We continue with our regular watch list for the preseason games, full of players we’re watching. 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 many veterans – you guys are just too good for that and we know what to expect from them 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.
Here’s who we’ll be watching over the weekend and into Monday:
Houston vs. Carolina (Saturday)
The biggest rookie surprise thus far has been the quick emergence of Keshawn Martin for the Texans. After talking up Lestar Jean all off-season, it seems that it’s Martin who is now making the biggest impression for the Texans. It will be interesting to see how the time is split between Martin, Jean and DeVier Posey. At quarterback, Case Keenum will likely get a shot to prove he belongs in the NFL – we have our doubts on that front. If you’re looking really deep, undrafted running back Jonathan Grimes should make his debut and he’s generating some level of excitement.
For the Panthers, we already know there’s an unsolvable mess at running back. The real story will be the battle for the second receiver spot. Brandon LaFell, David Gettis, Louis Murphy and Seyi Ajirotutu could all be in the mix. Our hope is it goes to Ajirotutu just because it’s so fun to say Seyi Ajirotutu, but he’s a long shot. Jimmy Clausen should get a chance to start resurrecting his value as he still sits behind Derek Anderson on the depth chart – that’s not good.
Tennessee vs. Seattle (Saturday)
Expect a huge ovation for Jake Locker when he enters the game for Tennessee and makes his return to Seattle where he played in college. The quarterback battle between Locker and Matt Hasselbeck should be very fun to watch, but there’s one other player generating serious buzz right now – it’s Taylor Thompson, the raw, but talented tight end. Kendall Wright gets his first chance to impress us as well.
Quarterbacks are the story in Seattle with Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson all gunning for the top spot. Flynn will start and he’s obviously the heavy favorite to win the job. Wilson is going to play the entire second half in an effort to make the Seahawks think twice. We already know what Jackson brings to the table (not much) and it seems Seattle is starting to see it, too. Meanwhile, the receiving corps has around 70 candidates for the 53 man roster, so things will start to shake out. Braylon Edwards and Golden Tate could use a nice showing since Terrell Owens won’t be on the field quite yet – they’re likely battling each other to start opposite Owens or Sidney Rice.
St. Louis vs. Indianapolis (Sunday)
Sam Bradford is praying for some type of emergence in the receiving corps and the battle starts on Sunday. Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Steve Smith, Greg Salas, Brian Quick, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis and Danario Alexander are all in the mix. Who do the Rams think they are, the Seahawks? Meanwhile, we’ll get our first good look at Isaiah Pead. Pead has been a lightning rod for rookie draft controversy, so we need to finally see what he can do.
For the Colts, let’s see. They took someone in the draft, didn’t they? Hmm. Oh yeah, that Andrew Luck fella should get a series or two. The running back battle should be interesting to watch, especially if Donald Brown can’t impress here early in the preseason. At tight end, both rookies (Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen) are attempting to make a big first impression. Like many other teams, the Colts are looking for a second receiver to step up opposite Reggie Wayne as well.
Dallas vs. Oakland (Monday)
We know that Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are the starters in Dallas. However, we also know the third receiver in this offense could prove to be valuable. Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes and a host of others will battle it out. Undrafted running back Ed Wesley will likely attempt to make a solid impression in garbage time – he’s a candidate for the practice squad, but could surprise for Dallas.
For the Raiders, all eyes will be on Darren McFadden, even if he only plays a series or two. Let’s just hope the oft-injured McFadden lasts longer than Ryan Mathews did in his preseason debut. Keep your eye on Rod Streater, who could be a darkhorse candidate to make noise in the receiving corps. too.
It should be a fun few days and those are just a few of the players we’ll have our eyes on.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK