Most telling Carolina Panther-New York Jets pregame development: Louis Murphy will start at wide receiver in place of Steve Smith, who did make the trip to New Jersey. If you were wondering who Carolina's No. 3 receiver will be when Smith returns, assuming he returns, wonder no more.
Best pregame development: Warming up on the field at Metlife Stadium was Panther linebacker Thomas Davis, who has three times torn the ACL in his right knee and three times returned. Welcome back.
Best New York twist: On a TV in the press box were Joe Namath and his Jets beating Baltimore in one of the great Super Bowl upsets. It was like Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson, or like me making a road trip to New Jersey without forgetting something, such as my cell phone and binoculars, or both.
I met Namath a few years ago. Met him in a hotel gym at the Detroit Super Bowl. He was kind of doddering, to be honest with you. Saw him at a party that night. He doddered no more.
Cool to meet the athletes you support growing up. I've met Namath, Muhammad Ali and Earl the Pearl Monroe. Collect the whole set.
On the Jets roster, but inactive tonight, is Dexter Jackson, a receiver out of Appalachian State.
Carolina's defensive line, which I've written several times is their weakest component, was impressive last week against Miami. The line was quick off the ball and tough against the run. I want to see how the line does against Mark Sanchez and the Jets, who ought to be desperate. The Jets scored six points in their exhibition opener against Cincinnati and three last week against the New York Giants.
Quinton Coples, who played defensive end and tackle for North Carolina, will start tonight at tackle for the Jets. Coples, New York's first-round pick, has a reputation for not playing hard all the time. Imagine, hearing that about a Tar Heel pass rusher.
But I went to his Pro Day in Chapel Hill and he was outstanding.
The Jets use a 3-4, so Coples will work against Ryan Kalil and the Panther guards.
Kickoff is in 10 minutes. Stadium is mostly empty. You can't doubt the passion of New York fans. You can doubt forcing them to buy tickets to two NFL preaseason games.
Cut the preseason from four games to two, keep the regular season at 16 games, and we'll all be happier. And have more money.