Saturday NFL PreSeason News and Notes

Saturday NFL PreSeason News and Notes

NFL Preseason Preview - Kansas City (0-0) at Cleveland (0-0)
(Sports Network)

A pair of heated quarterback competitions will take center stage on the banks of Lake Erie Saturday night, when the Cleveland Browns play host to the Kansas City Chiefs in the preseason opener for both teams.

The Browns used the No. 22 overall pick on Notre Dame signal-caller Brady Quinn in the April Draft, and despite a recently-completed contract holdout, Quinn is widely believed to be in the running for Cleveland's starting job. In order to win it, however, Quinn will have to unseat incumbents Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson, both of whom saw significant action in the Browns' disappointing 4-12 season of 2006. All three Browns QBs should see time on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs will be taking a long look at their two starting quarterback candidates, veteran Damon Huard and youngster Brodie Croyle. Huard played well in relief of the injured Trent Green last season, guiding Kansas City to several important wins in what would eventually become a playoff season for Herm Edwards' club. But the team's "quarterback of the future" is considered by most to be Alabama product and 2006 second-round draft choice Brodie Croyle.

Huard is slated to start in Cleveland, with Croyle succeeding him in the lineup.

Among the other notables appearing on Saturday night will be Browns running back Jamal Lewis, who joined Cleveland in the offseason following a seven-year run with division rival Baltimore. Lewis is being tabbed to energize a ground game that struggled while featuring the since-departed Reuben Droughns in the starting role a year ago.

Linebacker Willie McGinest (back) is among the Browns notables who will not appear on Saturday.

Edwards and his staff, meanwhile, will want to get a good look at wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, whom the team invested the No. 23 overall pick in the April draft upon and is eventually expected to be the club's top wideout.

Among those who won't be in uniform for the Chiefs are Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson, who is holding out of training camp while protesting his lack of a multi-year contract. Fellow running back Priest Holmes, who is attempting a comeback after missing all of the 2006 season due to injury, is unlikely to see any game action either.

The Chiefs have a 3-1 lead in their all-time preseason series with the Browns, though Cleveland was a 21-19 road winner in the last such matchup, prior to the 2004 campaign.

The Browns were 31-28 overtime winners when the clubs met in Cleveland during Week 13 of last season.

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NFL Preseason Preview - Washington (0-0) at Tennessee (0-0)
(Sports Network)

Vince Young will make his return to an NFL field on Saturday night, when the 2006 Rookie of the Year and his Tennessee Titans play host to the Washington Redskins in the preseason opener for both teams.

Young comes off an electrifying rookie campaign, one in which he nearly rallied the Titans from an 0-5 start to a playoff appearance. Only a Week 17 loss to the Patriots, which dropped Tennessee to 8-8 on the year, prevented Jeff Fisher's club from making a surprise appearance in the postseason bracket.

Following a tumultuous offseason, Young will on Saturday begin trying to get on the same page with his offensive supporting cast. Past starters such as running back Travis Henry (now with the Broncos) and wideouts Drew Bennett (Rams) and Bobby Wade (Vikings) have all departed Nashville, meaning Fisher and the Tennessee staff will be closely monitoring the Monday night work of possible '07 regulars such as running backs Chris Brown and LenDale White, along with a wideout corps including Brandon Jones, Courtney Roby, and recent acquisition Eric Moulds.

Defensively, Tennessee will be contending with the absence of cornerback Pacman Jones, who has been suspended for the season by the NFL due to numerous off-the-field problems.

Washington, meanwhile, will be trying to take the first tentative step toward respectability after a weak 5-11 showing in 2006.

The Redskins revamped their defense in the offseason, adding the likes of middle linebacker London Fletcher-Baker (ex-Bills), safety LaRon Landry (first round draft pick, LSU), and cornerback Fred Smoot (ex-Vikings) to a unit that struggled to make plays a year ago.

Offensively, head coach Joe Gibbs will be looking for a consistent effort from a first-team offense featuring quarterback Jason Campbell. Campbell, who will be beginning his first full year as a starter, is expected to see only brief time on Saturday, in keeping with preseason tradition.

On the injury front for Washington, running back Clinton Portis (knee) is among the players likely to be held out of action.

The Redskins hold a 3-2 edge in their all-time preseason series with the Titans, including a 27-24 road win in the last such matchup, during the 1998 preseason.

Washington and Tennessee also met in Week 6 of the 2006 regular season, with the Titans springing a 25-22 upset at FedEx Field.

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NFL Preseason Preview - Green Bay (0-0) at Pittsburgh (1-0)
(Sports Network)

Mike Tomlin will work the Heinz Field sideline for the first time on Saturday night, when the first-year head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers leads his team into a preseason confrontation with the Green Bay Packers.

Tomlin, the former Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator, made his preseason debut in a 20-7 win over the New Orleans Saints in the Hall of Fame Game from Canton, OH this past Sunday.

The victory included some crisp (albeit brief) play from the team's first-team offense, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger completed 2- of-3 passes for 73 yards on the team's opening drive, which resulted in a touchdown run for Najeh Davenport. Also putting forth a strong early showing was wideout Cedrick Wilson, who helped set up the TD and ended the game with four catches for 99 yards.

Davenport was subbing for the injured Willie Parker (knee), who was held out for precautionary reasons. Parker is expected to be out again on Saturday, as is first-round draft choice and linebacker Lawrence Timmons (groin).

Though much attention will be given to a brief appearance by Packers quarterback and future Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre, the bigger story for Green Bay on Saturday will reside elsewhere in the backfield.

Following the offseason free agent defection of longtime Packers backfield staple Ahman Green, a group of players including holdovers Vernand Morency and Noah Herron along with second-round draft choice Brandon Jackson (Nebraska) are vying for starting duties.

Morency, who injured his knee early in camp, is unlikely to get a chance to compete for the job with a strong performance against the Steelers. Two more running backs, seventh-round draft choice DeShawn Wynn (quadriceps) and fullback Brandon Miree (shoulder) are not expected to be available on Saturday.

Among the high-profile players that will be in uniform for Green Bay on Saturday are first-round draft choice and defensive tackle Justin Harrell (Tennessee), who is vying for a starting job.

