The most important week of the preseason is upon us. This third week is sure to bring some clarity to key position battles and burst the some bubbles of hopeful players trying to latch on to a coveted 53-man NFL roster. With that in mind, here are thirty players who need to have great performances for a variety of different reasons:
Ryan Grant, RB GB
James Starks is having a fine camp and is starting to really push Grant for an equal timeshare. While rumors were swirling that Grant could be released, we find that hard to believe since they’ve already guaranteed a portion of his contract. Grant needs a big week to sew up the starting gig.
Tarvaris Jackson, QB SEA
He’s looked awful thus far. Another clunker of a game and Charlie Whitehurst will be taking the first snap in week one.
Donald Brown, RB IND
Delone Carter and Darren Evans have been pushing him for the backup job to Addai. Who wins?
Javon Ringer, RB TEN
It’s going to be interesting to see if Ringer or Jamie Harper start this week. Whoever does could very likely be the week one starter for Tennessee if Chris Johnson continues to hold out.
Casey Matthews, LB PHI
Matthews has been a disappointment at MLB so far for the new look Eagles. If he fails to impress again, look for Jamar Chaney to be re-inserted.
CJ Spiller, RB BUF
Who knows what the Bills are doing at running back. Fred Jackson starts week one, then Spiller starts week two, then Jackson is promised to start week three. What we do know so far is that Spiller has been a serious buzzkill.
Stevan Ridley, RB NE
You never know how long the Pats will play their starters, but we could get a really good indication if Ridley is in their regular season plans if he’s sprinkled in with the big boys – he’s been great thus far in the preseason.
Cam Newton, QB CAR
He should be named the starter with a good performance. Is that a good thing?
Mike Sims-Walker, WR STL
He’s catching everything in camp, does it translate into a game?
Chris Wells, RB ARI
He’s now the clear starter in Arizona with Ryan Williams on the shelf. Does he lay back or step up?
Alex Smith, QB SF
He just simply continues to be underwhelming. How short can the leash get with another poor performance?
Braylon Edwards, WR SF
The 49ers are trying to integrate him into their offense, but it hasn’t really clicked so far.
Tim Tebow, QB DEN
Fairly or unfairly, Tebow has been on the biggest dynasty value roller coaster the past few weeks. He really needs to show the Broncos something. It’s just hard to say if he even gets in the game, though.
John Beck, QB WAS
Another solid performance will lock up his designation as the worst starting quarterback in the league.
Reggie Bush, RB MIA
Can this really happen?
Felix Jones, RB DAL
This is happening.
Ben Tate, RB HOU
After an impressive debut, he could push Steve Slaton or Derrick Ward right off the roster.
Knowshon Moreno, RB DEN
We should have a pretty good idea of how Denver is going to use Moreno and Willis McGahee after this week.
Plaxico Burress, WR NYJ
Was that first game a fluke, or is he going to actually be an option this season?
Denarius Moore, WR OAK
The camp darling gets one more crack to make a case to be in the starting lineup on opening day.
Marion Barber, RB CHI
He’s looked rejuvenated thus far in Chicago. Can he really become a threat to take some of the load off Matt Forte?
Jerome Harrison, RB DET
He has to show something to make the Lions believe they have some insurance behind Jahvid Best.
Kendall Hunter, RB SF
Another good night from Hunter and he should pass Dixon on the depth chart to back up Frank Gore.
Jimmy Graham, TE NO
He’s been a little too quiet in camp thus far. Let’s see a nice outing to confirm what we think we know about him.
Andre Roberts, WR ARI
Seems like this should be the week where he separates himself from the bunch, doesn’t it?
Dezmon Briscoe, WR TB
He’s been really impressive thus far. Arrelious Benn needs to get healthy quickly to get his job back.
Kevin Kolb, QB ARI
Does anyone else feel like this just doesn’t seem to be the match made in heaven that most believe?
Brandon Jacobs, RB NYG
Another big tilt from Jacobs and Bradshaw could be the “1B” and not the “1A.”
Marques Colston, WR NO
We’re beginning to question just how healthy he is.
Roy Williams, WR CHI
We’re beginning to question how much he can eat.
Roy Helu, RB WAS
A big game from Helu should cement his roster spot and push Evan Royster to the practice squad – it could even make Ryan Torain a little nervous about making this team.
Jacoby Ford, WR OAK
He’s healthy again, now let’s see him regain that late season form.
Kerry Collins, QB IND
Will he actually get some reps?
Victor Cruz, WR NYG
Looks like this should be the week where the Giants 3rd WR is decided. The loser may have to play cornerback.
Colt McCoy, QB CLE
You can’t put too much stock in the preseason, but you can’t put too little, either. He has simply looked like a completely different player so far. Another big game and his owners will feel great about his future.
Those are just 35 players we’ll be keeping a close eye one. Who will you be watching?
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