Football officially returned Thursday night, as the Super Bowl champions kicked off their title defense with a 16-7 win over the Redskins. After signing a five-year, $35 million contract extension hours before the game Plaxico Burress celebrated with 133 yards on a career-high 10 catches, turning in his second straight huge opener after torching the Cowboys for 144 yards and three scores last season.
Along with Burress, Brandon Jacobs also had an impressive night, bulldozing his way to 116 yards on 21 carries. Meanwhile, the Redskins managed just 209 total yards and 11 first downs, as new coach Jim Zorn showed off a very conservative attack in his debut. Interestingly, Zorn got the Redskins job after Steve Spagnulo withdrew from consideration to remain the Giants defensive coordinator.
While this season begins like last season ended, here are some other notes from around football .
* Giants tidbits from the opener: Eli Manning was his usual inconsistent self, but had a rushing touchdown after totaling two scores on the ground through his first four years. Derrick Ward is clearly No. 2 on the depth chart behind Jacobs, with Ahmad Bradshaw third. Kevin Boss went catchless and was targeted just once, showing why the Rotoworld Draft Guide ranked him just 23rd among tight ends.
* Redskins tidbits from the opener: Antwaan Randle El had a superficially nice game with 73 yards on seven grabs, but nearly all of that came in quasi-garbage time. Chris Cooley had just one catch for seven yards, but he's never had a big Week 1, combining for 57 yards on seven grabs in four previous openers. Plus, after watching this amazing video you know Cooley will step it up for his owners.
* Kevin Curtis' hernia put Reggie Brown in position to get a ton of early season targets as the Eagles' top receiver, but a hamstring injury has Brown uncertain to play in Week 1. He missed Thursday's practice and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called him "day-to-day right now" while adding that regardless of his status rookie DeSean Jackson "will start at front flanker" Sunday.
With Jackson and Hank Baskett the Eagles' likely starters, Brown is no longer a fantasy option against the Rams. Meanwhile, Jackson is suddenly set to take on a big role offensively after initially being expected to serve primarily as a return man early on. While the Eagles will surely lean even heavier than usual on Brian Westbrook, with Curtis and Brown out there's room for a wideout to step up.
* Coach Tony Sparano said Wednesday that Ronnie Brown has had "more life in his legs" and "a little more burst" recently, and refused to confirm various reports that Ricky Williams will be the Week 1 starter. However, the Newark Star-Ledger speculates that Williams will likely get "nearly 20 carries" against the Jets. Brown figures to see third-down work either way, but Williams is the better Week 1 bet.
* Antonio Gates has practiced fully this week, but said Thursday that he "won't start the game" and will be limited in Week 1 due to his surgically repaired foot. "Just trying to monitor the situation depending how it feels when I get out there," Gates said. "Sunday will definitely tell the tale and give a clear picture of what I can do in the game." Gates is impossible to bench, so check back on his status.
* Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said Thursday that Willis McGahee (knee) is "getting close" to full health, but could be a game-time decision Sunday after being limited in back-to-back practices. "Whether that'll mean this week or not, I don't know," Cameron said. If McGahee sits rookie Ray Rice should get 15-20 touches and the two backs may split time anyway. McGahee is a poor RB2.
Two-Minute Drill: According to coach Rod Marinelli, Rudi Johnson "went out and had a good day" in his first Lions practice, but don't expect more than a handful of Week 1 touches . Devin Hester is slated to start at wide receiver in addition to returning kicks in Week 1, and coach Tony Dungy said Wednesday that the Colts plan to kick to him . While the Steelers reportedly remain undecided on their goal-line running back, Mewelde Moore will take over for Willie Parker on third downs . After passing both Will Heller and Jeb Putzier on the Seahawk's tight end depth chart, rookie John Carlson will get the Week 1 start . General manager Scot McCloughan said Wednesday that former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith won't return to the 49ers at the price of $9 million next season unless he's viewed as the starter . Primarily a special teamer in the past, Greg Camarillo has surprisingly moved ahead of Derek Hagan on the Dolphins' receiver depth chart . A shell of his former self since his 2005 knee injury, Daunte Culpepper retired Thursday at the age of 31, saying that he's been denied a "fair chance to compete for a job."
Red Zone: Ryan Grant (hamstring) returned to practice Thursday after two days off, but remains a mediocre RB1 option due to an unfavorable matchup against Minnesota . Either putting an end to the injury talk or ramping up speculation even further, Tom Brady (foot) is oddly absent from the injury report after years of being "probable" every week . Chad Johnson (shoulder) put in a full practice Thursday, making him a go for Sunday's matchup with the Ravens . Concerns about his stitched-up foot can be put aside now that Braylon Edwards is absent from the injury report . Limited in practice Thursday, Joey Galloway (groin) and Antonio Bryant (knee) both seem likely to face the Saints in Week 1 . Javon Walker (hamstring) skipped practice Thursday and will be a game-time decision Monday night, so he shouldn't be in fantasy lineups this week . D.J. Hackett (toe) practiced fully Thursday and will start Sunday against the Chargers . Ben Watson (knee) missed his second straight practice Thursday, making it unlikely that he'll play this week . Angelo Crowell led the Bills with 126 tackles last year, but his season is over before it starts following knee surgery Thursday.