The Packers hold a 13-9-1 edge in their all-time preseason series with the Steelers, including a 24-17 home victory in the last such matchup, prior to the 1996 season.

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NFL Preseason Preview - Jacksonville (0-0) at Miami (0-0)
(Sports Network)

Cam Cameron makes his sideline debut in south Florida on Saturday night, as the first-year head coach of the Miami Dolphins leads his team into battle against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the preseason opener for both clubs.

Cameron came to Miami in the offseason following a wildly successful run as the offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers. The coach, whose only previous experience as a head man came at Indiana University from 1997 through 2001, is being charged with breathing life into a Dolphins organization that last reached the playoffs in 2001. Miami went 6-10 last season under since- departed head coach Nick Saban.

Re-tooling the offense will be job number one for Cameron, who hand-picked a quarterback to lead his attack after relocating to South Beach. Former Chiefs starter Trent Green, who will make his debut in a Miami uniform Saturday night, is that man.

The 37-year-old veteran, who threw for more than 3,500 yards in five consecutive seasons (2001-05) while with the Chiefs, will be throwing to a new-look group of receivers that includes first-round draft choice Ted Ginn (Ohio State) and ex-Packers tight end David Martin.

Defensively, Miami will be without the services of free agent acquisition and outside linebacker Joey Porter, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery earlier in the week.

For Jacksonville, the big story will be the offense.

New coordinator Dirk Koetter, formerly the head coach at Arizona State, will be looking for crisp play from starting quarterback Byron Leftwich, among others. Leftwich will make his return to the field after missing the final 10 games of 2006 with an ankle injury.

David Garrard, who played in Leftwich's absence a year ago, is also expected to see time against Miami, as is former No. 1 overall pick Tim Couch, who is attempting a comeback after three full seasons away from the game.

Among the notable Jaguars who won't be available on Saturday are center Brad Meester (broken foot), who should miss all of camp, and wideout Ernest Wilford (knee), who will probably be held out for precautionary reasons after sustaining an injury in practice earlier this week.

Jacksonville leads the all-time preseason series with Miami, 4-1, including a 31-26 road victory prior to last season.

The Jaguars were also 24-10 road winners when the teams met in Week 13 of the 2006 regular season.

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NFL Preseason Preview - Carolina (0-0) at N.Y. Giants (0-0)
(Sports Network)

A revamped New York Giants team will be on display for the first time Saturday night, when Tom Coughlin's club plays host to the Carolina Panthers in the preseason opener for both teams.

The Giants are undergoing more experiments than perhaps any other squad in the league as 2007 is set to begin.

First, the club will be counting on former backup Brandon Jacobs, the 6-4, 260-pound bruiser out of Southern Illinois, to successfully take over running back duties from the retired Tiki Barber.

Jacobs will be running behind an altered offensive line, one that includes first-time left tackle David Diehl. In a somewhat controversial move among Giants fans, Diehl was moved from right guard to starting left tackle when the team released former first-team LT Luke Petitgout in the offseason.

Defensively, the tinkering includes moving second-year player Mathias Kiwanuka from defensive end to outside linebacker, a change being made in an effort to rejuvenate what has recently been a shaky corps of linebackers.

In addition to Kiwanuka, fans of the G-Men will be keeping a close eye Saturday night on free safety James Butler, who served in a backup role last season but is expected to start in this year's secondary.

On the injury front, wideouts Plaxico Burress (ankle) and Amani Toomer (knee), rookie cornerback and first-round draft choice Aaron Ross (hamstring), and linebacker Gerris Wilkinson (knee) are among those not expected to play against the Panthers.

Defensive end Michael Strahan is still embroiled in a much-publicized camp holdout.

Carolina didn't make nearly as many alterations to its two-deep in the offseason as did New York, and the team's biggest acquisition on offense - wideout Dwayne Jarrett - won't play on Saturday night due to a hamstring injury.

In keeping with preseason tradition, Panthers starters are not expected to see a wealth of time in the first tune-up, meaning quarterback Jake Delhomme and wideout Steve Smith will be among those making only token appearances.

Among the top storylines for John Fox's squad on Saturday will be the first appearance in a Carolina uniform for quarterback David Carr, the former Texan and No. 1 overall draft pick who is being slated to back Delhomme in 2007.

For the Panther defense, linebacker and first-round draft pick Jon Beason (Miami-Florida) should see his first time in an NFL game situation.

Carolina holds a 4-1 lead in the all-time preseason series with the Giants, though the G-Men were 27-21 home winners in the last such matchup, prior to the 2005 season.

The Giants scored a 27-13 road victory over Carolina in Week 14 of the 2006 regular season.

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NFL Preseason Preview - Chicago (0-0) at Houston (0-0)
(Sports Network)

Matt Schaub will make his first appearance in a Texans uniform on Saturday night, when the new Houston starting quarterback and his team club the Chicago Bears in the preseason opener for both teams.

Schaub, who was obtained from the Atlanta Falcons in March in exchange for a higher first-round draft pick in 2007 and second-round selections in 2007 and 2008, comes to Houston after serving as Michael Vick's backup for three seasons. The Virginia product has just two starts on his NFL resume' (both losses), but was handed a reported six-year, $48 million deal by a Texans team that has been desperate for consistent quarterback play since entering the league in 2002.

Schaub replaces David Carr, who experienced five topsy-turvy years in Houston before signing as a backup with the Carolina Panthers during the offseason.

Schaub is not the only high-profile newcomer that will don Houston colors for the initial time on Saturday. Running back Ahman Green, whose seven years in Green Bay included selection to four Pro Bowl teams, is being slated to take over starting duties at running back for the Texans.

Schaub, Green, and the rest of the Houston starters are expected to see only limited time in Saturday's tune-up.

Defensively, the big story for the Texans will be the first Houston appearance of first-round pick Amobi Akoye, whom the team selected out of Louisville in the April draft.

The Bears, meanwhile, will be in uniform for the first time since their Super Bowl loss to the Colts this past January.

Lovie Smith's club has undergone some notable changes, including at running back, where former first-round draft pick Cedric Benson takes over full-time for the departed Thomas Jones (now with the Jets).

