directly into paying attention to 3 hours of football–that’s how you’ll get a strained Achilles when you get up to fast for the bathroom break. So we work in with a few series of watching the starters, before drifting off once the guys who are getting action because of the shortened offseason take over.
Here’s a few things to watch for tonight:
Seattle at San Diego (8 ET on ESPN): A national audience hungry for football will be treated to Tarvaris Jackson as its initial appetizer. I would expect the Seahawks, with new starters on offense at QB, WR (Sidney Rice) and TE (Zach Miller) and without benefit of a long camp and offseason, to work a few extra series, maybe through the first quarter and even into the second. On the other side, Philip Rivers might complete a pass to get in the book before mugging for the camera. Ryan Mathews came to camp out of shape, and reports have been inconsistent about whether he would play any tonight. If he does, it won’t be much.
Baltimore at Philadelphia (7:30 ET): If you find yourself drifting off because you stayed for the end of the Seahawks/Chargers game, you can switch over to NFL Network at 11 pm to watch the start of this one, as it will be replayed nationally then. All of the Eagles new starters on defense will get a little work. I’m not sure we’ll see much out of the Ravens’ offense, but we can see who comes out to replace the departures of Heap and Mason to run with the first unit for a few plays.
Jacksonville at New England (7:30 ET): I don’t expect much from the starters from the veteran offense (Brady won’t play at all), and I don’t look for Albert Haynesworth to do any planking. I’ll be watching how the rotation order at running back goes, with drafting two rookies behind Green-Ellis and Woodhead. Ryan Mallett will begin the process of showing his arm strength as the drug issues fade, setting in motion events that lead to being traded for draft picks to the Vikings in two years. For Jacksonville, Blaine Gabbert will make the start, and I suspect play a fair amount. Will he take control of the quarterback situation and challenge Garrard to start right away, or is this an opportunity for him to get lots of work before going to the veteran for week 3 of the preseason? This one will be replayed tomorrow at 3 pm on NFL Network if you want to set the DVR and watch the first half.
Denver at Dallas (8:30 ET): The early reports have Tim Tebow struggling, and it looks like Orton will be the starter. If that’s the case, Tebow should actually get a lot of playing time in this one. Tony Romo is coming back from injury, but doesn’t really have anything to prove yet. I don’t expect Rob Ryan to go all out on defense early on, so let’s watch Dallas reserves on defense to see who can bolster a weak secondary in 2010.
Arizona at Oakland (10 ET): Kevin Kolb will play a fair amount tonight as he tries to get experience with the offense. Beanie Wells is nominally the starter at running back, but I’m interested in seeing Ryan Williams and whether he’s going to reverse that in the preseason. Oakland will be moving to life without Asomugha on the outside. I’m also curious to see whether Al Davis looks worse than the Deion Sanders’ hall of fame bust after another offseason of insanity.
[photo via Getty]