(Sports Network) - Donovan McNabb will wear the uniform of the Washington Redskins for the first time on Friday night, when the veteran quarterback leads his new team against the Buffalo Bills in the preseason opener for both clubs.
McNabb's April 4th trade to Washington after 10 seasons of stardom for the division-rival Philadelphia Eaglesranked among the biggest offseason stories in the league this year. The six-time Pro Bowler, who led the Eagles to the playoffs seven times in his decade with the team, is being counted on to breathe life into a Redskins organization that has had just two winning seasons since 1999 and dropped to 4-12 - its worst mark since 1994 - in 2009.
The dismal showing prompted the dismissal of head coach Jim Zorn, who was replaced in the offseason by two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan, late of the Denver Broncos.
Shanahan's new offensive scheme will be laid bare for the first time in a game situation on Friday, with the work of McNabb, the play of a suspect receiving corps (Santana Moss, Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, Bobby Wade, Joey Galloway, Mike Furrey), and the effort of new starting left tackle Trent Williams, the team's first-round draft choice out of Oklahoma, all worth watching.
The Redskins will also have a new right tackle in 2010 after acquiring Jammal Brown from New Orleans. He's still recovering from hip and hernia surgeries that forced him to miss all of last season, however, and will not play in Friday's opener.
Also a matter of contention is the depth chart at running back, where Clinton Portis will be pushed by fellow veterans Larry Johnson (ex-Chiefs) and Willie Parker (ex-Steelers).
Defensively, Redskins coordinator Jim Haslett will institute a 3-4 defense, though it is unclear whether disgruntled lineman Albert Haynesworth will be on the field as part of that scheme on Friday.
The Bills are also beginning a new era on Friday, as Chan Gailey takes over head coaching duties for Buffalo. Gailey's previous NFL head coaching experience came with the Cowboys, with whom he went 18-14 in two seasons (1998-99) but did not win a playoff game.
Gailey, who will be closely monitoring the audition among quarterbacks Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick andBrian Brohm, is attempting to lead the Bills to their first playoff berth since 1999.
Like Washington, Buffalo is incorporating a new 3-4 defensive scheme that will try to take a step forward on Friday.
The Redskins hold a 7-5 edge in their all-time preseason series with the Bills, including a 17-14 home victory in the last such meeting, prior to the 2008 season.
The most memorable contest between the Bills and Redskins was Super Bowl XXVI, won by Washington, 37-24, in Minneapolis.