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The concerns for this weekend -- teammates who don't know each other, new playbooks, lack of prep time -- are similar to what everyone faces at the Pro Bowl.
Since there's less pretense about that game being played at half-speed, the league mandated things such as defenses remaining in basic formations and not being allowed to blitz; offenses aren't allowed to go in motion or shift, and quarterbacks have an extra layer of protection from sacks by being allowed to throw a ball away.
That might be a bit extreme for this weekend. But only a little.
"Teams like Pittsburgh, New England, Indianapolis and Green Bay have their systems in place, their quarterbacks in place, a lot of veterans returning, so I don't think they will treat the preseason any different than they have been," said NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci, the former coach of the 49ers and Lions.
"But there are 20-something new coordinators teaching from square one. Even their returning starters are learning a new playbooks. They have to play their starters longer, even at the risk of players getting injured. Otherwise, you could have a product on opening weekend that's going to be insufficient. I don't think teams want to look sloppy and flat in September."
Mariucci also warned that some of those new coordinators may not follow the usual preseason script, agreed upon or not.
"I think you'll always find some of these young, aspiring defensive coordinators bringing the kitchen sink in preseason games to get their teams confident, to say `Yeah, this is what I want to do,'" he said. "Congratulations. You're going to get to the quarterback, but that's a false positive. You're fooling them, not beating them. What you need to be doing is the basics. You install your system from the foundation-up."
Herm Edwards expects to see all sorts of zany things this weekend because preseason openers are always a circus.
It starts with rookies and new coaches not knowing where to stand on the sideline and never stops, with a constant concern over having too many or too few players in the huddle.
When he coached the Jets and Chiefs, Edwards took aspirin before kickoff to ward off the headache he knew was coming, something he didn't do during the regular season or even the playoffs. And that was with a full offseason, unlimited two-a-days and mapping out the structure of the game with his coaching counterpart.
"The preseason is all about evaluating the young players," Edwards said. "You want them to play. You want to teach them. You've got to put them in position to learn. If I'm coaching, I'm calling whoever we're playing and making sure the coordinators talk. You don't want to embarrass anyone. It's about evaluating."
Edwards can talk openly about those phone calls because he's now an ESPN analyst. He doesn't have to worry about being reprimanded by the league.
"No, they don't like it, but what they don't know doesn't hurt them," he said, laughing. "You want to present a game that's respectable, that's competitive, even in the preseason. ... Most fans get it. They know it's the preseason and you're going to watch young players play."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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