Friday, August 09, 2002

NFL preseason gets into full swing

By Skip Wood

        Especially for veterans such as ninth-year linebacker Jamir Miller of the Cleveland Browns, training-camp electricity is fleeting.

        “The first three days, you're kind of hyped,” he says of intrasquad hitting, “but now it's like, "Oh, man, it's you again.' ”

        Nothing like a preseason opener, though, to supply needed voltage, and that's why Miller is pumped for Saturday's game at Minnesota.

        “Now,” he says, “you get a chance to go out and hit somebody with a different color on and get some stick marks - some purple stick marks, I should say - on the side of your helmet.”

        Helmet paint, in fact, will be traded throughout the NFL this weekend, the first full schedule of preseason games.

        Four games are set for Friday night, highlighted by the Buffalo Bills hosting Cincinnati. That one marks quarterback Drew Bledsoe's first game since leaving New England after nine seasons.

        “It's like being a rookie again,” Bledsoe says of meeting the Bengals.

        Also of note this weekend:

        Quarterback Michael Vick takes over the reins of the Atlanta Falcons as they visit Jacksonville on Friday night.

        Life without under-construction Soldier Field begins Saturday night for the Chicago Bears, who will face Denver at the University of Illinois.

        Excitement is fine, but Browns coach Butch Davis seeks consistency.

        “Anybody can do (something special) one time - a great catch or a one-handed catch,” he says. “You're looking for guys that had a good scrimmage and seeing if they followed up the next opportunity that they got in a game.”


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