Back to Football: A League-Wide Look at Week One of the NFL Preseason

Official NFL Release

It's time to get back to football!

"It's a new season, that's how I look at it," says Super Bowl XLV MVP quarterback AARON RODGERS of the Green Bay Packers.  "New opportunities, new challenges. Every year is different."

All 32 NFL clubs will be in action this week as the preseason schedule begins with nationally televised games Thursday and Monday nights on ESPN, Friday on FOX and Saturday on NFL Network.

A few of the matchups in Preseason Week 1:

  • GREEN BAY at CLEVELAND (Saturday, NFL Network, 7:30 PM ET):  The Green Bay Packers will start the weekend in Washington, D.C., where they will be honored at the White House by PresidentBARACK OBAMA on Friday, August 12 for their Super Bowl XLV victory.

"That's a childhood dream for a lot of guys," says Packers Pro Bowl safety NICK COLLINS about visiting the White House.  "I can't wait to see it. I've seen it on TV, now I get to see it for myself."

The following night, the defending champions will fast forward to the 2011 season when they visit the Cleveland Browns.  The Packers, who brought the first title back to Green Bay since the 1996 season, are focused on a repeat effort this year.

"It's hard to win a Super Bowl, even harder to win two," says Packers All-Star cornerback CHARLES WOODSON.  "So I think if you really want to be considered a great, great team, then you win two, you win back-to-back. We're going to work hard to try to make sure that happens."

Cleveland Browns head coach PAT SHURMUR will make his debut on Saturday night in front of the home crowd.  In 2010, Shurmur served as the St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator and helped the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 draft, SAM BRADFORD, to Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

"The direction they're taking this organization is really exciting for me," says Browns Pro Bowl tackle JOE THOMAS.  "The coaching staff MIKE HOLMGREN has put together, the scouting group, the general manager - I think they've done everything first class."

 

  • NEW YORK JETS AT HOUSTON (Monday, ESPN, 8:00 PM ET):  The New York Jets and Houston Texans kickoff on Monday night as both clubs look to take the next step in 2011.

The Jets have advanced to the AFC Championship Game in consecutive years.  A huge part of the success in New York will depend on quarterback MARK SANCHEZ.  The 24-year old signal caller has a 19-12 (.613) record as a starter and enters his third season as the unquestioned leader of the Jets.

"When guys know that your quarterback's the hardest-working player in the locker room, through mental preparation, offseason preparation and all that, it's hard not to respect that," says Jets head coach REX RYAN.  "He knows all the positions now, where you're supposed to be at. That's impressive.  I think everybody sees him as that leader now. I think everybody recognizes that."

The Houston Texans will look to tune-up their high-powered offense featuring running back ARIAN FOSTER, wide receiver ANDRE JOHNSON, and quarterback MATT SCHAUB.

On the defensive side of the ball, Texans first-year defensive coordinator WADE PHILLIPS will utilize rookie defensive end J.J. WATT and veteran newcomer cornerback JOHNATHAN JOSEPH alongside returning All-Stars - linebacker DE MECO RYANS and defensive end MARIO WILLIAMS

 

  • SEATTLE at SAN DIEGO (Thursday, 8:00 PM ET):   ESPN's preseason schedule will begin on Thursday night, when the San Diego Chargers host the Seattle Seahawks in a contest featuring quarterbacksPHILIP RIVERS of the Chargers and TARVARIS JACKSON of the Seahawks.

Rivers led the NFL with 4,710 passing yards in 2010 and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN FOUTS as the only Chargers quarterbacks to reach 4,000 passing yards in three consecutive seasons.

"What separates the great ones from the guys who are close is that the great ones make everyone around them better," says Chargers head coach NORV TURNER.  "I've never been around a guy in his position who had to do more than Philip did last year.  To me, that's the sign of the next-level guy."

Jackson, who registered 20 starts in five seasons (2006-2010) with the Vikings, has been named the starting quarterback for the NFC West defending champions. 

