By Zack Schlegel
The NFL Preseason has eleven games on the slate this evening. There is plenty of football to watch, but here are four games we will be keeping a closer eye on.
New York Jets at New York Giants (4PM, NFL Network)
Jets: Running backs
Jets fans were hoping to get their first taste of running back Le’Veon Bell tonight, however it’s been reported that Adam Gase will keep him out of action for the Jets preseason opener at Metlife Stadium. Bell hasn’t played a down of football since the 2017 season, so there is a lot to consider when it comes to how much playing time the Jets will want to give him prior to the start of the regular season. Expect to see a mix of Bilal Powell, Ty Montgomery, and the younger backs carrying the load.
Giants: Daniel Jones
The Giants have Eli Manning listed as the starter in tonight’s preseason opener, but we will certainly see the anticipated debut of quarterback Daniel Jones. The No. 6 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft will have a lot on his shoulders, and Giants fans are praying that they made the right choice. The departure of superstar Odell Beckham Jr. has left the Giants thin at wide receiver, so the question will be who will step up in his absence?
Washington Redskins at Cleveland Browns (4:30PM)
Redskins: Quarterback battle
Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy will not start in the preseason opener against the Browns. According to reports, he has not yet made a full recovery from his offseason knee injury. This leaves the door wide open for Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins to get significant playing time out of the gate. Haskins hasn’t gotten many reps with the first team this training camp, but that could change tonight. One of the most notable quarterback battles in the NFL this season begins tonight in Cleveland.
Browns: Pharaoh Brown is home and improving
The Browns starting offensive weapons are not expected to make much of an appearance this preseason, but Oregon Ducks fans will be happy to see their former tight end Pharaoh Brown getting reps. Brown was born in Cleveland, OH and is beginning his second season with the Browns. He was placed on injured reserve last December, but has come back strong and is currently locked in a competition with Orson Charles and Seth DeValve for the reserve tight end spots.
Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals (7PM, NFL Network)
Chargers: Quarterback depth
Philip Rivers is entering his 16th NFL season, and although he still has some gas in the tank, many are wondering what’s next at the quarterback position? Currently, the Chargers have Tyrod Taylor, Cardale Jones, and Easton Stick behind Rivers. Stick was drafted in the 5th round this year out of North Dakota State. He won three national titles with the Bison, and holds the record for the most wins by a starting QB in Division I FCS history. He may or may not be the future for the Bolts, but a 4.62 forty and a resume like his has some heads turning.
Cardinals: Kyler Murray
Everyone will be focused on Kyler Murray when he takes the field Thursday night in the Cardinals’ preseason opener. The debut of Murray in Kliff Kingsbury’s high powered Air Raid attack, might be the most anticipated moment of the NFL preseason. Although the new offensive scheme will be new and exciting in Arizona, Kingsbury is unlikely to reveal too many of his cards prior to the start of the regular season. The challenge for Murray this preseason will be overcoming his size and adjusting to the overall speed of NFL defenses, behind an offensive line that is still a major work in progress.
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks (7PM, FOX12 Oregon)
Broncos: Drew Lock
QB Drew Lock put up a modest 7 of 11 passing for 34 yards and was sacked twice during the Broncos preseason opener against the Falcons. It’s being reported that the Missouri product will be getting significant snaps tonight against the Seahawks. This is a great sign for a guy who has hardly been under center in his life, and is in desperate need of reps in order to learn and operate this new offense. Head coach Vic Fangio says that this season is about putting Lock in a position to learn and grow for the future.
Seahawks: Injuries and the first look at DK Metcalf
Pete Carroll announced that any Seahawks players that are currently battling an injury will likely be kept out of their preseason opener tonight. One player who is not battling an injury and will get his first taste of action, is highly praised wide receiver DK Metcalf. Boasting a 4.33 forty and 40.5 inch vertical, Metcalf’s size, physicality and athleticism makes him an instant threat to defenses this season. Since Metcalf’s roster spot is secure and coaches don’t want to take any unnecessary risks, be sure to tune in early to see him in action.