And just like that, the endless offseason ... does.
It is never hard to do the traditional "Preseason Game One" scene-setter post. This year it's even easier than usual.
● It's hard to imagine ever completely losing the childlike expectation and anticipation that comes with the preseason opener. When the Washington Redskins take to the field tomorrow night to meet the Pittsburgh Steelers, it will have been 223 days since we last saw our team storm the field. That moment alone is worth tuning in for. The emerald gridiron, the thunderous crowd, the thudding flash and smoke of fireworks, the leaping, woofing warriors in full battle gear ...
If none of that gets you amped after nearly eight months of enforced abstinence, I daresay your inner child needs a hug.
● The lockout turned what is usually an interminable offseason player acquisition phase into a breathless, whirlwind two-week game of musical chairs. The music hasn't even stopped echoing yet. As as result, a large part of tomorrow night will simply be matching jersey numbers and body types to names we've so far only read about for a few short days.
There is nothing quite like seeing an intriguing new player in burgundy and gold for the first time. It's not unlike a first date--first impressions come 'round but once.
● Oh yeah, we get our actual first look at said new players tomorrow night. This year's preseason opener brings a bonanza like few in recent memory. In no particular order, and not exclusively, we are about to get those all-important first impressions of ...
DE/OLB Ryan Kerrigan - the Redskins top pick in this year's draft. Possibly a legit playmaking bookend for Pro Bowler Brian Orakpo. Please make it so.
WR Leonard Hankerson - if one is to believe the whispers, there are objective observers out there who actually believe the Redskins may have gotten a true steal landing Hank in the third round. Really? The Redskins? A steal in the draft? At receiver? Gulp.
WR Niles Paul - two days ago, Paul was just one of twelve (yes, twelve) draft picks making his Redskins debut tomorrow tonight. Having been singled out by various media types as a camp standout the last couple days, however, we'll now be looking for him with extra interest. Don't know why, but I keep seeing Darrell Green lean down to the NFL Films camera before a game, stick something in his sock and say, "Tootsie Roll--makes you run fast." Run fast, Niles.
DE Jarvis Jenkins - any time a new Redskins lineman starts getting raves for his athleticism, power and potential, you take notice. That in this case said player is also a draft pick? You will probably sit up a little straighter tomorrow night when he gets on the field the first time. I know I will.
And that's just a few of the more discussed rookies. You can bet we'll also be watching for our first glimpses of RB Roy Helu, DB Dejon Gomes, NT Chris Nields ...
Then there are the new veterans.
Carriker, Cofield and Bowen - sounds like a high-powered law firm. You have the floor gentlemen. Feel free to make the new projected starting defensive line's opening argument a strong one.
RB Tim Hightower - the name-recognition is certainly there. The highlight videos certainly resonate. Let's get a taste of whether or not it all translates to Shanahan burgundy and gold.
CB Josh Wilson - one request, Josh. If a ball hits you in the hands tomorrow tonight, catch it. Seriously.
Okay, so we won't get to see the most polarizing figure in Washington this side of Barack Obama, QB John Beck. Not on the field anyway. But we'll sure as hell see him on the sidelines--you just know the cameras and commentary will be all about the "Beckman QB controversy."
Perhaps it's just as well. It will give us some grist for the mill for preseason Game Two next week. You know, when it starts being less about just seeing the Redskins again and more about assessing them.
For tomorrow night at least, it's enough to just soak it all in.
The NFL is back. The Redskins are back. The beer will seem crisper, the food will seem tastier, the hig-def TV will seem ... uh .. hi-deffer. And, for at least this one week, most of us will remember that preseason results--both the score and the inevitable tendency to assess individual players from a few TV isolation shots---mean next to nothing.
No, Preseason Game One is not hard to frame. At 7:30pm EST Friday night, the Washington Redskins, old and new alike, once again strap it up and start hitting people wearing other colors.
It's as simple as coming home.
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