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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.
After watching the debuts of Robert Griffin III and Peyton Manning last night, getting a scare with Michael Vick and getting awful news on Ryan Mathews, we’re ready for day two.
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 on Friday:
Cleveland vs. Detroit
With Trent Richardson on the mend, it’s time for Montario Hardesty to finally put his own injuries behind him and start playing well for the Browns. A solid preseason for Hardesty would make him the unquestioned handcuff to Richardson. We’ll also get our first glimpse at rookies Brandon Weeden and Josh Gordon. It would be great to see the two of them build some nice chemistry early so we can see if the hype on Gordon is justified.
For the Lions, it will be quite the story if Ryan Broyles can actually see the field this soon after ACL injury – there are conflicting reports as to if he’ll actually play. Meanwhile, the Lions have to find some type of rhythm with their running game because it looks like a mess right now.
NY Giants vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
For the Giants, we’ll have a close eye on David Wilson to see how he fares in his battle with Ahmad Bradshaw for playing time. The battle for the third receiver job behind Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks will also be a preseason battle to watch and that begins tonight. We’ll also get a good look at tight end project Adrien Robinson.
For the Jags, they simply have to get something positive from Blaine Gabbert. A score. A drive. A completed pass. Anything positive will be great to see as his value has hit rock bottom. By all accounts, Laurent Robinson has had a poor camp, so his owners have to be hoping something clicks here soon. Unfortunately, we won’t see Justin Blackmon quite yet. Rashad Jennings should get some time with MJD out as well and he should look completely healthy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Miami Dolphins
The quarterback battle begins in Miami, but it certainly looks like it’s David Garrard’s job to lose. Regardless, it will be fun to see Ryan Tannehill in his first live action. Lamar Miller has had a strong camp after his unbelievable plummet in the NFL Draft and owners who took a chance on him are salivating to see what he can do. The receiver battle should be a good one to watch in Miami as well and it’s wide open at the moment.
For Tampa Bay, Josh Freeman won’t play much, but his owners sure would love to see some type of rapport with Vincent Jackson. The real player to watch for the Bucs will undoubtedly be Doug Martin, who is trying to wrestle the starting running back job away from incumbent LeGarrette Blount. Martin’s debut will be a huge story on Friday night.
New York Jets vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Of course, you have to mention Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, but the running backs are the real story here in terms of dynasty leagues. Shonn Greene has been talked up over the past two weeks, but color us skeptical. Friday will be a huge opportunity for Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell to make the Jets consider some changes.
For the Bengals, the second wide receiver battle is a big story. Armon Binns, Brandon Tate, Mohamed Sanu and even Marvin Jones could be in the running to start opposite AJ Green. The winner of this battle is going to have some value and it’s simply too close to call. It’s also going to be interesting to see just how the Bengals mix and match BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott on their first drive or two – that could give us an indication of how they may use them this year.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Kansas City Chiefs
If Ryan Williams makes his debut, that’s going to be the story for the Cardinals. In addition, Kevin Kolb has to get something going here very quickly or John Skelton is going to take his job. The job opposite Larry Fitzgerald is still open as well, with Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd in the mix.
For the Chiefs, all eyes will be on Jamaal Charles. He just needs to get on the field and see some snaps to make his owners feel much, much better.
Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers
For the Vikings, Christian Ponder needs to show some quick improvement and the first few series for the Vikings are going to be important tonight. With Greg Childs out for the year and Jerome Simpson facing suspension, someone needs to step up in the receiving corps as well. It will be interesting to see if Joe Webb can make something happen when he gets on the field – it seems that something good happens every time he finds himself in a game.
For the 49ers, it’s all about the skill positions. We pretty much know what Alex Smith can do, but how exactly are the 49ers going to distribute touches between Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Brandon Jacobs, Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Vernon Davis? It’s a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem. We may see an indication of what they may do as early as tonight.
It’s a fun time of the year, so keep it here at DLF where we’re working around the clock to bring you our best.