The 2012 NFL Preseason officially kicked off on Sunday, August 5, with the Arizona Cardinals squaring off against the New Orleans Saints at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH. The Saints took home a win in the exhibition, defeating the Cardinals 17-10.
This was the first game that New Orleans has played without head coach Sean Payton, who was suspended earlier in the year by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell following last season’s “Bountygate” fiasco. Scandal aside, the Saints starting QB Drew Brees performed as expected, taking his team down the field to score in the first ten plays following several missed tackles by the Cardinals defense. Brees made his only appearance during the first quarter, but managed to complete 4 out of 5 passes and rack up 41 yards.
Starting QB for the Cardinals, Kevin Kolb, struggled to perform in the preseason opener. Kolb’s first pass attempt was intercepted by Malcolm Jenkins. He went 1 for 4, for four yards, before being hit by the Saints defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, adding a rib contusion to a long line of injuries. Kolb was replaced in the game by backup QB John Skelton, who hopes to capitalize on Kolb’s absence to land the top spot for the 2012 season.
Following this year’s Hall of Fame Game, there are four weeks of preseason games scheduled, allowing both fans and players to ready themselves for the upcoming regular season. For many players, particularly this year’s draft picks and offseason trades, the exhibitions are the first opportunity to scrimmage with their new teams. Trades happen in every offseason, but this year big names like Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow, and Randy Moss are on the list of those making team changes.
Moss sat out the 2011 season, but is back in action after being signed to a one-year contract by the San Francisco 49ers. Manning, the only four-time MVP in NFL history, became a free agent after missing the entire 2011 season, and was snatched up by the Denver Broncos for a $96 million, five-year contract. To make room for the blockbuster trade, the Broncos shifted the crowd-worshipped Tim Tebow to the New York Jets. Only time will tell whether Tebow or the Jets past starter, Mark Sanchez, will get the top spot.
This year’s draft picks are also set to debut in their new uniforms during the preseason games. People to watch include Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts replacement QB since losing Manning, and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, who will lead the Washington Redskins in the coming season. The Redskins travel to Buffalo for their preseason opener on August 9, while the Colts and Luck play their first game together as they host the St. Louis Rams on August 12.
August’s preseason games are shaping up to be an exciting preview of what’s to come later in the year. The 2012 regular season kicks off on Wednesday, September 5, when defending Super Bowl Champs, the New York Giants, host the Dallas Cowboys at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.