I'm sure that by the second or third preseason game I'll want to fast forward to September 9, but for now let's revel in the arrival of Eagles football.
I see punter Mat McBriar on the field and know that he has a critical game in front of him. He'll kick minus the brace he wore in the early part of training camp. I see the injured players on the field -- tight end Brent Celek, defensive tackle Mike Patterson, safety Colt Anderson -- as they begin their workout before calling it a day. They are in rehab mode, not game prep mode.
I see the athletic trainers dotting the field and I pray that tonight is a slow one for them and that they are, in fact, bored to tears with inactivity.
What do I know about what the Eagles hope to accomplish tonight? I know they are in the process of evaluating talent, and that what matters is putting together the best 53-man roster possible. Wins and losses don't matter, but it sure feels better to win.
It was suggested to me by a friend that the Eagles, as they have in that past, could open the game with some sort of offensive bang. The Donovan McNabb-to-Terrell Owens comes to mind. *That *was spectacular.
Would the Eagles dial up a deep throw to DeSean Jackson tonight? Just to make sure that the proper mood is set at Lincoln Financial Field? Possibly, but my first reaction is, um, why would you make Michael Vick take a seven-step drop against a defense that likes to blitz? Doesn't that worry anyone else out there?
Some other thoughts ...
- It's a perfect night for football at Lincoln Financial Field. Great temperatures, light winds. Absolutely perfect.
- I'm hearing good things about the progress made by Jaiquawn Jarrett, the second-year man from Temple. Tonight is a good test for him as he gets some valuable time. Pittsburgh is said to be dedicating a bit more of the offensive philosophy to the running game this year with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Jarrett has to be physical. Look for O.J. Atogwe to start, though.
- Three quarterbacks, three halfbacks, one fullback, five wide receivers and two tight ends. That's how I project those positions as far as the 53-man roster goes. You break it down how you wish.
- I think Juan Castillo is going to mix in some blitz tonight. I don't know why, but I just think there are things he wants to work on. And I don't expect the cornerbacks to lay off in coverage. Get them up at the line of scrimmage and see what they can do.
- There is no question that McBriar is in the lead as far as the punting job goes, but the Eagles aren't going to hand him the job. If Chas Henry kicks as well as McBriar, the job probably goes to McBriar. Henry has to clearly outkick McBriar to win the job.
- Want a great battle? Look at the fullback position. Stanley Havili starts and is in the lead, but Emil Igwenagu is making a serious push for the job. I would love to see some short-yardage handoffs in this game.
- In the past, the Steelers have schemed for preseason games and the Eagles have not. I don't know the approach the Steelers have taken for this one, but the Eagles have spent very little time prepping for Pittsburgh.
- Keenan Clayton is in a prime position to make an impact with Jamar Chaney out because of a hamstring injury. Clayton will get loads of playing time at the WILL linebacker position. A strong showing will go a long way toward him making this team.
- It's a strange feeling: I want to see Brandon Boykin return kickoffs, but the more opportunities he has, the more Pittsburgh scores. Damaris Johnson is the punt return man. Can't wait to see what he's got.