If preseason football feels different, it's because it is.
When the Texans started playing 20 years ago, yes, the would-be starters played more snaps in these games. But there was a catch.
In my extremely scientific research (of examining my own thoughts and opinions), teams are running way more of their regular season offense and defense in these games compared to years past.
Back in the 'ole' days (they weren't THAT long ago but with all the twenty-somethings we have working here I have to remember that many of them were barely able to talk when the Texans kicked off against the Cowboys on September 8, 2002) you wouldn't see blitzes. Heck, you'd barely see a receiver in motion.
Now, sure the starters are getting less time but those actually in the game are being called on to flesh out the coach's playbook in a far more elaborate fashion than the Gen X players were. To be clear, I'm not isolating this take to NRG Stadium. I'm one of the many people who watch a gazillion preseason games on NFL Network every August.
Some media types still incorrectly refer to these contests as exhibition games. The League does have a long history of exhibition play but it's from the NFL Jurassic era when it was still forming 100 years ago, and many games were against teams from other leagues and colleges. Weird.
Up until the 70s, you had the Super Bowl champions play the college all-stars. That did not go well. Things have stabilized a great deal since then.
As far as the Texans go, this preseason thing is flying. They're done a week from Thursday night. They ran a practice on Wednesday that felt far more like a regular season session than the Training Camp action I was feasting on a little more than a week ago.
An interesting period for Lovie Smith and his staff will be the 17-day gap between playing the final preseason game and the opener. He'll have to throttle that carefully, getting the players as fresh as possible yet keeping the intensity up.
For now, let's enjoy Friday night at L.A. (9 PM on Sports Radio 610, The Bull 100.3 FM and ABC 13). It's another drive around the block for the '22 squad as they build toward the opener against the team I love to hate the most – the Colts, September 11.