Since returning to the Redskins, Joe Gibbs has been on sort of an extended homecoming. For Redskins fans, the homecoming officially begins Saturday night with the team's first preseason home game. Fans at FedExField will see what Gibbs does best--coach a football team in a NFL game.
Gibbs makes his debut at the Redskins' 91,655-seat stadium against the Carolina Panthers at 8 p.m. ET.
"It'll be interesting for me, but I know what to expect from my fans," Gibbs said Friday after the team's practice. "I don't know 92,000 of them, but it'll be interesting to be at home for a lot of our players who weren't here last year. It'll be an exciting time. We all know our fans make a difference."
Gibbs has been at FedExField only twice--once in 2000 when he was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor and earlier this year when he attended the team's Draft Day Party.
With the remnants of Hurricane Charley expected to hit the Washington, D.C., region Saturday afternoon, Gibbs' coaching return could be a wet one. But the only thing that could deter Gibbs is if the NFL decides to cancel the game due to lightning in the area.
"If it's rainy weather, it's usually your best players who play the best," Gibbs said. "But we're going to play in bad weather this year-this is an outdoor sport, obviously. We're going to play in everything you can think of. The thing about being in Washington--I don't care how cold it was, if it was raining, whatever--the stadium was always jam-packed. I always admired that about our fans."
Asked how long the starters would play, Gibbs said coaches would "play it how we feel." In last Monday's 20-17 win over the Denver Broncos in the Hall of Fame Game, most starters played a couple of series in the first quarter. Mark Brunell started at quarterback and played into the second quarter before being replaced by Patrick Ramsey.
In Saturday's game, Ramsey will get the start as Gibbs alternates his quarterbacks during the first few preseason games.
"All of our quarterbacks, when they get the opportunity, they're going to be matched up against a real good group," Gibbs said. "Every play you make will be important because you're evaluating against the best out there. It's a big test for all of them. Certainly the quarterback is a reflection of the pass protection and the running game, but I'm hoping we look smooth and we all do our part."
Another position that will be scrutinized on Saturday is right tackle, where Kenyatta Jones will make his first start as a Redskin. Jones replaces Jon Jansen, who suffered a season-ending ruptured left Achilles injury in Monday's game.
"Obviously everybody's going to be curious to see what happens at right tackle," Gibbs said. "I think we're going to give Kenyatta a chance and look at other guys behind him. Guys like Mark Wilson and Jim Molinaro are going to get their opportunities."