Week Two of preseason means coaches will be giving more players longer looks. Some vets will also see action, while others will remain on the sidelines. Here are players to eyeball as the preseason hits its halfway point … and the regular season can’t come soon enough.
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One of the three first-round picks of the Raiders, Josh Jacobs has become a fantasy darling before he has had a professional carry. It will be fascinating to watch as the former Alabama star goes from an RB who saw 120 carries — his college-high — as a junior to potentially the bell cow for the Silver and Black. On one side, he has plenty of tread left on his tires, on the other he hasn’t taken the kind of pounding a No. 1 RB faces. Jon Gruden has been coy about whether Jacobs will play when the Raiders face the Cardinals on Thursday and how much he action he will see in the preseason: “We have to use this as preseason, in some ways,” Gruden said last week when asked about his plans for Jacobs’ preseason work. “We’re not going to go out and give Josh Jacobs 35 or 40 carries in August. But he carried the ball a lot in the last two days. I think you see vision, you see patience and you see burst. And what you haven’t seen is live, full-speed tackling, and, hopefully, he gets a couple shots in August, but our fans will to have to wait to see most of that when the (Denver) Broncos come to town (for the first regular-season game on Sept. 9).”.
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The Jets found themselves in a kicking quandary when Chandler Cantazaro decided to retire after missing a pair of PATs in their first preseason game against the Giants. Into the fold came Taylor Bertolet, who lost a kicking battle to Jason Myers in Gang Green training camp in 2018. The Jets play the Falcons on Thursday and Bertolet, who played college ball at Texas A&M, will get his test. While he was not in the league last season, he was getting a graduate degree in sports psychology. Will them help or hinder a kicker? Bertolet, made 9-of-4 field goals in the defunct AAF, with four from more than 50 yards.
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The Eagles have gone from a deep quarterback roster to having to hope Carson Wentz stays healthy in 2019. Nick Foles is in Jacksonville. Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist last week. That leaves Cody Kessler as the backup. “Cody has played games,” head coach Doug Pederson said over the weekend. “He started games in this league. He’s a guy that’s has great toughness, as we saw the other night, and has really embraced the offense. He’s in a good position.” Overall, he was 0-8 as a starter for the Browns in 2016, saw little action in ’17, and went 2-2 for Jacksonville last year. Kessler was 3-for-6 for 12 yards in the preseason opening loss to Tennessee. He’s gonna have to show more than that for the Eagles not to get restless until Sudfeld is able to return a few weeks into the regular season.
After losing QB Nate Sudfeld to a broken bone above his left wrist, Eagles lost his his backup Cody Kessler to a potential concussion. Now left with Clayton Thorson playing QB vs Jaguars, with backup QB questions for this summer.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 15, 2019
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Washington’s quarterback situation is more fluid than stable. There are veterans Colt McCoy and Case Keenum. And then there is first-round pick Dwayne Haskins out of Ohio State, who has been penciled in as the third-stringer to start. Washington faced the Bengals on Thursday and Haskins must do better than the 8-for-14 with two picks that he threw in the opener against Cleveland if he hopes to be considered for serious playing time early in the season.
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There is no question who the Niners’ starting quarterback is. The question is whether Jimmy Garoppolo’s surgically repaired knee will hold up in 2019. San Francisco plays Denver Monday night and all eyes will be on Tom Brady’s former backup for as long as he is in the game. “I expect him to definitiely play (exhibitions) two and three, but nothing is mapped out and set in stone,” Shanahan said last week.
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Hard to believe the former Bronco bust would be on a list like this, but Chad Kelly played nicely in the Colts’ first preseason game. He went 13-of-19 for 121 yards and ran for another 53, including a 31-yard TD run. Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett are a 1-2 punch at QB. Will Kelly make a solid enough impression to outlast Temple’s Phillip Walker for a potential third spot?
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The presence of Kaare Vedvik has to turn up the pressure on Matt Wile. There is no guarantee Vedvik will be the placekicker for Minnesota, despite his 4-for-4 performance last week as a Raven. However, when you trade a draft pick for a kicker/punter one has to assume the team has plans for him. Wile cut himself during last week’s preseason opener against New Orleans. “It was just kind of a freak thing that happened on the sideline,” he told Twincities.com. “It happened right before the first punt. I slashed my thumb open (on a kicking device). We put a little gauze on it really fast and ran out there for the first punt and we had to go on to the locker room afterwards to stitch it up.” Now, he has to hope one cut doesn’t lead to the unkindest cut … a visit from the turk.
Darrell Henderson, Rams
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The backup role for the Rams behind Todd Gurley could become huge in an instant. The superstar running back has raised all sorts of questions about an arthritic knee. Darrell Henderson was a third-round pick out of Memphis and should see considerable action against Dallas. “You want to give him some touches, you want to put him in some situations and see how he handles it. I thought there was some good and there were somethings that we have to improve on, and I think he’s a really conscientious player – doesn’t really get fazed by things,” Sean McVay said on Sunday. “But there were some, just little subtle things about the game. Whether it’s when you’re picking up internal pressure, not lining up in a position where the ball ricochets off your leg. You know, just being consistent when we are in the dot (formation), lining up right behind the center, so those are things.”
Everyone wants to have their version of Taysom Hill it seems. Now, Zac Taylor and the Bengals have quarterback Jeff Driskel lining up at wideout and playing special teams in practice. This could mean Ryan Finley is ahead of Driskel or Taylor wants to see what options he has. “I think tomorrow, we’re going to take a look at Driskel on special teams as well. He’s a weapon,” Taylor said. “He’s got good size. He’s got great speed, the athleticism. So don’t be surprised tomorrow if you see him kind of wrinkled in there a little bit in some other phases.”
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The Chiefs’ rookie has been getting looks with the starters, pretty heady stuff for a sixth-rounder. Kansas City meets Pittsburgh Saturday and expect the rookie from Utah State to continue to get playing time off a 51-yard, one-TD effort in the opener. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 …10