"Tarvaris brings so much continuity to us, I think it's the best thing for our club," says Seahawks head coach PETE CARROLL.  "I think this guy is a heck of a prospect that's already been embraced by our players and our coaches.  What he brings us is something special. He's a very talented kid."

 

  • TAMPA BAY AT KANSAS CITY (Friday, FOX, 8:00 PM ET):  The Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were two of the NFL's most improved teams in 2010, will match up in primetime on Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium on FOX.

Led by the No.1 rushing attack in the NFL last season (164.2 yards per game), the Chiefs became the most recent team to go from "worst-to-first" in its own division.  Kansas City improved its 2009 record (4-12) by six wins to claim the 2010 AFC West title at 10-6.

Second-year quarterback JOSH FREEMAN guided Tampa Bay to a seven-win improvement last season (10-6), following a 3-13 record in 2009.  The Buccaneers fell short of a playoff appearance in 2010 but are confident that the playoffs are attainable this season.

"For the players, fans and the media in general, there are much, much higher expectations coming off a 10-6 season instead of a 3-13 season," says Buccaneers center JEFF FAINE.  "The expectations are extremely high for us to make the playoffs and go deep in the playoffs, and I guess that's back to where Buccaneer football was before."

 

AMONG OTHER INTERESTING GAMES THIS WEEK:

  • BALTIMORE at PHILADELPHIA (Thursday, 7:30 PM ET):  All-Star LB RAY LEWIS, who enters his 16th NFL season, will lead a talented Baltimore team into Philadelphia to face the NFL's reigning Comeback Player of the Year, QB MICHAEL VICK.  Joining Vick will be newcomers - CB NNAMDI ASOMUGHADE JASON BABINRB RONNIE BROWN and CB DOMINQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE - who look to play a pivotal role for the Eagles this season. 
  • DENVER at DALLAS (Thursday, 8:30 PM ET):  JOHN FOX will make his debut as the Broncos' head coach, while closely evaluating his QB trio of KYLE ORTONTIM TEBOW and BRADY QUINN against a Cowboys defense directed by new defensive coordinator ROB RYAN.  Cowboys QB TONY ROMO will take the field for the first time since suffering a fractured left collarbone in Week 7 against the Giants last season.
  • MIAMI at ATLANTA (Friday, 7:30 PM ET):  Falcons QB MATT RYAN, who passed for a career-best 3,705 yards last year, will test out new receiving target JULIO JONES, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.  Jones will lineup opposite of WR RODDY WHITE, who led the NFL with 115 receptions last season.  Miami will counter on offense with All-Star WR BRANDON MARSHALLin the passing game and RB REGGIE BUSH on the ground, who will make his Dolphins debut.
  • MINNESOTA at TENNESSEE (Saturday, 8:00 PM ET):  Veteran quarterbacks MATT HASSELBECK of Tennessee and DONOVAN MC NABB of Minnesota each enter their 13th NFL season and will make their debut for their respective clubs on Saturday night under the guidance of LESLIE FRAZIER of the Vikings and MIKE MUNCHAK of the Titans, who open their first season as head coaches.

THIS WEEK'S NFL SCHEDULE (AUGUST 11-15)

(All times local)

Thursday, August 11

Saturday, August 13

Seattle at San Diego, 5:00 PM (ESPN)

Green Bay at Cleveland, 7:30 PM (NFL Network)

Jacksonville at New England, 7:30 PM

New York Giants at Carolina, 8:00 PM

Baltimore at Philadelphia, 7:30 PM

Buffalo at Chicago, 7:00 PM

Denver at Dallas, 7:30 PM

Indianapolis at St. Louis, 7:00 PM

Arizona at Oakland, 7:00 PM

Minnesota at Tennessee, 7:00 PM

 

Friday, August 12

Monday, August 15

Tampa Bay at Kansas City, 7:00 PM (FOX)

New York Jets at Houston, 7:00 PM (ESPN)

Miami at Atlanta, 7:30 PM

 

Cincinnati at Detroit, 7:30 PM

Pittsburgh at Washington, 7:30 PM

San Francisco at New Orleans, 7:00 PM

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