Sunday night was the first game of the preseason, but Thursday night was the first game for many of the teams in the NFL. While it is only preseason, you can't help but get a little excited. Normally, there are a few changes around the league involving personnel, but this season between veterans finding new homes and some incoming rookies the landscape of the NFL has changed dramatically.
Thursday night was full of action, some exciting, some sloppy, and some historic. The following are the highlights that people will be talking about:
All eyes were on Denver as Peyton Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacksof all time, took the field after missing last season with an injured neck. Could he take a hit? Can he pass? Can he get it down field? Does he still have the magic?
Not much was really answered. Peyton only played for one drive. He looked good throwing the ball although the timing was a little off (or the receiver screwed up) on a couple passes. His 19-yard pass to Eric Decker on 3rd and 17 was vintage Manning. However, he did throw an interception in the red zone (ball thrown behind Brandon Stokley who tipped it) and didn't take any hard hits.
Robert Griffin III looked as good as advertised in his limited action against the Buffalo Bills. His first two drives stalled out (three and out after a Garcon reception was called back and a fumbled hand-off), but on the third he looked like everything the Redskins hoped to get when he led the team on a eight play, 80-yard drive that ended with Pierre Garcon taking a screen pass 20-yards to the end zone.
Michael Vick had said that he was going to try and avoid getting hurt this year; so much for that. Vick injured his thumb when he banged on a helmet early in the game against Pittsburgh. X-rays are negative, but it would be surprising to see Vick play in the Eagles next preseason game August 20 against New England. His counterpart, Ben Roethlisberger, looked good during his one drive in spite of tweaking his ankle recently in practice.
It was not a good night for the stud quarterbacks of the NFL. Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, and Aaron Rodgers all looked pretty bad. None of their stats were impressive, but in the preseason you know they aren't going to play long anyway. All four appeared to struggle at times with bad throws, interceptions, fumbles, and sacks. You know these guys are going to turn it on when it counts, but it sure would have been nice to see them do a few things right.
Julio Jones played so well that his stock should rise considerably in fantasy drafts around the country. The second year player caught six balls from Matt Ryan for 109 yards and a touchdown in limited action. His partner in crime looked pretty good too; Matt Ryan was 9-13 for 155 yards and a TD.
Surprisingly, the commentators on ESPN's broadcast of the Packers/Chargers game talked little about the fact that a woman was working an NFL game for the first time in the history of the league. Then again, perhaps it is not surprising since the league put out a notice to all the teams not to bash the replacement refs. It would not be surprising for the commentators to follow suit.
Incidentally, Shannon Eastin did absolutely fine.