Quarterback Rex Grossman has hung onto his starting job after an up-and-down 2006, and will have a pair of fresh targets in tight end Greg Olsen and wideout Devin Hester. Olsen will make his debut in an NFL uniform after being selected in the first round of the April draft out of Miami-Florida, while the electrifying Hester is being featured as a part-time wideout in addition to his duties with the defense and special teams.

Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer (ankle) and defensive tackle Tommie Harris (hamstring) are among the prominent Chicago players who are not expected to see action against Houston.

The Texans won the only meeting of any kind between the two teams all-time, claiming a 24-5 decision at Soldier Field in Week 15 of the 2004 campaign.

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NFL Preseason Weekend Betting Preview
Chance Harper

The NFL preseason has served up its appetizers; now it's time for a more filling weekend schedule with eight games on the slate for Saturday and Sunday.  Of the 16 teams to play in those contests, five have a new head coach on the sidelines and another, Jacksonville, made a major overhaul in their assistant coaches.
We’re already in the thick of Week 1 of the NFL preseason. There are seven games on tap for Saturday and one more for Sunday, so let’s get right to it.

Green Bay at Pittsburgh (-6½)
The Steelers are laying big points here in part because they’ll be playing their second game of the preseason. They beat the Saints 20-7 at last Sunday’s Hall of Fame game in Canton. Pittsburgh has a first-year coach in Mike Tomlin, as well as tremendous depth at quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch and Brian St. Pierre. The Packers are expected to lean heavily on QB Aaron Rodgers, as Brett Favre has a sore ankle.

Jacksonville at Miami (-1)
The Jax offense is going to be under the microscope with three new coaches on Jack Del Rio’s staff: Dirk Koetter, Mike Shula and Todd Monken. Del Rio says QBs Byron Leftwich and David Garrard will feature in 15-20 plays. Tim Couch and Quinn Gray fill out the depth chart.

Miami has a brand new coach in Cam Cameron and a somewhat chagrined fan base to manage. The Fins are 3-7-2 ATS in their last 12 preseason games, and 0-6 ATS in Week 1. Their projected backup QB, rookie John Beck, has had mixed results in training camp.

Kansas City at Cleveland (-3)
Both teams are deep at the pivot; however, only the Browns can boast a four-way battle for the starting job. Brady Quinn won’t start, though, and is unsure whether he will play after just recently signing a contract and reporting to camp. The Browns are 6-2 ATS in exhibition play under coach Romeo Crennel.

Kansas City has an interesting QB battle between Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle, plus former CFL star Casey Printers, but the Chiefs are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 preseason games and 0-4 ATS in Week 1.

Carolina at N.Y. Giants (+1)
The Giants have rattled off seven straight ATS preseason victories under strict disciplinarian Tom Coughlin. But the Giants’ offense will be without receiver Amani Toomer, and the status of both WR Plaxico Burress and TE Jeremy Shockey was uncertain at press time. The under is on a 6-2 roll for the G-Men, and Carolina went under the posted total in all four exhibition games last year.

Chicago at Houston (+1)
Under appears to be the name of the game here as well. It’s on a 9-4 roll for the Bears and 6-3 for the Texans. The betting public appears to be pounding the Bears in this matchup, but Houston went 3-0-1 ATS in Gary Kubiak’s first season as coach. This makes sense, since he worked in Denver under Mike Shanahan, who also has a proven track record in the preseason. Expect plenty of emphasis on offense for the Texans as they work on their new Denver-style 'zone' scheme.

Washington at Tennessee (-3)
Joe Gibbs has a lot more to worry about than winning preseason games. Washington is 1-7 SU and ATS since Gibbs returned to the sideline. The Skins’ offensive line is in crisis after Chris Samuels sprained his knee early at camp.

The Titans have both Kerry Collins and Tim Rattay on the depth chart behind Vince Young, but Tennessee is only 2-6 ATS the past two exhibition seasons.

Arizona at Oakland (-1)
This is a new era for the Raiders. New coach: Lane Kiffin. New quarterbacks: Daunte Culpepper, Josh McCown and JaMarcus Russell. McCown is slated to get the start against Arizona.

However, Russell had yet to sign a contract at press time, and the betting public is on the Cardinals, dragging the spread down from two points at the open. They also have a new coach in Ken Whisenhunt, and the Cards are 11-5 ATS over the past four preseasons.

Seattle at San Diego (-3½)
Sunday’s lone game sees yet another coaching debut at home, with Norv Turner taking over the Chargers. Turner says the No. 1 unit (aside from LaDainian Tomlinson) will play roughly one quarter, with the No. 2 unit taking 30-35 snaps. That should leave very little time in the fourth for anyone else. The Over might be worth a rare early preseason look, going 7-3 for Seattle and 8-4 for San Diego.

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NFL Preseason Preview - Arizona (0-0) at Oakland (0-0)
(Sports Network)

A couple of new leaders will take their respective sidelines for the first time on Saturday night, as the Oakland Raiders play host to the Arizona Cardinals in the initial preseason tune-up for both teams.

Donning the headset for the Silver and Black will be Lane Kiffin, formerly the offensive coordinator for USC, who takes over for the fired Art Shell. The 32- year-old Kiffin, son of longtime Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, is the youngest head coach in the modern era of the NFL. He takes over a moribund franchise that has gone a combined 15-49 since 2003, and he does so without No. 1 overall pick and "quarterback of the future" JaMarcus Russell, who was still embroiled in a contract holdout as of Friday afternoon.

Former Cardinals starter Josh McCown, holdover Andrew Walter, and the recently acquired Daunte Culpepper are all slated to see time at QB for the Raiders on Saturday.

Arizona, meanwhile, will be operating in a game situation under head coach Ken Whisenhunt for the first time.

Whisenhunt was handed the Cardinals job after a successful three-year stint as offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Like Kiffin, he has a major challenge in changing the culture of losing within his organization. The Cardinals have just one playoff win since 1947 and have posted only one winning season since 1984.

Whisenhunt will build around an offensive corps that includes quarterback Matt Leinart, running back Edgerrin James, and wideouts Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, none of whom are expected to see significant minutes on Saturday.

