It’s preseason with a tinge of the playoffs.
That will be one of the highlights of a 13-game national television preseason schedule that was announced Thursday by the NFL, along with the complete list of 2008 preseason matchups. All 12 of the 2007 NFL playoff teams will be featured in the national TV games.
It all starts where the NFL started –- in Canton, Ohio, site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On Sunday night, Aug. 3 (NBC, 8 p.m. ET), the Indianapolis Colts will take on the Washington Redskins in the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game. It will be an eventful weekend for the Redskins as two of the greatest players in their history –- cornerback Darrell Green and wide receiver Art Monk -– will join the class of 2008 at the Hall induction ceremonies on Saturday. The game also will mark the NFL head-coaching debut of Washington’s Jim Zorn.
Other highlights on the preseason schedule:
Two top-10 receivers from last season, in both catches and yards, square off as Marques Colston and the Saints visit Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals (Thursday, Aug. 7, ESPN, 8 p.m. ET). ... NFL fans will see the starting debut of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who this year takes over for the retired Brett Favre, when Cincinnati travels to Green Bay (Monday, Aug. 11, ESPN, 8 p.m. ET).
Panthers QB Jake Delhomme will continue his comeback from elbow surgery as he is tested by new Eagles (and former Patriots) CB Asante Samuel when Philadelphia hosts Carolina (Thursday, Aug. 14, FOX, 8 p.m. ET). ... Two recent first-round quarterbacks meet for the first time as JaMarcus Russell and the Raiders visit Vince Young and the Titans (Saturday, Aug. 16, FOX, 8 p.m. ET). ... Two division winners go at it as New England travels to Tampa Bay (Sunday, Aug. 17, NFL Network, 8 p.m. ET). ... The Super Bowl XLII champion New York Giants debut at home against Cleveland (Monday, Aug. 18, ESPN, 8 p.m. ET).
Two quarterbacks seeking to re-establish themselves as starters square off as Alex Smith and the 49ers travel to face Rex Grossman and the Bears in Chicago (Thursday, Aug. 21, FOX, 8 p.m. ET). ... The Battle for Texas takes place when Houston visits Dallas (Friday, Aug. 22, CBS, 8 p.m. ET). ... Pittsburgh’s No. 3 NFL rush defense of ’07 can judge where it stands for ’08 when it faces Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson, the NFL ’07 Offensive Rookie of the Year and Pro Bowl MVP (Saturday, Aug. 23, CBS, 8 p.m. ET). ... Buffalo helps Indianapolis open its new 63,000-seat Lucas Oil Stadium (Sunday, Aug. 24, NFL Network, 8 p.m. ET). ... Two more division winners meet when Seattle travels to San Diego. The Seahawks will be priming new RB Julius Jones (Monday, Aug. 25, ESPN, 8 p.m. ET).
In the only nationally televised game of the week, Washington’s Zorn faces Jacksonville in a regular-season tuneup usually relegated to backups (Thursday, Aug. 28, NBC, 7 p.m. ET).