Take in a deep breath.
Now, listen to me very, very carefully: I don't care what plans you had scheduled for tonight. I don't care if it's your wedding anniversary, your kid's birthday, or that anger management class you promised your wife you'd attend. None of that matters tonight.
Do you know why?
BECAUSE COLTS FOOTBALL IS BACK, JERKY!
That's right kids! Peyton, Marvin, Dwight, Cato, Bob and the Blue Horses play their first "game" of the 2006 season tonight against the St. Louis Rams. Now, with each game during the regular season, I'll do a matchup breakdown showing who has strengths here, weaknesses there, etc. For pre-season, I don't do that. I just outline what I, personally, am looking for from certain players. Here's what I'm going to pay special attention to tonight, when the Colts and Rams play on Fox:
- The first team offense will play for 15 snaps. Dom Rhodes will start. I'm curious to know how he looks. How does he cut? People tell me he looks in great shape, and has had a great camp. I'm interested to see how that translates to the field.
- Joseph Addai will play for the first team offense. How will he react to his first NFL experience?
- Gilbert Gardner will play at SAM. How does he look? Is he grasping his position well? Is he making plays, flying to the football, etc.?
- Vinatieri's kick-offs: how do the look? Are they touching back, or hitting inside the 5 yard line?
- TJ Rushing. He will return some punts and kicks tonight. I'm very interested to see how he does. Terrence Wilkins will also get some time, but I know what Wilkins brings. Rushing is the wild card.
- Marlin Jackson will start tonight because Jason David has a slightly pulled groin. If Jackson performs well tonight, he might take David's job from him. Kelvin Hayden will play the nickel.
- How does Freddie Keiaho look playing the WILL? He'll see a lot of action there tonight.
- Will we see 288 pound Darrell Reid at FB? God, I hope so!
Notable players out for this game: Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders, Mike Doss, Antoine Bethea, Jason David, Montae Reagor, Tim Jennings, and Corey Simon.
I'll have an open thread up during the game, so folks can chat about what is going on. As always, with any pre-season game for any football team, I always hope that no one gets hurt. That's always #1 on every fan's mind: just get through the friggin' pre-season without any major injuries. What Cleveland is having to go through is just terrible, and Chris at DawgsByNature is doing THE best job of reporting camp news of any of us SB Nation football bloggers. And he's had a lot of heartache to deal with.
Cleveland lost their starting center (and big free agent pick-up) LeCharles Bentley to a season-ending knee injury the first day of camp. His back-up, Bob Hallen, is now gone having SKIPPED OUT ON TRAINING CAMP. The Browns had to trade with the Patriots to get a center: Ross Tucker. Unreal in Cleveland right now, but Chris is blogging it like a champ.
So, here's to the the start of football, and no more major injuries for anyone. I hate to see players hurt, even players I hate.