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Seahawks, Chargers kick off TV slate

Although Pete Carroll is an unabashed optimist who has attacked the Seahawks' post-lockout challenges with his usual can-do attitude, even Seattle's perpetually sunny coach realizes Tarvaris Jackson can't possibly be ready to run his offense after just a handful of practices.

At least Carroll's new quarterback won't be the only player learning on the job when the NFL finally returns today with five preseason games. Seattle visits the San Diego Chargers for the first nationally televised game of the year — at 5 p.m. on ESPN — even if both teams still aren't ready for prime time.

"Tarvaris has been with us for four days, or five days or something, that we've been here together with the whole line and the cadence and the system and the checks and all that," Carroll said. "That's a lot to ask. Other guys are still struggling to catch up right now. We have to look at it a little differently than we have at other times."

After the lockout wiped out most offseason activities and led to short training camps for all 32 teams, the exhibition season could be even more ramshackle than normal. Look for miscommunications, dropped passes, missed blocks, and games with more bloopers than the cutting-room floor at NFL Films.

But the Qualcomm Stadium crowd will see two offenses on opposite sides of the post-lockout spectrum. While the Seahawks undertook an overhaul of their inconsistent offense, the Chargers made almost no changes to their vaunted attack, hoping it pays off in continuity and consistency.

"Every consideration we have about this game is what's best for our football team in September, when we start playing regular-season games," San Diego coach Norv Turner said. "My big emphasis in early preseason games is to start looking at our young guys and see where they're at."

With little time to learn, rookies and newcomers on every NFL team will need every available snap in their four exhibition games to get ready for the season — and Jackson will be under a particularly bright spotlight.

The Seahawks jettisoned Matt Hasselbeck after the three-time Pro Bowl selection's successful decade, determined to rebuild a 7-9 club — which still beat the defending champion New Orleans Saints in a playoff game — with free agents including Jackson, the Vikings' eternal Plan B behind Brett Favre in recent years.


Hue Jackson has waited a long time for his first chance to be a head coach.

So it comes as no surprise that he's going into his debut in the exhibition opener for the Oakland Raiders with the same sort of verve he brings each day to the practice field.

"If they're keeping score, I like to win," Jackson said. "That's the way it is. Our team is going to go out there and play the way we're supposed to play as Raiders and keep building on that."

Oakland opens the preseason tonight at home against the Arizona Cardinals and their newly acquired quarterback, Kevin Kolb. It will also be the first chance for Raiders fans to see how the team has changed under Jackson's leadership.

After spending a decade in the NFL as an offensive assistant, Jackson got the chance to run his own team when owner Al Davis hired him last January. So instead of just worrying about the offense or his position group, Jackson must spend the night before the game deciding how much to play his starters, thinking about clock management and other strategy issues that fall on the head coach's shoulders.,

The Raiders will go into the preseason opener without many of their key offensive players. Star running back Darren McFadden is out with a broken orbital bone in his face, receiver Jacoby Ford is sidelined with a broken hand and receiver Louis Murphy has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury.

That will give some younger players a chance to shine, including rookie receiver Denarius Moore, who has been the training camp star so far this summer.


Michael Vick and the rest of the starters are expected to play one quarter when the Philadelphia Eagles open the preseason against the Baltimore Ravens tonight.

Eagles coach Andy Reid has a simple rotation. He's going to play the first unit in the first quarter, the backups in the second and the third-string in the third with the rest of the players fighting for roster spots finishing up in the fourth.

Vick won't have starting wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Jackson just reported to camp on Monday after holding out. Maclin still remains sidelined by an undisclosed illness.

Philadelphia agreed to terms with former New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith on a one-year deal Wednesday.

The 26-year-old Smith had 220 catches for 2,386 yards and 11 touchdowns in four seasons with the Giants. In his 2009 Pro Bowl season, he caught a franchise-record 107 passes for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns.

Smith sustained a season-ending left knee injury last December.