First-round draft choice Levi Brown (Penn State), whom the Cardinals selected with the No. 5 overall pick in April, will get his first work in an Arizona uniform.

On the injury front, Oakland running back LaMont Jordan (back) and defensive lineman Tyler Brayton (elbow) are among the significant figures that will miss the preseason lid-lifter.

Saturday will mark the 10th all-time preseason meeting between the Raiders and Cardinals, with Oakland entering the game holding a 6-3 edge. The two last met in the preseason prior to the 2005 season, when the Cardinals were 17-16 road victors.

One of Oakland's two wins during the 2006 regular season came against Arizona, a 22-9 home triumph in Week 7.

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Saturday's Preseason Tip Sheet

Green Bay (+6.5) at Pittsburgh
Saturday – 7:30 pm EST

Packer head coach Mike McCarthy went through a rough preseason in his first season at the helm, going 1-3 both SU and ATS and losing by an average of nearly 20 points per game. McCarthy and the Packers then proceeded to lose four of their first five regular season games that year. Green Bay wants to reverse that trend with a solid preseason this time around. Brett Favre figures to see little action in the opener but former first-round pick Aaron Rodgers has reportedly looked impressive in camp and should get plenty of reps. The under has gone 7-2 in Green Bay’s nine non-conference games over the last three years.
Mike Tomlin’s debut as Pittsburgh head coach couldn’t have gone any better as the Steelers thoroughly dominated New Orleans in a 20-7 win. Now Tomlin gets to make his home debut in front of the Steeler faithful. Pittsburgh will again be without starting running back Willie Parker as well as guard Alan Faneca. But those two were both out last week and the Steelers still managed to tally 173 yards on the ground. Hall of Fame Game participants have historically fared very well in their following game, going 28-16-4 ATS since 1983. Additionally, Pittsburgh has now stayed under the total in five straight preseason games.

Jacksonville (+1) at Miami
Saturday – 7:30 pm EST

Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio’s four years at the helm have produced some great preseasons. The Jaguars are 11-5 SU and 10-6 ATS in the preseason during Del Rio’s tenure, including 3-1 marks a year ago. Jacksonville defeated the Dolphins 31-26 as 1.5-point dogs in the preseason opener last year and will aim to do the same this season. The Jags boast one of the deepest and most experienced quarterback trios in football, with Byron Leftwich, David Garrard and Quinn Gray all starting at least one game last year. Leftwich and Garrard are expected to play 15 to 20 plays each with Gray and former first overall pick Tim Couch splitting the rest of the snaps.

New Miami head coach Cam Cameron has endured a rough start to his tenure, whether it was the drafting of Ted Ginn or the seemingly never-ending trade negotiations for Trent Green. He’ll look to put all of the doubters to rest in this preseason opener. Green is expected to start the opener but is listed as the co-starter with Cleo Lemon on the team’s depth chart. Green and Lemon are expected to split snaps while impressive rookie John Beck will step in after that. The Dolphins are just 3-6 SU and 2-6-1 ATS the last two preseasons but Cameron will want to turn those fortunes around.

Kansas City (+3) at Cleveland
Saturday – 7:30 pm EST

Much of the training camp talk in Kansas City has centered on the holdout of Larry Johnson and the return of Priest Holmes. Head coach Herm Edwards has been one of the league’s best preseason coaches recently, though, with a 17-8 SU and 16-9 ATS record in his career. Brodie Croyle will get the start under center in the opener, followed by Damon Huard, who had a solid nine-game run as the starter last year. Edwards has said Croyle will get a majority of the snaps throughout the preseason because he’s younger and needs the extra repetitions.

While Johnson is stealing the headlines in Kansas City, first-round pick Brady Quinn is doing the same in Cleveland. Quinn’s recently ended holdout and everything that preceded it took attention away from has reportedly been a quality camp in Cleveland. With Quinn still learning the playbook, Charlie Frye is listed atop the depth chart followed by Derek Anderson. Head coach Romeo Crennel has stated that both quarterbacks have played equally well in camp so it can be expected that each will receive an equal amount of snaps.

Washington (+3) at Tennessee
Saturday – 8:00 pm EST

Joe Gibbs’ preseason record in his first stint with Redskins was very good but his record in his second stint isn’t nearly as nice. Washington is just 4-9 SU and 5-8 ATS over the last three preseasons with Gibbs at the helm, including 0-4 marks last season. One advantage the Redskins have is solid depth behind starting signal-caller Jason Campbell. Mark Brunell and Todd Collins have a combined 28 years of experience and both are very comfortable in the offense. Their experience could lead to more second-half scoring.

Jeff Fisher’s career 24-21-2 ATS preseason record is nothing to sneeze at but the last two years haven’t gone nearly as well. The Titans are just 2-6 both SU and ATS the last two preseasons, going 1-3 SU and ATS both years. The two years prior to that stretch saw Tennessee go a perfect 8-0 ATS, though. Vince Young and Kerry Collins don’t figure to see much action in the opener as Fisher will want to keep Young healthy while Collins doesn’t need the work. That leaves most of the snaps to Tim Rattay and Kent Smith.

Carolina (+1) at New York Giants
Saturday – 8:00 pm EST

Carolina has been one of the best preseason teams in the NFL under head coach John Fox’s watch, going 13-3 SU and 12-3-1 ATS over the last four years. Carolina’s quarterback situation could keep that success going. Jake Delhomme doesn’t figure to see much action in the opener but free-agent acquisition and former first overall draft pick David Carr has impressed in camp and should see significant action. A change of scenery could be just what Carr needed.

New York head coach Tom Coughlin is a no nonsense kind of coach and, while that may rub some players the wrong way, it has produced great preseason success. The Giants went 4-0 both SU and ATS in the preseason last year and have won seven straight preseason contests overall. Overall, Coughlin is 28-17 SU and 25-19-1 ATS for his career. Coughlin, perhaps more than any other coach in the league, has his head on the chopping block and will need a strong showing to help solidify his status.

