It’s finally here.
After 184 days and no less than 278 off-season articles posted on the pages of DLF, football is finally back as the preseason really kicks off tonight. We’re planning on posting a regular watch list for the preseason games, full of players we have our eyes on. For premium subscribers, we also have the ultimate preseason index of players to watch, a 6,000 word write-up with a player from every team who we have our eyes on.
If you’re here at DLF, you know we won’t waste your time talking about players like Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick or Tom Brady – you guys are just too good for that and we know what to expect from the veterans anyway. Instead, we’ll be focusing our attention on the rookies and some of the deep sleepers we’ve been looking forward to seeing in action.
Let’s take a look at Thursday’s schedule and who we’re looking forward to seeing the most.
Washington vs. Buffalo
For the Redskins, all eyes will be on Robert Griffin III’s debut. While he may only play a series or two, we’ll get our first glimpse of him and the revamped receiving corps of the Redskins. The real story from Redskins camp lately has been the sudden rise of Evan Royster on the depth chart, as multiple reports are surfacing that Washington views him in higher regard than Roy Helu. To prove it may not be a fluke, it’s Royster, not Helu who will get the start tonight. Don’t say we didn’t tell you so, but this story is far from over. On another rookie quarterback note, it will be nice to see Kirk Cousins in action to evaluate if he’s worth a spot on a deep roster.
In Buffalo, the battle for the second receiver spot is on as Derek Hagan, David Nelson, Donald Jones, T.J. Graham and Marcus Easley all find themselves in the mix. The initial reports on Vince Young have been predominantly awful, so the curiosity level is raised there as well.
Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia
Mike Wallace continues his holdout, so it would be nice to see Emmanuel Sanders take advantage. Isaac Redman may not play too much, but he could put some Steelers minds at ease with a good series or two. Jonathan Dwyer is running out of time to make a great impression and he could carve out a role with a nice preseason.
For the Eagles, it will most certainly be an emotional night as Andy Reid returns to the sidelines following the passing of his son earlier this week. The running backs will be clearly be in focus for the Eagles as the battle to back up LeSean McCoy will begin between Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. On the receiving side of things, Marvin McNutt has had a nice camp so far and the team would love to see that translate to the field.
New Orleans vs. New England
We’ve already seen the Saints in action as they opened in the Hall of Fame Game. Don’t expect to see much more of the starters, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any story lines here. The Saints are still looking for someone to step up at receiver and the injury to Adrian Arrington could open the door for a youngster to make the roster. Speaking of youngsters, Travaris Cadet made a nice impression on Sunday and should see a lot of action.
For the Patriots, we pretty much know how the depth chart is going to shake out at every position outside of running back. Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and even rookie Brandon Bolden have all received some positive press as of late. Ridley seems to have the lead, but anything could happen here and the preseason will go a long way in determining who the best running back play will be for the Patriots this year.
Baltimore vs. Atlanta
For the Ravens, La’Quan Williams and Tommy Streeter should get a lot of action. It will be nice to see Tyrod Taylor at the helm again as well – he played exceptionally well in preseason games last year and could cement himself as a solid project player in dynasty leagues with a strong 2012 preseason performance as well.
For the Falcons, there’s no doubt that Jacquizz Rodgers is on the minds of dynasty owners. The Falcons seem poised to give him a huge role this season and he could seriously eat into Michael Turner’s value. Julio Jones won’t play more than a series or two, but would anyone be shocked if he scored tonight?
Green Bay vs. San Diego
We know who will be the starting quarterback for the Packers this year and the receiving corps is fairly set as well. However, much like many other teams we’ve talked about, running back is a question mark. James Starks is the starter for now, but Alex Green, Brandon Saine and even rookie Marc Tyler have their eyes on playing time.
For the Chargers, they’re pretty much set. The receiving corps has been completely revamped after the loss of Vincent Jackson to Tampa Bay. The later preseason games will likely give us a better idea if Robert Meachem and company can carry the torch, though. The player we have our eye on the most is Ladarius Green. Can he be the eventual replacement for Antonio Gates?
Denver vs. Chicago
Let’s see, the Broncos have a new quarterback, don’t they? There are a ton of other offensive players who are going to be interesting to watch for a variety of reasons including Ronnie Hillman, Brock Osweiler, Knowshon Moreno, Andre Caldwell, Eric Decker and Jacob Tamme.
For the Bears, the revamped offense should be in full effect, though don’t expect to see much of Brandon Marshall or Jay Cutler. We should get our first extended look at Alshon Jeffrey, though.
Those are just a few of the names we’ll be watching. Who are you looking forward to seeing the most as the preseason gets underway?