- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yep, that’s Peyton Manning wearing No. 18 and throwing passes. The uniform might look strange, though.

And yes, that’s a female line judge making calls in the Green Bay at San Diego game.

As for those two good-looking youngsters with the Colts and Redskins, they’re the top picks from this year’s draft making their NFL debuts.

The first full weekend of preseason games kicks off Thursday night with Manning leading the Denver Broncos at Chicago, his first action since the playoffs after the 2010 season for the once-indestructible quarterback.

On the same night, Shannon Eastin makes history when she officiates in the Packers-Chargers matchup _ on national television, no less. Eastin is one of the replacement officials hired by the league while the regulars are locked out after their contract with the NFL expired.

Also Thursday, second overall selection Robert Griffin III leads the Redskins at Buffalo. Top overall pick QB Andrew Luck must wait until Sunday for the Colts’ first exhibition game, at home against St. Louis.

The rest of Thursday’s night schedule has New Orleans, already 1-0 after beating the Rams in the Hall of Fame game, at New England; Pittsburgh at Philadelphia; and Baltimore at Atlanta.

On Friday, it’s the Super Bowl champion New York Giants at Jacksonville; the New York Jets at Cincinnati; Tampa Bay at Miami; Arizona at Kansas City; Cleveland at Detroit: and Minnesota at San Francisco.

Saturday’s matchups have Houston at Carolina and Tennessee at Seattle.

Dallas at Oakland finishes off the weekend on Monday night.


Denver (No. 10 in the AP Pro32) at Chicago (No. 11 tie)

Imagine the anticipation Manning is feeling about getting back on the field after neck surgery forced him to miss all of last season, then the Colts let him walk as a free agent. The four-time MVP can’t possibly be treating this as another friendly.

“I think he’s anxious to get in there, just like all of our starters,” coach John Fox said

Even Bears QB Jay Cutler is eager to see Manning back behind center.

Story Continues →