Chicago (-1) at Houston
Saturday – 8:00 pm EST

The Bears come into this weekend as the only road favorite on the schedule. While part of that line is due to the Chicago defense and the overall ineptitude in Houston, Chicago’s depth at quarterback also played a part. Rex Grossman won’t play much but that may be a blessing in disguise. Second- and third-stringers Brian Griese and Kyle Orton have both enjoyed regular season success as starters and fourth-teamer Chris Leak is fresh off leading the Florida Gators to the national championship. These three make scoring a strong possibility for the Bears throughout the game.

Texan head coach Gary Kubiak puts a strong emphasis on preseason success and that was evident in Houston going 3-1 SU and 3-0-1 ATS last season. Kubiak’s drive for a strong postseason will be just as strong this year. A shaky quarterback rotation may prevent that, though. Prized acquisition Matt Schaub is still learning the offense and won’t play much anyways. Backup Sage Rosenfels has experience but little success on his resume. And Bradlee Van Pelt and Quinton Porter have combined to complete two passes in their careers.

Arizona (+2) at Oakland
Saturday – 10:00 pm EST

Ken Whisenhunt makes his coaching debut in Arizona after coming over from the Pittsburgh staff in the offseason. Whisenhunt comes from the Bill Cowher school of thought, which put little emphasis on preseason. But Whisenhunt, like most first-year coaches, will want to make a strong first impression. There’s not much depth behind starting quarterback Matt Leinart and backup Kurt Warner, though.

Oakland head coach Lane Kiffin joins Whisenhunt in making his NFL head coaching debut tonight. One advantage that Kiffin has on Whisenhunt is quarterback depth. While Daunte Culpepper, Andrew Walter and Josh McCown can hardly be considered strong starting candidates at this point, they could all see great success against second-, third- and fourth-string defenses. McCown will get the start but all three will get equal action with Walter coming in second and Culpepper finishing up.

Seattle (+3.5) at San Diego
Sunday – 8:00 pm EST

No active NFL coach right now has more preseason games under his belt than Seattle top man Mike Holmgren. The results have pretty much been a mixed bag. The Seahawks have gone 2-2 ATS in each of the last four preseasons and Holmgren is 33-30 SU and 30-32-1 ATS for his career. Solid quarterback depth could push Seattle over that .500 mark this year, though. Starter Matt Hasselbeck won’t play much but he’s healthy after an injury-riddled 2006 season. Backup Seneca Wallace has been in the system for five years now and third-stringer David Greene is fresh off a strong performance in the intrasquad scrimmage.

The Chargers and Seahawks have become very familiar with each other over the last four preseasons, playing three times. San Diego won last year’s meeting 31-20 behind its incredibly deep, top-to-bottom roster. The Chargers fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter but outscored Seattle 31-6 the rest of the day, which is a true testament to one of the deepest rosters in the NFL. Norv Turner stated his starters will get about one quarter of action in the opener, apart from LaDainian Tomlinson, who rarely plays in the preseason.

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2007 NFL Preseason Notes


Washington Redskins - QB Rotation: Jason Campbell (1st Q), Mark Brunell (2nd Q), Todd Collins (3rd Q), rookie Jordan Palmer (see below).

The first-team offense is expected to play two or three series. Jason Campbell will start at quarterback.

Assistant coach Joe Bugel expects the starters to play more than usual given Washington's 0-4 preseason record in 2006.

RBs thin: RB Clinton Portis missed 2 days of practice with knee tendinitis. RB LaDell Betts (neck) and Derrick Blaylock (ankle) are hurting, so they signed RB Dee Brown this week.

WRs thin.

Backup Mark Brunell is coming off shoulder surgery, and the Redskins want him to get plenty of work to make sure he has recovered. That doesn't leave a lot of throws for the other QBs. Joe Gibbs hinted that the team could be down to 4 QBs before playing Tennessee 8/11.

Undrafted rookie Stephon Heyer will start at left tackle, leaving him in the difficult position of protecting QB Jason Campbell's blind side. Heyer, whose college career at Maryland was derailed by a serious knee injury, has impressed the staff with starting tackle Chris Samuels out for most of the preseason with a knee injury. Samuels hopes to be back in 3-4 weeks. G Randy Thomas (offseason knee surgery) has yet to practice.

WR Santana Moss's workload has been curtailed because of a groin problem.

Tennessee Titans - QB Rotation: Vince Young (1st Q), Kerry Collins, Tim Rattay (see below).

The first-team offense is expected to play at least a quarter. Kerry Collins and Tim Rattay will split the snaps after quarterback Vince Young leaves the game.

Coach Jeff Fisher said playing time for the preseason opener Saturday has not been sorted out. "I would say this: we are going to play people a little longer than you would expect, because we need to," Fisher said.

Defensive line thin: Titans rookie defensive tackle Antonio Johnson is out for the season with an ACL injury. The Titans are thin on the defensive line with tackles Albert Haynesworth (back), Jesse Mahelona (hamstrings) out along with end Travis LaBoy (hamstrings).

There's a battle in the backfield with LenDale White, Chris Brown serving as the third-down back and rookie Chris Henry. RB LenDale White still looks heavy, but he's in a lot better shape than he was a month ago.

Green Bay Packers - QB Rotation: Brett Favre (12-15 snaps), Aaron Rodgers (2nd-3rd Qs), Ingle Martin (4th Q), rookie Paul Thompson.

HC Mike McCarthy said the No. 1 offense would play about 12 to 15 snaps Saturday. Third-string QB Ingle Martin will play the entire fourth quarter. Paul Thompson won't play.

QB Brett Favre (ankle) missed Tuesday morning practice with tightness in his right ankle.

RBs thin. Vernand Morency (knee) will miss the first two preseason games and RB P.J. Pope hurt his knee. Rookie RB DeShawn Wynn (thigh) looks doubtful after sitting out both practices. Rookie RB Brandon Jackson will start and play through the first half and Noah Herron will probably get a lot of early time, especially on passing downs.

Cornerback Charles Woodson dropped out of Thursday's practice with what appeared to be a left hamstring injury.

Defensive tackle Justin Harrell is off to a sluggish start. The 16th pick in the 2007 draft is trying to play himself into shape after not having played football since mid-September because of a torn biceps.

Pittsburgh Steelers - QB Rotation: Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Brian St. Pierre, Bryan Randall.

