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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Different approach by ESPN for Monday night season opener

Thu Jul 19 7:02am ET
By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Josh McCown, Matthew Stafford, Sam Darnold, Kerryon Johnson

ESPN is going with a fresh approach for its first 2018 regular-season broadcast of ''Monday Night Football.''

Two announcers with plenty of NFL credentials but far more entrenched in the college game these days will be handling the Jets-Lions game from Detroit: Beth Mowins and Brian Griese.

''We are pretty excited to bring the franchise on the air, and hoping some pretty good story lines will play out,'' says Mowins, who did last year's second half of the opening doubleheader with analyst Rex Ryan. Mowins also does a few CBS telecasts of NFL games during the season, as well as Oakland Raiders preseason contests, but her main gig is college sports.

Griese is one of the top analysts of the college game, an insightful and often critical but fair voice.

''Guys who can shoot from the hip are always fun to work with,'' Mowins says.

Of course, he also played 11 pro seasons, starting 83 games. So his knowledge of both levels of football is expansive.

''I think the pro game in a lot of ways is more familiar to me than the college game,'' Griese notes. ''I have had to learn the college game as it has grown. I spent 11 years in the NFL playing quarterback and it's more similar to what I know.''

What both Mowins and Griese know is that the fan bases of both teams will be stoked for the game, even though Jets-Lions isn't quite the marquee matchup. Indeed, the NFL gave ESPN what appears to be a better game in the nightcap, Jon Gruden's return as the Raiders host the Rams. The regular and new Monday night crew of Joe Tessitore and Jason Witten will be in the booth for that one.

''No question both these teams have reasons for optimism, for different reasons,'' Griese says. ''Jets fans should be excited about Sam Darnold, who can be a game changer and a franchise quarterback in the making. For Detroit, it's a whole new ballgame for the fans with Matt Patricia hired as coach, a new way of doing things. I'm eager to see how he will impact the franchise. And they have their bellwether in Matthew Stafford at quarterback.''

Adds Mowins: ''You tell the truth with a heavier emphasis on the hope, and that is what all of these fan bases are having. The history is part of the story heading into the season and something we absolutely talk about graphically. The nice thing about the opener is everyone has hope again, and we can also focus on the changes these teams have made to improve.''

To its credit, ESPN is willing to make changes or go outside the box for its Monday night showcase. One area of expertise that Mowins and Griese - and sideline reporter Laura Rutledge - bring to the telecast is an advanced awareness of NFL newcomers.

That could be particularly enlightening for Jets-Lions with the likes of Darnold - even if he doesn't play and Josh McCown starts - and Lions rookie running back Kerryon Johnson on hand.

''One of the things I have noticed over the last several years and doing the Raiders games in preseason, you have a head start on rookies coming into the league,'' Mowins says. ''I sort of have that background of who they were and relationships they might have with other players and coaches. That provides a nice jumping-off point, especially early in the season. Some of the rookies the NFL fans may not have seen in college, but I have had a chance to call their games in college, and so has Brian.''

Mowins and Griese have not done game broadcasts together, but have had many conversations and learning sessions. Last year, when the Broncos played in the opener Mowins and Ryan announced, she reached out to Griese, who does Denver's preseason games.

''I've talked with Beth quite a bit through the years, we are in the same college football realm, so we see quite a bit of each other's work,'' Griese says. ''I'm very familiar with her work in college football.

''The approach for me will be a little bit different because I will probably go to both teams' training camps to familiarize myself with the teams. I don't ever do a game where I have not seen a team live or in person (at practice or in a game). That will be the only difference for you in preparation.''

Player Notes
Leonard Fournette Aug 21 11:01pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette could see more action on third down this year, according to head coach Doug Marrone. The Jaguars used Fournette on third down plays with the first team offense in Saturday's preseason game against the Vikings and Marrone said the second-year back seems to be doing a good job in the situations. If Fournette can be a true three-down back for Jacksonville this year, he could see his value in PPR formats vault into the top five by the end of the season.

Theo Riddick Aug 21 10:53pm ET

Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick (undisclosed) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Aug. 21.

Josh Gordon Aug 21 10:43pm ET

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon should be on the practice field very soon, according to head coach Hue Jackson.

Antonio Callaway Aug 21 10:33pm ET

Cleveland Browns WR Antonio Callaway (groin) worked on the side during practice Tuesday, Aug. 21, and may not be able to play in the third preseason game.

Ryan Fitzpatrick Aug 21 10:20pm ET

Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith (knee) will miss the next two-to-four weeks with a sprained knee. Smith looked like he had suffered a much more serious injury in practice but was luckily diagnosed with just a sprain. This is good news for Tampa, but bad news for Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bucs' line will look to be pretty ugly come Week 1 of the regular season if Smith is still out.

From RotoBaller

Adrian Peterson Aug 21 10:13pm ET

Updating a previous report, Washington Redskins RB Adrian Peterson's one-year deal is worth $1.015 million, according to a source.

Jay Ajayi Aug 21 10:03pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles RB Jay Ajayi (undisclosed) has been missing practice because of a lower body injury, according to head coach Doug Pederson.

Eric Reid Aug 21 9:23pm ET

Free-agent FS Eric Reid (49ers) could be an option for the San Francisco 49ers if he is willing to accept a backup role and a salary close to league minimum, but head coach Kyle Shanahan said he does not believe Reid would be willing to accept that type of role.

C.J. Beathard Aug 21 9:23pm ET

San Francisco 49ers QB C.J. Beathard (foot) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Aug. 21, because of a foot injury, but head coach Kyle Shanahan said the hope is that Beathard will practice Wednesday, Aug. 22.

Junior Galette Aug 21 9:13pm ET

Free-agent LB Junior Galette (Redskins) will not sign with the Los Angeles Rams, according to head coach Sean McVay. McVay said Galette underwent a physical during his visit but is not sure if Galette worked out for the team.

Tony Lippett Aug 21 9:03pm ET

Miami Dolphins CB Tony Lippett (ankle) participated in practice Tuesday, Aug. 21.

Kenny Stills Aug 21 8:53pm ET

Miami Dolphins WR Kenny Stills (ankle, calf) participated in practice Tuesday, Aug. 21.

Kalen Ballage Aug 21 8:53pm ET

Miami Dolphins RB Kalen Ballage (concussion) is still going through the concussion protocol and did not participate in practice Tuesday, Aug. 21.

Aug 21 8:33pm ET

Free-agent LB Nick DeLuca (Titans) signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday, Aug. 21. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also placed FS Don Carey (undisclosed) on the Reserve/Injured list.

Tevin Mitchel Aug 21 8:23pm ET

Detroit Lions CB Antwuan Davis was claimed off waivers by the Oakland Raiders Tuesday, Aug. 21. The team also waived/injured S Tevin Mitchel (undisclosed).

Datone Jones Aug 21 8:13pm ET

Dallas Cowboys DE Datone Jones (knee) is expected to miss a few weeks because of a knee injury, according to head coach Jason Garrett.

Cole Beasley Aug 21 7:53pm ET

Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley (groin) returned to practice Tuesday, Aug. 21.

Leighton Vander Esch Aug 21 7:33pm ET

Dallas Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch (groin) is not expected to practice this week as he nurses a groin injury.

J.D. McKissic Aug 21 7:23pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB J.D. McKissic (foot) suffered a Jones' fracture in his foot and is expected to be out four to six weeks, according to a source.

Bradley McDougald Aug 21 7:13pm ET

Seattle Seahawks SS Bradley McDougald (pectoral) did not practice Tuesday, Aug. 21, with a pectoral strain, according to head coach Pete Carroll.