No, it's not the regular season but Al Michaels, John Madden and the debut of Lisa Guerrero will broadcast the Hall of Fame Game featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers. That might be the most exciting aspect of this game besides the continued celebration of Hall of Fame Inductees Hank Stram and Marcus Allen.
In what is the first of five pre-season games, the Chiefs and Packers will play their regulars for maybe one or two series. Obviously, the big question in Kansas City is Priest Holmes and the Chiefs have yet to decide if he will see any playing time in this game.
For the Chiefs, they will get to evaluate running back Larry Johnson and a host of wide receivers who are fighting for one spot on the roster. The Chiefs really don't have many questions entering the first exhibition game as they generally just hope to get through it without any serious injuries.
Quarterback Trent Green is expected to play only one or two series. One interesting thing to watch out is the further development of back-up quarterback Jonathan Quinn. He has been on fire in camp and he could actually jump ahead of Todd Collins with a strong performance in the exhibition games.
Quinn was highly regarded in Jacksonville when he backed up Mark Brunell and he seems to have a much better understanding of the Chiefs offense in his second year with the club. Collins has also had a good camp but Quinn's velocity and accuracy has been a hot topic in training camp.
But the biggest question will be how the defense plays against the Packers first offensive unit led by Brett Favre. Vonnie Holliday, who signed as free agent from Green Bay should have some extra motivation. Other names to watch will be linebacker Shawn Barber and those cornerbacks.
Eric Warfield made some spectacular plays in the scrimmages against the Vikings this past week but he also was burned on several occasions. The real battle will be for the other cornerback spot as William Bartee is trying to hold off Dexter McCleon who signed as free agent from the Rams.
The Chiefs must have better play from their cornerbacks if they are going to be successful and rookie Julian Battle should get some good looks as well as veteran Corey Harris. Harris showed some brief flashes last year and he could be a contributor in the Chiefs backfield this year. But in order for that to happen he needs to play big for the Chiefs during the month of August.
It's not known if Jerome Woods will play. He was held out of practice this week. Woods is recovering from a broken leg that sidelined him last year. Tackle John Tait definitely will not play against the Packers (ankle).
Another key battle to look out for is the race for the punter job. Leo Araguz and Jason Baker are both trying to get ahead of one another and each player has looked sharp in camp. The Chiefs are hopeful that they can score often enough to allow Araguz and Baker a chance to handle some of the kick-off duties.
The Chiefs have former 49ers kicker Jose Cortez, who can boot the ball into the end zone on kick-offs but KC doesn't want to cover two place kickers. With Morten Andersen set to handle the field goal duties, the Chiefs would like someone else step up to handle the kick-off duties.
Other players to watch will be Eric Hicks and Ryan Sims. Though they won't play much, the Chiefs are anxious to see them get a few reps in and to see how effective they can be against the Packers offense.
Look for linebackers Quenton Carver and converted lineman turned middle linebacker Monty Beisel to get plenty of playing time. Carver and Beisel are locks to make the team but linebackers are so important in defensive coordinator Greg Robinson's plan this year; that any depth developed during the pre-season will pay dividends down the road.
On the Packers side of the ball, they will also have a former player inducted into the Hall of Fame, James Lofton. But the Packers are curious to see if wide receiver Donald Driver has recovered from the ailments that stalled a very productive 2002 season. The former Kansas City Chiefs practice squad player had an amazing season a year ago. He quickly became Favre's most reliable target.
The Packers are coming of two 12-4 seasons and after a disappointing loss to the Falcons at home in the playoffs, has this team focused and ready. But Favre and company are going to take a strong look at wide receiver Carl Ford. He's been impressive in training camp. The other key offensive player in the Packers arsenal is running back Ahman Green who led the Packers in rushing and was very effective catching the ball out of the backfield.
On defense the Packers feature one of the best linebackers in Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. He feuded with the Packers during free agency but both sides eventually came to their senses as they agreed on a long-term contract. Former Kansas defensive end Gilbert Brown patrols the middle of the Packers defensive line and Green Bay has two solid cornerbacks in Mike McKenzie and Al Harris.
So even thought the starters will be out early even with the national TV audience, the Chiefs and Packers are hopeful that they will be able to evaluate players to shore up some depth for the regular season.
Neither team will be exposing much of their offense since the Chiefs play the Packers in the regular season in Green Bay. But nonetheless, this contest officially kicks off the 2003 season.