That smell wafting in the air? It's the scent of pigskin, grass (field turf?) and sweat -- football will soon be back in our lives.
As all 32 teams prepare to start cracking the pads, NFL Network will offer an unprecedented inside look into training camps, beginning with the debut of Inside Training Camp Live on Thursday, July 24. The program will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET each day through Tuesday, Aug. 5, offering fans live, comprehensive coverage of practices.
It's been far too long since we had any semblance of football, so these are exciting times. Here are our top five things to watch during ITC Live:
1. NFL Media analysts will return to their former teams in a homecoming of sorts. The highlight of the scheduled slate? It's easily Deion Sanders, who won't visit the Cowboys or Falcons, but the Redskins (on July 25). Yes, the team he played on for only year. Redskins fans don't necessarily have fond memories of Prime Time's short stint in D.C.
2. Quarterback training camp battles. We're looking at you, Johnny Football. Can Brian Hoyer, a man coming off reconstructive knee surgery who has started just four NFL games, hold off Manziel? It will be interesting to see how JFF looks in camp; what kind of zip he has on his throws. We also have Teddy Bridgewater vs. Matt Cassell/Christian Ponder in Minnesota, and then the on-again, off-again duel pitting Geno Smith against Michael Vick. Of course, the real competitions will come down to preseason games, and NFL Network will televise all 65 contests.
3. Speaking of the preseason, there's some tasty matchups on NFL Network's live slate (a record 14 games). We're pumped for the Harbaugh Bowl in Week 1 and Eagles-Patriots in Week 2. We'll also get to see the Sanchize attempt to exact (preseason) revenge on the Jets in Week 3.
5. Players on the comeback trail. Will Matt Schaub channel his 2012 form and surprise for the Raiders? Can RGIII display the kind of blazing speed he used as a rookie to take the league by storm? Arian Foster and Julio Jones are also looking to rebound from injury-riddled 2013 seasons.
Buckle up, the offseason is almost over.