Washington football fans are already excited about the Redskins. The team looked much improved in Sunday’s 28-14 win over the New York Giants. But there are plenty of other NFL teams, players and stories to keep an eye on this season. Let’s take a look at some.
The Eagles: Philadelphia is loaded this year. The Eagles added all-pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to an already rock-solid defense. With the super-exciting Michael Vick running and passing at quarterback, the Eagles look primed and ready to make a run at the Super Bowl.
Donovan McNabb: The former Redskins quarterback is now calling signals for the Minnesota Vikings. It will be interesting to see if McNabb has more success in Minnesota than he did last year with Washington. McNabb didn’t look very good in the Vikings’ opener against the San Diego Chargers, passing for a measly 39 yards.
Albert Haynesworth: The big defensive tackle was a huge flop for the Redskins. Now Haynesworth is playing for the New England Patriots and their no-nonsense head coach, Bill Belichick. Maybe Belichick can figure out a way to get Haynesworth to play hard — at least some of the time.
Cam Newton: The No. 1 pick in last year’s NFL draft looked terrific in his first game at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. Newton threw for 422 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort against the Arizona Cardinals. As a rookie on a weak team, Newton will have his ups and downs. But circle October 23 on your calendar. That’s when the Redskins play the Panthers; Newton is fun to watch.
The Colts: In the past eight years, Indianapolis has had a regular-season record of 99 wins and only 29 losses. The Colts won a Super Bowl following the 2006 season and seven division titles during that time. The reason? Their quarterback, Peyton Manning, has been one of the best in the NFL. Now, Manning may be out for the entire season with a neck injury. That spells big trouble for the Colts.
Kickoffs: This season, the NFL moved the spot for kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line. The idea is that players will be safer because there will be fewer bone-crunching collisions on kick returns. But the change also means fewer chances for kick returners, such as the Redskins’ Brandon Banks, to break away on long, exciting runs.
The Lions: In 2008, the Detroit Lions lost all 16 of their games. The Lions didn’t lose hope. They drafted lots of new players, including quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, and now may be the surprise team of the season.
Or, who knows? Maybe this year’s surprise team will be the Redskins.
Fred Bowen is the author of 17 sports books for kids. His latest, “Quarterback Season,” has just been published.