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Welcome back, old friend. Come over here and let me give you a hug.
You’ve been gone since February. Yeah, your alter egos — the draft, free agency, and all those indominable OTAs and summer camps — stayed through the spring and early summer to hold your place in our hearts.
But you’re back now. And we’re thrilled.
It was a too long offseason marked by the blow-by-blow account of the Deshaun Watson saga that will not go away soon. It was a time in which the Dolphins getting sanctioned for, well, violating NFL rules at the highest level. And we saw at least 18 players arrested so far this year.
We even got a spring league out of the USFL trying to feed our love for you.
But you, oh game of speed, skill and violence, were noticeably absent. Missing. Taking your respite before the craziness, your craziness, returns for the 2022 season.
And now you’re back. NFL games are back.
And, hey, I get it. It’s only the preseason. And it’s only the first game of the preseason.
So when the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders meet in the Hall of Fame game we’re not going to see Trevor Lawrence play for the Jaguars. Third-string quarterback Jake Luton (yeah, who?) will start for the Jacksonville.
Running back Travis Etienne, out all last season after a preseason foot injury, also isn’t making his 2022 debut.
“I just want to protect him a little bit,” Jacksonville coach Doug Pederson said before adding some other starters will indeed play.
Pederson, by the way, hasn’t been on an NFL sideline since 2020. So this “exhibition” game is important to him.
“It’s been a while since we’ve all done it, for me, especially,” he said.
The Raiders are different than the Jaguars. The Raiders expect to win big in 2022. And this is the first step to all success.
We’re not absolutely certain whether quarterback Derek Carr will play Thursday night although it would be surprising if he does.
Coach Josh McDaniel declined tell us his plans because, well, strategy and line up information is really, really important for NFL games. McDaniel learned this from Bill Belichick, who refuses to confirm there’s a sun in the sky.
Whether Carr plays is not the point because the Raiders have already provided us with an entertaining moment as they got ready to travel to Canton, Ohio for Thursday night’s game Hall of Fame game.
It had something to do with four very big and rich NFL players and the tiniest and least expensive Uber available.
The NFL is a non-stop show, especially for us older guys with no life who get paid to cover the league. So get your popcorn ready.
There’s a game Thursday night.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero