Still. It's football.
It's been forever since the NFL draft.
What I have always loved about the NFL pre season is that hope springs eternal for every team. All teams, except the two chosen to play a week early in what is the Hall of Fame Game (tonight), have four preseason games. Of those four games, there is really only one that matters: the third game.
Teams will only play their regulars for one series in their first pre season game. And if you're an excellent team, like the Pats, for instance, there really isn't even a need to suit up your superstars for that first exhibition contest.
In the second pre season game, NFL teams will give their starts are quarter or so as prep for the all-important third pre season game.
In that third game, starters will likely play all of the first half and even a series or two in the second half.
The fourth game is the most meaningless really as no starters get time and the teams are just trying to get through the pre season healthy. This is heaven for diehard NFL fans - like me who know this is the only time they'll really ever get to see the fourth string cornerback get a chance to play significant reps.
Hope springs eternal in the pre season because - even if you lose - there is still hope because the starters weren't playing full time and there's always time to get it straightened out.
I just hope the Bengals - my beloved and beleaguered favorite team- can get through healthy. Last season health was a huge concern as AJ Green, Gio Bernard, and Tyler Eifiert (about 85% of the offense in 2015) missed significant time with major injuries.
If healthy, the Bengals have added some real weapons via the draft - namely John Ross III and Joe Mixon - to make their offense explosive.
Couple that with some much needed experience for last year's receivers - Tyler Boyd and Cody Core - and this could rival the offensive power of the 2015 and 2013 teams.
Defensively, with a healthy Andrew Billings and Vontaze Burfict, the Bengals should be back to being a solid unit that - if all goes well - can sneak back into the top ten.
Hopefully, the Bengals can stay healthy and get contributions from their top draft picks, which is something they haven't had since 2011 (AJ Green and Andy Dalton) and 2012 (Kevin Zeitler). Otherwise, top choices like Tyler Eiftert, Darqueez Denard, Cedric Ogbuihi, William Jackson III, and Andrew Billings all missed due to major injuries.
If they stay healthy, an 11-5 record is quite possible. We shall see!
Bring on the 2017 season which pretty much starts tonight!