It's been a long time comin'... Preseason Game #1...
Seems that way every year. The anticipation and expectation of the harvest of your top prospects abound. Then about halfway through the 2nd quarter you realize it's not so much about your 1's, but more about eliminating your dubious 2's and 3's...
It's just the way it is in the modern NFL.
I saw it last night while I covered the Ravens vs. Tampa Bay Bucs exhibition game...
Remember Peyton Hillis?
Hillis is best known for his 2010 season with the Cleveland Browns, when he rushed for more than 1,100 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. It made him something of a folk hero in Ohio, and he even landed on the cover of "Madden NFL 12."
It's been downhill for Hillis since, however, and the events of Thursday night don't count as a promising sign.
The Bucs signed Hillis to beef up a soft depth chart behind starting running back Doug Martin. If healthy, Hillis had the skill set to serve as a nice complement to Martin in a halfback or fullback role.
Hillis was hoping for a fresh start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Hillis suffered a left knee injury during the third quarter of the Bucs' preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night. It was his first offensive play and touch of the ball. He limped off the field and didn't return in the Ravens' 44-16 win.
It was sickening for me to observe. But then I realized: what is Hillis, 30 years old? Heck, he's had his pro-rated time in the NFL. A great football talent, but Father Time intervened...and said, "That's all, folks..."
This is the mindset I go into Friday night's game between the Pats and the Eagles with...
Careers begin but they also end with PS game #1...
It's a total crap-shoot when you're dealing with rookies and free agents trying to impress on the 2's and 3's...
I now watch these first preseason games with total trepidation...but also with total respect for the 2's and 3's who are hell-on-wheels-bent trying to make the 53-man roster.
Guys go out of their comfort zone. Guys try to do too much. Guys try to impress on tape. Guys try to come to the game, instead of allowing the game to come to them...
We as Iggles phans may be setting ourselves up for that same kind of "over-extension" as we get ready to evaluate the Chip Kelly debut of the Birds vs. the Patriots this Friday night...
Good stuff is going to happen for the Eagles...but also bad plays and other weaknesses will be revealed. Are you ready for the degree of difficulty?
Just concentrating on the 1's for now, I am buckling my seat belt in the armchair...
This could be ugly on Friday night vs. the Pats... But it will serve as the ultimate teaching moment for the 2013 team, one way or the other...
The main thing is, you have got to see the building of a winning team as a 5 or 6-year development (assuming the head coach is allowed to stay on that long)...
Personally, I want to catch lightning in a bottle and win NOW... but it rarely happens that way in an NFL organization.
So my real expectations for the 1's on Friday night are tempered by the wisdom of a great coach (Vince Lombardi) who once said--- "Show me good technique and the heart to get better, and we'll go from there..."
I mean, that's it in nutshell. If you're not getting better every week, every game, then the converse equation in football is you are getting worse. No team stays the same.
So here we are. And we are here.
Kelly expects Mike Vick and Nick Foles, who were listed as Co-QB #1's on the unofficial depth chart, to split the first quarter. Their playing time — along with the rest of the starters' — could spill into the second quarter.
Vick will get 12-20 snaps before Foles takes over.
I'm okay with that.
Rookie QB Matt Barkley is expected to play the second and third quarters on Friday night. Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne will handle the fourth.
That's the way it should be in PS Game #1, although it's hard to imagine Dixon or Kinne getting much of a fair shot at impressing, being they will be deeply imbedded in garbage time.
Starting the first preseason game at QB doesn't correlate directly with starting the first regular season game.
"[Starting] this game doesn't mean anything," Vick said.
Foles will have the disadvantage of having to wait his turn. It's just the way everything unfolded throughout training camp. Vick received the call for the first preseason game.
"I don't read into it," Foles said. "It's as simple as that."
Other lineup notes for the preseason opener:
• Lane Johnson will remain at right tackle, rather than move to the left as he's done some during training camp with Jason Peters sidelined. Peters (hamstring) will not play Friday. Allen Barbre gets the nod at left tackle with Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans on the interior.
• The secondary will begin with cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin and safeties Patrick Chung and Nate Allen. Cornerback Cary Williams (hamstring) is not expected to play.
• There is a possibility that wide receivers Russell Shepard and Damaris Johnson play Friday despite sitting out Thursday's practice. If they are unable to go, the Eagles would have just seven wideouts. That means Ifeanyi Momah, Greg Salas, Nick Miller and Will Murphy should get long looks.
Injury Update: Running back Felix Jones (hamstring), offensive linemen Jason Peters (hamstring), Ed Wang (knee) and Dennis Kelly (back), wide receivers Russell Shepard (hamstring), Damaris Johnson (hamstring), defensive lineman Antonio Dixon (hamstring), cornerback Cary Williams (hamstring).