Chapter Four – Shaking Off the Cobwebs

Probably the fourth most anticipated day in football, behind the opening day, Super Bowl, and Draft Day, is the beginning of pre-season football. The only reason people like the opening day is because it’s an indication that the regular season is only a month away. Otherwise, fans really don’t like the preseason because it’s a big tease. How rough is it as a fan to watch a game to see your players and see them taken out after the first quarter? Maybe that’s one of the cool things about coaching a mediocre or bad team is that everyone who plays in a preseason game could be a starter…

But for coaches, preseason is a lot. Especially for me in my position. No position is locked down entirely (well.. Thomas, Edwards, Lewis, Rogers, Steinbach, etc. have their jobs pretty much on lock). But it’s going to be a tough road ahead to see who to start at #2 corner, outside linebacker, #2 wide receiver, tight end. But the positions to pay attention to this preseason will be free safety where TJ Ward, the rook out of Oregon, and Mike Adams, a sixth year man we signed a few years ago, are trying to prove their worth. The other is right tackle, which could be very promising or depressing, depending on how John St. Clair and Marc Hester perform.

Unlike the fan experience, my preseason flew by, I still had almost no answers. The FS and RT races were not showing any signs one way or the other, and I had a new battle brewing again. Derek Anderson was showing Quinn he wasn’t going to take the #2 job lying down. And Robiskie was showing that he deserved to not only be a starting wide receiver, but he could be #1. At least Martin Rucker solidified himself as the tight end.

After the Carolina game, week four, I had to make some gut decisions. I called a meeting with all the coaches and got their inputs as we all stared at a white board with magnetic names, this time we were deciding who would be our Week 1 starters against Baltimore. The end result looked a little like this:

Brady Quinn
Derek Anderson*
Troy Smith

Jamal Lewis
Jerome Harrison
James Davis
DeMarco Murray

Lawrence Vickers
James Aldridge

Braylon Edwards
Brian Robiskie
Mohamed Massaquoi
Chaz Schilens
Josh Cribbs

Martin Rucker
Robert Royal
James Aldridge

Joe Thomas
Ryan Tucker
John St. Clair

Eric Steinbach
Taylor Metcalf
Ryan Tucker

Alex Mack
Hank Fraley
Ryan Tucker

Sergio Render
Kevin Boothe
Ryan Tucker

Marc Hester
John St. Clair
Ryan Tucker

Kevin Coleman
Robaire Smith
CJ Mosley

Corey Williams*
Robaire Smith
CJ Mosley

Shaun Rogers
DeWayne Robertson
Ahtyba Rubin

Antwan Barnes
Pisa Tinoisamoa
David Bowens

D’Qwell Jackson
Gary Guyton
Reggie Carter
Pisa Tinoisamoa

Kamerion Wimbley
Pisa Tinoisamoa
David Bowens

Eric Wright
Fabian Washington
Walter Thurmond
Phillip Buchanon
Coye Francies

TJ Ward
Mike Adams
Coye Francies

Brodney Pool
Eric Berry
Coye Francies

Matt Prater

Dave Zastudil

Josh Cribbs
Phillip Buchanon

* – Injured

TJ seemed to have a little more spark in his step than Mike Adams did. And it didn’t help Derek Anderson that he got injured in the last preseason game, automatically putting Brady in the starting spot. But Brady put up a very impressive showing his last game, so I felt confident putting him as the starter. John St. Clair gave up 4 more sacks than Marc Hester did, and Antwan Barnes played nearly impeccable these past four games.

I am still worried about TJ though, I can’t tell if he is actually good, or if the teams didn’t think to throw his way. I’ve pondered the thought of putting Francies or Thurmond at the safety spot. We’ll have to see how he does.


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