QB Brian St. Pierre did not practice Tuesday because of swelling in his right thumb. St. Pierre injured his throwing hand against the Saints.

RB Willie Parker's injured left knee will keep him out a more extended time than first believed, and offensive guard Alan Faneca may be on the same timetable with a shoulder injury.

Tomlin said Parker and offensive left guard Alan Faneca (shoulder) are the only starters who will not play against the Packers in the preseason home opener at Heinz Field.

Second game for the Steelers, after opening in the Hall of Fame Game (8/5).

HC Mike Tomlin, the former defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, was hired by the Steelers. He is just their third coach in 38 years.

The Steelers plan to zone block more often this season.

It might not happen against the Packers, but the Steelers will break out their no-huddle offense soon in a preseason game. The Steelers also used it last season in the preseason against the Vikings.

Jacksonville Jaguars - QB Rotation: Byron Leftwich (15-20 plays), David Garrard (15-20 plays), Quinn Gray, Tim Couch (3rd Q), Lester Ricard (see below).

Jack Del Rio said QBs Byron Leftwich and David Garrard will be in 15-to-20 plays Saturday. Gray wore a boot in Friday practice, so rookie Lester Ricard and Tim Couch could see extensive action in the second half.

QBs Tim Couch and rookie Lester Ricard continue to fight for the third-string job. Both Couch and Ricard have struggled in camp.

WR Reggie Williams is listed as the third-team receiver behind Dennis Northcutt and Charles Sharon for Saturday's game.

Jacksonville has a new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter, the former Boise State and Arizona State pass-happy coach.

Jaguars center Brad Meester broke a bone in his right foot and will be sidelined at least eight weeks. Meester has started 108 games for Jacksonville in seven years.

Miami Dolphins - QB Rotation: Trent Green (first half), Cleo Lemon, rookie John Beck, Gibran Hamdan.

Cam Cameron plans to use most of his offensive starters throughout the first half. The move is a stark departure from past Miami coaches and most NFL teams that generally bench their starters after a couple of series in preseason openers.

Cameron's goal seems to be giving as much work as possible to an offense that is under reconstruction and needs repetitions together in a game setting.

QB Trent Green will start and is scheduled to play the first half. Cleo Lemon is expected to enter the game in the second half, and rookie John Beck will take his turn in the fourth quarter.

Running back Ronnie Brown is expected to start and see up to a half of work. Brown will be running behind a starting offensive line that also is expected to play at least through the first half. Jesse Chatman is expected to relieve Brown in the third quarter.

Rookie first-round pick Ted Ginn will be a starter in his professional debut. Ginn is scheduled to start at one receiver spot opposite Chris Chambers, but only because veteran Marty Booker will not play.

Cam Cameron is the Dolphins new head coach, after being offensive coordinator of the Chargers in 2006.

Dolphins outside linebacker Joey Porter underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. He should miss all the preseason.

K.C. Chiefs - QB Rotation: Brodie Croyle (1st Q), Damon Huard (2nd Q), Casey Printers, rookie Jeff Terrell (see below).

HC Herm Edwards said Brodie Croyle would be the No. 1 quarterback Saturday against the Browns.

"Brodie's going to get more snaps in the preseason," Edwards said. "Because he's a young quarterback, and Damon's a veteran. He doesn't need as many snaps." Edwards held out the possibility that even rookie Jeff Terrell, the fourth-string quarterback, would play at least a few snaps against the Browns. Damon Huard will start Aug. 16 against Miami.

Running back Larry Johnson is holding out and not in camp.

Word is that the Chiefs are very pleased with QB Brodie Croyle.

Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said this weekend's preseason game at Cleveland isn't affecting how he and his coaches run practice. "No, we're preparing for the opener (against Houston)," Edwards said. "The first preseason game is generally vanilla. The young guys will play a lot. We might (game) plan a little toward the end of the preseason."

Cleveland Browns - QB Rotation: Charlie Frye (1st Q), Derek Anderson (2nd Q+), Ken Dorsey (3rd Q+), rookie Brady Quinn (see below).

Frye probably will get the starting call against Kansas City. Anderson probably will finish the first half. Ken Dorsey will play the most (the bulk of the second half). Quinn will only take a few snaps Saturday against the Chiefs.

Frye listed first at quarterback on the Browns depth chart ahead of Anderson. Romeo Crennel and his staff yearn for one of the quarterbacks to separate from the other and make the starting decision easier, but it hasn't happened.

Rob Chudzinski is the Browns new offensive coordinator.

Starting left guard Eric Steinbach, the Browns' blockbuster signing of the off-season, fell on his right knee in practice Tuesday and could miss up to two weeks. The line has been in flux with right tackle Ryan Tucker getting suspended the first four games of the season because of steroid use. That bumped rookie Joe Thomas up to the starting job at left tackle and moved Kevin Shaffer from left to right. Backup guard/center Lennie Friedman worked in Steinbach's place Tuesday and most likely will start Saturday if Steinbach can't go.

With CB Kenny Wright slowed by a strained groin, rookie corner Eric Wright is listed as the starter on the depth chart for Saturday's game. Wright made only 10 starts at Southern Cal and UNLV.

Browns DE Orpheus Roye, a 12-year pro, will undergo arthroscopic on his right knee and be lost for the rest of the preseason. It's a blow to their 3-4 defense. While Roye is out, four players will try out in his place: backup NT Shaun Smith, J'Vonne Parker, Simon Fraser and Orien Harris.

Carolina Panthers - QB Rotation: Jake Delhomme, David Carr, Brett Basanez.

The Panthers are using zone-blocking schemes this season, a dramatic change for a system that's been built around a power-running style.

They have a new offensive coordinator in Jeff Davidson, who is revamping the Carolina offense from a year ago, when it was run by Dan Henning.

Rookie WR Dwayne Jarrett sat out Wednesday with a hamstring injury.

NY Giants - QB Rotation: Eli Manning (1-2 series), Jared Lorenzen (will follow), Anthony Wright, Tim Hasselbeck (see below).

Tom Coughlin said QB Eli Manning, who was limited in practice, will play one or two series. It's likely that's all the first-team offense will get. QB Jared Lorenzen and Anthony Wright will follow Manning in that order. Tim Hasselbeck likely won't see any action but would play before Wright against the Ravens.

