The second wave of the first week of NFL preseason games crashed against the shore Friday night, and a lot of the league's best and brightest teams took the field for the first time in 2012. A lot of the team's dullest and, er, least-best teams of 2011 also played their first competitive snaps on a clean slate.
Which players took a big step forward? Which players don't look any different at all? How have teams' offenses and defenses changed with new players, or new coordinators? Which teams look like they're ready to take the next step, and which teams look like they're rocking back on their heels?
We can't find any of these answers in training camp. No practice, no drill, no scrimmage can possibly replicate the intensity of "live bullets": when the bright lights go on and the cameras roll and guys wearing different-colored jerseys take the field.
Preseason isn't the real deal, no—but it's a new level of competition, a welcome change from red jerseys and no-contact rules and the first time some of these players have played a professional down in anger.
Can we take away any real, lasting lessons from Friday's slate of games? Yes! Here are 25 of them.