NFL Preseason Schedule 2012: Most Intriguing Players to Watch in Week 1
The NFL preseason will kick off with the Hall of Fame game between the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints on August 5, and for football junkies who have been without football since February, this is great news.
The exhibition season doesn't mean much once the regular season begins, but it does provide fans with the opportunity to see what kind of shape players are in as well as how they will fit into their teams' plans this season.
Established veterans won't see much playing time, but that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of players to watch in the preseason.
These are the most intriguing players to watch in their Week 1 matchups.
Robert Griffin III vs. Buffalo Bills
One of the highlights of the beginning of the preseason has to be the debut of the 2012 NFL draft's No. 2 overall pick, Robert Griffin III. The Redskins are all-in on RGIII as the quarterback of the future, and his first preseason game will be the first indicator as to how wise that decision was.
Griffin has all of the physical tools to be successful—his incredible athleticism and arm strength were on full display at Baylor, where he won the Heisman Trophy.
The thing to watch in the preseason will be how he handles himself within the Redskins offense. If Griffin is to be the team's starter from the outset of the regular season, he will need to show good command of the offense and a strong leadership presence.
With an overhauled receiving corps and RGIII's debut, Redskins fans will hardly recognize this year's offense, and creating chemistry will be crucial in these exhibition games.
Doug Martin vs. Miami Dolphins
Trent Richardson was widely considered the best running back in the 2012 draft, but fellow first-round selection Doug Martin is in a position to also make an impact with his new team in his rookie season.
According to Stephen Holder of the Tampa Bay Times, Martin appears to have an inside track on the starting running back spot for the Buccaneers. With new head coach Greg Schiano looking to establish a potent rushing attack in Tampa, Martin could be in line for a huge rookie season.
However, dominating in camp and playing well in game situations are two different things, and the team's first preseason game against the Dolphins will provide a great first test for the former Boise State Bronco.
Tim Tebow vs. Cincinnati Bengals
For better or worse, the media circus that follows Tim Tebow wherever he goes is in full swing.
Tebow was traded to the New York Jets in the offseason after Denver signed Peyton Manning in free agency. After leading the Denver Broncos to a playoff victory as the team's starter in 2011, he comes to the Jets as a backup, but how long will that last?
The Jets plan to use Tebow in a variety of roles, but that's all speculation until we see him on the field. How the Jets use him in the preseason should be intriguing.
Will they keep things vanilla before the regular season? Will Tebow outplay incumbent starter Mark Sanchez?
For now, it seems that Tebow is the backup, but if Tebow outplays Sanchez, there's little doubt that a quarterback controversy could easily be created.
Andrew Luck vs. St. Louis Rams
Andrew Luck was named the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft shortly after the conclusion of the 2011 draft.
Luck's sophomore season at Stanford was enough to make him a top-10 talent, but he elected to go back to Stanford for another year, and he didn't hurt his stock. Colts fans will get their first Luck experience when the team takes on the St. Louis Rams in their preseason opener.
The Rams, ironically enough, had the same record as the Colts last season and will be debuting a few highly anticipated rookies of their own, but Luck will undoubtedly be the main attraction.
Scouts have lauded his intelligence and arm, so it will be interesting to see just how polished he is from the beginning.
The Colts have cast their lot with Luck, and the preseason should be an early indicator of the learning curve that fans can expect to see in their rookie signal-caller.
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