For the first time since moving from St. Louis to Arizona in 1988, the Cardinals will open the regular season at home.
The reason? They have a new indoor stadium, so the blistering heat won't be a factor. A bonus: They play host to San Francisco today, a team that finished 4-12 last season and became only the fourth franchise since 1970 to rank last in offense and defense.
Cardinals Coach Dennis Green says his franchise has been at a "mathematical disadvantage" because it never before got to start a season at home.
"In the National Football League, one out of three years, you should have four of your first six games at home," Green said. "The Arizona Cardinals have never had it. Every other year, you should open at home. The Arizona Cardinals have never had it. And once every three years, you should at least be 3-3. The Arizona Cardinals have never had it. The best they've ever had it was 2-4."
The Cardinals like what they have in tight end Leonard Pope, a 6-foot-8 rookie from Georgia. He caught six passes for 40 yards and a touchdown this summer and is big enough to be a jump-ball threat in the red zone.
Talk about turnover. Just two years removed from the Eagles' Super Bowl appearance, nine of their 22 starters are gone, as are 22 of their 32 non-starters.
"Things like that happen," Coach Andy Reid said. "We still have a pretty good core group of guys left. I've said this before: It is great to stay in one place a long time, like our coaching staff has been able to do and like some of these players have been able to do. But the downside of that is there will be a turnover."
Tough to Defend
The Redskins, who ranked ninth in total defense last season, didn't show many flashes of dominance in that department this summer. In the exhibition games, their defense was third-worst in the NFC. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams says he isn't worried.
"You don't like some of those things that go on, but those things are correctable errors," he said three days after a 41-0 loss at New England. "Sometimes you even get a more receptive audience when you come back after one of those kind of [games].
"It's been nice in the meeting room this week: 'Coach, what do you think you can do to help me?' It's never as bad as it seems. It's never as good as it seems."
Tying Up Loose Ends
Tight end is a trouble spot for the Seahawks. Jerramy Stevens, last season's starter, is out until October with a knee injury, and backup Itula Mili also has knee problems. That means we could see a lot of Will Heller in the opener. He got a modest amount of playing time in his first three seasons at Tampa Bay.
Does Experience Pay?
The Vikings have a bargain in Brad Johnson. He's making $1.2 million this season, less than every other starting quarterback but Cleveland's Charlie Frye. Johnson is in his 15th season and has a Super Bowl ring; Frye is a first-year starter.
Choosing His Words
Brett Favre says he'll talk to Green Bay media once every two weeks. He used to be in the locker room all the time when reporters were present. Now, Favre sightings are fairly rare.
Asked if he plans to talk after games, he said, "It depends what kind of mood I'm in. I know the last couple games last year I didn't talk, but I knew what everyone was going to ask. I plan on talking after every game."
Tall Order in Dallas
Keith Davis is still listed as the Cowboys' starting free safety, but he soon might be asked to step aside for rookie Pat Watkins, a fifth-round pick from Florida State.
"We're looking for big things from Pat," Coach Bill Parcells said. Watkins is plenty big as it is. At 6 feet 5, he's believed to be the tallest safety in NFL history.
The 49ers have made good on a promise the late Thomas Herrion made to his mother, Janice. They had a house built for her in Fort Worth. Herrion died of a heart attack a year ago, in the locker room after an exhibition against Denver.