It’s time to get back to football!
“It definitely feels like game week to us,” says Seattle head coach PETE CARROLL, whose team will face the Denver Broncos this week in a Super Bowl XLVIII rematch. “It’s coming quick, Thursday night. It’s going to be fun.”
All 32 NFL clubs will be in action this week.
The preseason kicked off on Sunday with the NFL/Hall of Fame Game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants. The other 30 NFL teams will make their season debuts this week.
“This is about us getting better and evaluating against other guys,” says MIKE ZIMMER, who will make his debut as Minnesota Vikings head coach on Friday night against the Oakland Raiders. “I want us to go out and play solid fundamental football.”
Four games will be featured on national TV this week, starting with the San Francisco 49ers visiting the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night (August 7, 7:30 PM ET, NFL Network) and concluding with the Detroit Lions hosting the Cleveland Browns on Saturday (August 9, 7:30 PM ET, NFL Network).
NFL Preseason Nationally Televised Games:
Thursday, August 7
San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens – 7:30 PM NFLN
Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers – 10:30 PM NFLN
Friday, August 8
New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams – 8:00 PM NFLN
Saturday, August 9
Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions – 7:30 PM NFLN
Some of the highlight games in Week 1 of the NFL preseason:
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS at BALTIMORE RAVENS (Thursday, NFLN, 7:30 PM ET)
NFL Network’s schedule of live preseason broadcasts begins with head coach JOHN HARBAUGH and the Baltimore Ravens hosting head coach JIM HARBAUGH and the San Francisco 49ers in the teams’ first meeting since Super Bowl XLVII. The game marks the third meeting between the Harbaugh brothers.
After the clubs face one another on Thursday night, the 49ers will extend their stay in Baltimore to practice together with the Ravens for three days.
“We were trying to figure out how we’d set it up, and we decided to practice together after the first game,” says John Harbaugh. “We felt like the first two weeks we needed to do our install process and it would be better after the game. Nobody has really done one after the game that I’m aware of, so this will be the first time. It’s going to be fantastic. We just can’t wait to do it.”
The 49ers, who have advanced to the NFC Championship Game in each of the past three seasons, begin 2014 with high expectations.
“We know we have the the talent to win a Super Bowl,” says tackle JOE STALEY, who signed a contract extension through 2019 with San Francisco in the offseason. “There’s a lot of urgency to get it done. We’ve identified things we can be better at. We have to take advantage of all the opportunities we get.”
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS at ST. LOUIS RAMS (Friday, NFLN, 8:00 PM ET)
The Saints and Rams will meet on Friday night at the Edward Jones Dome, and both teams enter with high hopes for 2014.
The Saints, who have advanced to the playoffs in four of the past five seasons, are looking to build on last year’s 11-5 finish.
“I think the expectations for us as a team are higher,” says New Orleans head coach SEAN PAYTON. “This is another team. There are a handful of new faces that weren’t here a year ago. Our goals are set high.”
The Rams have built a deep roster of young talent on both offense and defense, led by defensive end ROBERT QUINN, who topped the NFC with 19 sacks in 2013, and quarterback SAM BRADFORD, who is entering his fifth season as the team’s starter.
“It’s all about expectations now,” says St. Louis head coach JEFF FISHER. “Yes, we have youth, but now there’s skill at every position. There’s experience there, too.”
CLEVELAND BROWNS at DETROIT LIONS (Saturday, NFLN, 7:30 PM ET)
The first full week of preseason action concludes on Saturday night when the Lions host the Browns at Ford Field, as rookie quarterback JOHNNY MANZIEL (No. 22 overall) makes his preseason debut for Cleveland.
The Browns have split repetitions with the first-team offense between Manziel and veteran BRIAN HOYER, and will be looking to see how both are progressing in the Browns’ new system.
“It’s just part of our plan,” says Browns first-year head coach MIKE PETTINE of both quarterbacks working with the first team. “We said we were going to allow the quarterbacks to compete. At some point, you’ve got to mix up the supporting cast a little bit.”
Detroit will feature a new offensive system implemented by incoming offensive coordinator JOE LOMBARDI and head coach JIM CALDWELL. Led by quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD, the Lions ranked third in the NFL in passing yards in 2013. The team will rely heavily on Stafford to help the offense transition successfully.
“You can tell he has worked at it even during the summer,” says Caldwell of Stafford. “In every facet, I can see improvement. Footwork, accuracy, timing, command of the offense, all of those things. So now we get a chance to see if he can put it all together, keep progressing and then get some real challenges from our opposition as we start preseason.”