Normally, I don't pay attention to NFL preseason games, but this summer I'm making exceptions. I can think of 10, maybe a dozen, exhibitions I want to witness because ... aw, the heck with it, let's just get to the list:
1. New England at Tampa Bay, Aug. 10
|Randy Moss will be showing off a new uniform Aug. 10. (Getty Images)|
2. Atlanta at N.Y. Jets, Aug. 10
Presumably, Michael Vick's first appearance in uniform -- that is, if he's not sacked by authorities or the NFL first. Sorry, Michael, but Jets' fans won't be on a short leash.
3. Arizona at Oakland, Aug. 11
You don't read much into preseason openers, but you might here. It's Lane Kiffin's debut as an NFL head coach, and the Raiders can't be as dreadful as they were last season, can they? That's why they play the games, people. Now, let's see what Kiffin does to plug leaks in his offensive line. And let's see what he has in QB JaMarcus Russell. And let's see if the offense can find the forward gear and accumulate something more than broken quarterbacks and punts. It's Ken Whisenhunt's debut as a head coach, too, but he has more, much more, to work with than Kiffin. Plus, he's been around the NFL. This isn't just Kiffin's first game as a head coach; it's his first game coaching in the league. Paint it black, baby.
4. Green Bay at Pittsburgh, Aug. 11
Because it's the first time in 16 years someone other than Bill Cowher coaches the Steelers.
5. Philadelphia at Baltimore, Aug. 13
Another preseason opener that could offer clues as to what's ahead. For Philadelphia, there's the Donovan McNabb thing. Every year, there's controversy surrounding the guy, and now people want to know if the Eagles are planning to supplant him with Kevin Kolb. Get serious. Not now, they're not. But they'd sure like to see where they, pardon the expression, stand with their starting quarterback. He's returning from a serious knee injury, and he may or may not play this game. If he does, it won't be for long, but, guaranteed, it's a story. For Baltimore, there's the Willis McGahee impact. I think the guy has a monster year, but others aren't so sure. Let's say he plays two or three series here. It doesn't matter. It's a chance to measure his role and his response to his new teammates -- especially the guys up front.
6. Miami at Kansas City, Aug. 16
Simple: Trent Green. It's the quarterback's first return to Kansas City since his trade to the Dolphins. Granted, it's a meaningless exhibition for most people, but not for Green. He spent six seasons with the Chiefs, and there was a lot of tough talk while he tried to extricate himself to Miami. Mostly, I guess, I'm curious how the fans receive Green. I already know how Green will respond. The guy's a class act. My guess is that Arrowhead's Red Sea remembers and treats him fondly. Green was good for the Chiefs, but the time was right for both sides to let go.