Preparation is critical in the NFL

During the regular season, winning is the only thing that matters. In the preseason, however, a team's win-loss record is less of an issue. Success is measured in various other ways. With the first weekend of the 2007 preseason completed, now is the best time to discuss exactly what teams want to achieve in the weeks prior to the season opener.

Maintain health: Preseason injuries are the most frustrating of all. When a key player is lost, the team suffers tremendously. Regardless of its record, if a contending team avoids a significant injury the preseason is considered a success.

Gain experience: This is critical for a rookie or a backup. These players don't receive significant playing time and are afforded few reps in practice, so improvement during the season is generally minimal. The improvements must take place during the preseason. In training camp, a young player may get 20 to 30 reps daily over two practices, plus 20 to 30 game snaps. During the season, that same player may get only four or five reps a day, with no game snaps.

Perfect schemes: So many new players are added to the roster each season, from rookies to free-agent acquisitions, the coaching staff must do plenty of teaching as well. Amidst all of the experimenting and improving, preparing for the opener is still the most important issue at hand.

Complete the roster: On the Saturday before the opener, a team's roster is as complete as it will be for the next 12 months. Only injuries, suspensions, waivers or terminations will alter this final depth chart. If holes in the lineup exist, this will be the last good chance to seek help. After the opening week, practice squads and final signings will eat up anyone remotely capable of filling those needs.

Build confidence: This aspect might be as important as any. Entering the season with a genuine belief that you will succeed is paramount. Players want to experience success. Confidence can be developed in training camp.

Former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese contributes frequently to ESPN.com.