WRs Plaxico Burress (ankle) and Amani Toomer (ankle), CBs Aaron Ross (hamstring), E.J. Underwood (hip) and Travonti Johnson (unknown), S Michael Stone (hip), and DT Fred Robbins (calf) did not practice. Coach Tom Coughlin said all of these players probably won't play against the Panthers.

WRs thin. WRs Plaxico Burress (ankle) is out, Amani Toomer (knee) won't play and TE Jeremy Shockey has a sore leg.

DT Fred Robbins (calf strain) might be held out. DE Justin Tuck (foot) will play a limited number of snaps.

HC Tom Coughlin brought in Chris Palmer as QB coach and moved Kevin Gilbride over to offensive coordinator.

Mathias Kiwanuka has struggled at his new strong side linebacker position. Kiwanuka will get more time to play. "He probably will get a few more reps than the normal rotation for the first time around," Coughlin said. "He needs the work and he needs to be in more situations."

Chicago Bears
- QB Rotation: Rex Grossman (1st Q), Brian Griese (2nd Q), Kyle Orton (3rd Q), rookie Chris Leak.

Lovie Smith said starters will play the customary one quarter Saturday. LB Brian Urlacher was rested again Thursday and DT Tommie Harris did only light work; neither is expected to play much against the Texans.

The Bears need a veteran backup, but QB Brian Griese didn't play well last season and hasn't looked like a veteran in practice.

RB Adrian Peterson got more time with the first team Sunday as Cedric Benson was held out of any drills that could have involved contact. Benson had his left shoulder wrapped Saturday but is not seriously injured.

Left defensive end Adewale Ogunleye reported to camp a sleeker model, having redistributed the 260 pounds on his 6-4 frame.

Houston Texans - QB Rotation: Matt Schaub (1st Q), Sage Rosenfels (2nd-3rd Qs), Bradlee Van Pelt (4th Q), rookie Jared Zabransky.

Matt Schaub will start and play a quarter. Sage Rosenfels will come off the bench. Bradlee Van Pelt will finish. Jared Zabransky won't play.

"Our ones (starters) are going to play close to a quarter, depending on how many snaps they get," coach Gary Kubiak said. "Our 2s are going to play in the second quarter and halfway through the third. Then our 3s will come in, and our 4s will finish."

30-year old RB Ahman Green won't play much. The bulk of the carries likely will be split between Wali Lundy and Samkon Gado, who are battling for the No. 3 job.

WRs thin. Andre Johnson is nursing a bruised knee after getting hit this week, and Keenan McCardell strained his quadriceps.

Coach Gary Kubiak said. "We'll find out how ready we are against the Bears. Preseason's a time for your team to come together. It's a time to find some young players. The biggest two we're looking for from this team is composure and being more physical. That's where we're going to start.

New offensive coordinator Mike Sherman is putting in a plan for more balance to the offense this fall.

Arizona Cardinals - QB Rotation: Matt Leinart, Kurt Warner.

There will be a minimal amount of game planning. Coach Ken Whisenhunt would like to win, but not at the expense of evaluating players.

Ken Whisenhunt, the 2006 Steelers offensive coordinator, is the new Cardinals head coach. Whisenhunt is going to call plays.

The new coach wants the Cardinals to be more of a run-oriented team, like the Steelers. If the Cardinals are able to run, opponents will have to move a safety closer to the line of scrimmage. That should free WRs Boldin or Fitzgerald in single coverage.

Can the Cardinals offensive line open holes for Edgerrin James and protect Matt Leinart? The biggest questions are at tackle, with Mike Gandy on the left side and Oliver Ross on the right. Rookie Levi Brown, the fifth overall pick in the draft, will play right tackle with the second unit.

Oakland Raiders - QB Rotation: Josh McCown, Andrew Walter, Daunte Culpepper, Jeff Otis, JaMarcus Russell (see below).

Josh McCown was named the starting quarterback, giving him first crack against his former team. McCown will be followed, in order, by Andrew Walter and Daunte Culpepper, with training-camp arm Jeff Otis prepared for late-game duty if necessary. McCown, Walter and Culpepper will get an equal number of snaps.

"No one of the three has emerged as the clear-cut guy by any means," Kiffin said. "We don't need to have a starter right now. We're going to let them play and do the best that we can." Kiffin seemed to rule out Culpepper by saying he'd have a "limited package." Culpepper joined the team last week and is still learning the playbook and terminology.

Former USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, 31, is the Raiders new head coach.

No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell (contract) is sitting out. Kiffin said QB Culpepper will be worked in slowly while he learns the new playbook, and that he eventually will get equal snaps with Walter and McCown.

The Raider quarterbacks threw 14 interceptions over four days, often in 7-on-7 drills where there is no pass rush, prompting coach Lane Kiffin to criticize their decision making and chuck-it-up habits.

Pro Bowl DE Derrick Burgess (hernia surgery) is back in practice, but will not play Saturday. RB LaMont Jordan (back) and defensive tackle Josh Shaw (knee) also will not play.

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Re: Saturday NFL PreSeason News and Notes

Saturday’s NFL starter report

Seven games on the NFL preseason slate for tonight – here’s a look at key starters and how long they’ll stay in the game.

Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers, 7:30 p.m. ET

Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy told the Green Bay Press-Gazette that he expects starters to play only 10-15 snaps on Saturday, though he noted that quarterback Brett Favre could see even fewer. McCarthy wants to give Aaron Rodgers snaps with the starters, according to the paper.

Rookies Brandon Jackson and Corey White are the best (only?) options to carry the ball tonight because of the health problems plaguing the Packers’ backfield.

Pittsburgh wants to see what first-round pick Lawrence Timmons can do at the outside linebacker spot, but the Steelers may have to wait, as a nagging groin injury keeps Timmons off the field.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will play after suffering a midweek injury scare, but no more than 15 snaps according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Steelers’ running game will also be slowed with both Willie Parker and guard Alan Faneca sitting out.

The Steelers aerial attack, however, could be boosted by the absence of Green Bay cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins, 7:30 p.m. ET

The quarterback position has been a contentious issue for both Florida-based teams in recent years and tonight’s preseason clash underlines the potential messiness in both camps.

