2012 NFL Preseason: 5 Observations from Thursday's Nights Action
With 11 teams playing in their first preseason games tonight, there is obviously plenty of time for players to adjust to new systems and to get back into game shape.
However, the opportunity to watch players find success early on in the preseason could lead to future success in the upcoming season.
Here are five observations from the early portion of preseason action.
5. The New Referees Are Going to Be a Problem
Rob Carr/Getty Images
The NFL replacement referees have not exactly received the warmest welcome, and tonight's major miscues won't help their cause.
First, they ruled a touchback in the Bills-Redskins game where the player downed the ball at the four-yard line. Unfortunately, the Redskins had no choice but to use one of their available challenges.
They also called an unsportsmanlike penalty on rookie Nick Perry who simply flexed after recording a sack.
The biggest question of the preseason is if the NFL will be able to agree on a deal that will ultimately allow the return of the normal NFL referees.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers' Young Offensive Line Has a Long Way to Go
Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE
The Pittsburgh Steelers are among many contending teams that are adjusting to a lot of change on the coaching staff and the current roster.
In 2012, the Achilles heel will clearly be the offensive line for the Steelers, who are expected to start two rookies this season.
The young offensive line faced a major test early on against a Philadelphia Eagles defense that has put plenty of pressure on the quarterbacks in the past.
Ben Roethlisberger faced a ton of pressure early in the game, as David DeCastro and Mike Adams started for the first time on an NFL field. Adams also left the game with a minor injury.
As teams continue to prepare for the upcoming season, the Steelers' offensive line must continue to focus on building chemistry before the regular season.
3. Robert Griffin III Took Control of the Redskins' Offense
Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE
Robert Griffin III made his debut tonight against the Buffalo Bills and had a solid first outing.
Facing an improved Bills defense, Griffin completed 4-of-6 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. Clearly, he was comfortable throwing to former Colts receiver Pierre Garcon.
Garcon recorded three receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. The Redskins must be pleased with the good start by Griffin early on in the season.
2. Chandler Jones Already Make an Impact on the Patriots' Defense
Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE
When Chandler Jones was selected by the New England Patriots in the first round this year, the former Syracuse standout was expected to be a project defensive end who wouldn't be a huge surprise in his first NFL season.
The Patriots defense needs to improve as a whole, but Jones could be a pleasant surprise by providing pressure on opposing quarterbacks on a weekly basis.
1. Julio Jones Was Unstoppable Against the Ravens' Secondary
Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE
Julio Jones is poised for a breakout season with an Atlanta Falcons offense that is going to be up-tempo with the passing game.
He faced a test early against a Ravens secondary that featured Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams.
It was evident that Jones wasn't fazed at all. He recorded six receptions for 109 yards and one touchdown against the Ravens, who couldn't stop the former first-round pick.
New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is already orchestrating an explosive offense in the works with the Falcons.
Matt Miselis is an NFL Featured Columnist for BleacherReport.com. Follow him on Twitter.