The long, boring wait is over: Redskins football is back. Washington will take on the Atlanta Falcons in Game 1 of the preseason Thursday night, and there's lot to know before kickoff. To start, tune into CSN at 6:00 for Redskins Kickoff, then enjoy a full HD broadcast of the game at 7 p.m. before Redskins Postgame Live immediately following the action. If you've missed Redskins football, Thursday night on CSN will be an overload.
As for the action on the field, there's plenty to watch for there too. Let's get to it:
- Keep expectations in check - As exciting as it is to see the Redskins back on the football field, remember this is the first preseason game out of four, and just the very beginning of a long 2016 season. Kirk Cousin told CSN's Chick Hernandez that he expects to play between 10 to 15 snaps, and that the better he plays, the sooner Cousins and the starting offense will head to the bench. Washington coach Jay Gruden was less commital on exact snap counts, but more experienced players will not get a lot of run in this game.
- It will be short, but it will be fun - Josh Norman and Julio Jones won't play much Thursday night, but when they do matchup, it should be fun. In two games against the Panthers last season, Jones went off: 16 catches for more than 260 yards and a touchdown. Obviously, not all of that was against Norman, but the Jones vs. Norman hype train will be in effect in Atlanta, especially after a bizarre video of Ric Flair declaring Jones better than Norman emerged Wednesday afternoon.
- Backups get the call - Some of the Redskins biggest offensive names will not hit the field in Atlanta: Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed tops among them. Hernandez also reported that Trent Williams will sit out Thursday night's game. The absence of all three will open up opportunities for key backups to get menaingful minutes. Expect to see more of Vernon Davis and Niles Paul in reed's spot, Ryan Grant playing in Crowder's normal slot WR position, and Ty Nsekhe filling in for Williams. Additionally, other players will get a chance to return punts, one of Crowder's primary roles, like Will Blackmon and maybe even Rashad Ross.
- Show me something - While veterans like Williams and those with slight injuries like Crowder and Reed lose nothing by sitting out Thursday's game, for many players, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Undrafted rookies and training camp signees will get the chance to play a lot in this game, and their play will be broken down by coaches, both positive and negative. For guys like Lynden Trail or Ejiro Ederaine, a strong performance can put them in position for a roster spot. A poor performance can have equally as bad of an impact.
- Run 'til you drop - Barring injuries, two roles are certain in the Redskins backfield: Matt Jones is the starting running back and Chris Thompson is the third-down back. Beyond that, questions emerge. Rookie Keith Marshall - a seventh-rouund pick from Georgia - has the chance to secure the backup role to Jones, but the former Bulldog has lost games due to injuries for most of his career. Keep the trainers away, and Marshall could run into an important role. Beyond Marshall, guys like Robert Kelley, Mack Brown and Kelsey Young will get chances with the ball. An impressive performance will keep the running back debate going deep into August - and perhaps create another Redskins Preseason All-Star that fans will love.