The Miami Herald reports that Trent Green is slated to play the entire first half for Miami, with Cleo Lemon seeing some time after that and rookie John Beck making his debut in a Dolphins uniform, most likely in the fourth quarter.

Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio announced that his starters would be limited to play in the first half in the Jaguars’ preseason opener, but made other comments regarding his quarterbacks that leave Saturday night up in the air.

David Garrard is likely to see more snaps than Byron Leftwich, Del Rio said, but the Jags are also anxious to see what their other QBs in camp (Tim Couch, Quinn Gray and Lester Ricard) can do.

Don’t expect the other Miami starters to see much time at all tonight. Coach Cam Cameron has stressed all week about exhibition games as a learning forum for young players, going so far as to suggest to the Palm Beach Post that he wants his team to make mistakes.

"Zach (Thomas) will play like a play-and-a-half," linebacker Channing Crowder joked to the Post, but bettors heavy on the Dolphins might not see the humor.

Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns, 7:30 p.m. ET

Much ado has been made of Romeo Crennel’s comment about flipping a coin to decide Saturday’s starter, but bettors shouldn’t pull their hair out over the matter. Cleveland-area newspaper the Tribune-Chronicle reports that Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson will likely play a half between them, no matter who starts, before giving way to Browns youngsters at QB.

The first half will likely be a running affair for Cleveland in any case, as the team is more interested to see if Jamal Lewis’ impressive camp so far translates well against actual opposition. Rookie Joe Thomas also starts at left tackle.

The Chiefs will also lean heavily on younger players and none will have a bigger impact on the game than former ‘Bama star Brodie Croyle, who’ll take more snaps than any other K.C. quarterback tonight. Chiefs coaches have been pleased with Croyle so far and hope he can continue his solid play.

The Kansas City Star, however, reports that Croyle’s targets tonight may lack star power. Rookie Dwayne Bowe won’t play and this evening’s road game is viewed as an audition for fringe receivers to step up.

A quick note – just because Priest Holmes is in camp doesn’t mean he’ll carry the ball in superstar Larry Johnson’s continuing absence. Expect Michael Bennett and rookie Kolby Smith to rack up the Chiefs’ rushing yards in Cleveland.

Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans, 8:00 p.m. ET

The starters might see more time in Tennessee tonight than in the other exhibition game venues. Both teams struggled in the 2006 preseason before starting the regular season with identical 0-5 marks, something both franchises want to avoid repeating.

Quarterback Jason Campbell will have a solid opportunity to show off his progress (or lack thereof) in Washington’s offense, but he won’t have much help in the way of a running game with both Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts out of tonight’s action.

Most other Redskins starters won’t see the second quarter tonight.

"We'll ask (Campbell) to do a little more than we normally would do with a quarterback that's been in the same system for a long time," Al Saunders admitted to the Washington Times.

Vince Young, the 2006 Offensive Rookie of the Year, will start for Tennessee, but the more interesting Titans angle will be seeing which running back makes the most of his limited carries in the battle to be the man in Nashville. Chris Brown, LenDale White and rookie Chris Henry will all get early touches before giving way to the lesser lights.

Carolina Panthers at New York Giants, 8:00 p.m. ET

Keeping with the normal pattern for early preseason games, neither the Giants nor Panthers are expected to give their starters an extended look tonight. One possible exception is New York’s defensive end-turned-outside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, a player the Giants are following closely as he adjusts to a new position.

New York will give Eli Manning an early rest and with neither Plaxico Burress nor Amani Toomer suiting up tonight, the Giants passing game can essentially be viewed as an open audition for the fringe talent.

Two key positions for the Giants, of course, are running back and defensive end, where veterans Tiki Barber and Michael Strahan can no longer be found. That means running back Brandon Jacobs might stay in a couple more series than Manning, but likely not much longer.

Carolina will also let starting quarterback Jake Delhomme sit after a couple of series, but the Panthers could then give an extended look to former Houston starter David Carr at backup. Also on offense, the Charlotte Observer suggests that running back Eric Shelton and receiver Keary Colbert could play larger roles tonight than most others at their respective positions.

Chicago Bears at Houston Texans, 8:00 p.m. ET

All eyes are on the starting quarterbacks for both squads, but that doesn’t mean we’ll see much of either Chicago’s Rex Grossman or Houston’s Matt Schaub tonight. Grossman likely won’t play past the first quarter and the Houston Chronicle suggests Schaub is on a 15-snap limit.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Brian Urlacher is unlikely to play tonight after missing a handful of practices this week and that defensive tackle Tommie Harris could join him on the sideline.

The paper suggests that Devin Hester will get a crack at one kick return on Saturday, but no more. Hester will see a few offensive snaps, however, alongside college stars Greg Olsen at tight end and Garrett Wolfe at running back. Fourth-string quarterback Chris Leak will likely see time late in the game as well.

The Texans have a lot of new players in the skill positions, but established veterans like running back Ahman Green and receiver Keenan McCardell shouldn’t be counted on for more than a quarter’s worth of play either.

Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders, 10:00 p.m. ET

The Raiders have a lot of questions at a lot of positions, but the quarterback spot is getting the lion’s share of attention so we’ll start there.

Josh McCown will start for the Raiders, followed by Andrew Walter, according to the Contra Costa Times. Then we’ll get an extended look at new Oakland citizen Daunte Culpepper. First overall pick JaMarcus Russell, of course, remains unsigned.

Whoever’s lining up behind center will pray to the football gods that the Oakland O-line has improved after allowing 72 sacks last year. There’s a new blocking scheme in place, so expect to see the lineman play a little longer than most starters, though that’s not necessarily a good thing for Oakland backers.

Matt Leinart starts for the Cardinals but won’t play for too long. He’s looking forward to seeing former USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin as Oakland’s head coach tomorrow and the way Leinart’s talked this week, tonight's meeting seems like more of a social event than a football game.

The Arizona coaching staff is also littered with new faces and to a man they’ve talked excitedly about the competition for defensive spots. Bettors can translate that as “We’ll be playing a lot of rookies and guys we picked up from the scrap heap.”

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