Published August 13, 2010
Buffalo Bills at Washington Redskins (7:30 ET/4:30 PT) What to look for - Bills
The coaches are still working through who will start opposite veteran WR Lee Evans. While third-year pro Steve Johnson is the early leader, former New England Patriots second-round pick Chad Jackson possesses much better speed and athleticism. The competition could heat up this evening. This game will feature the first chance for the fans to get a real look at first-round pick C.J. Spiller. How well he does in the preseason could factor in the team's decision to keep or trade veteran RB Marshawn Lynch. We'll get our first shot to see the new look 3-4 defense against Washington. Both teams switched to a 3-4, but can Buffalo find a pass rush? What to look for - Redskins
While he likely won't play very much, new starting QB Donovan McNabb will have to develop timing with his new receivers. It will be interesting how the coaches will call plays when he's in the game. Will they let McNabb air it out? It certainly appears that RB Clinton Portis will start this season, but fellow veteran RB Larry Johnson has put together a solid training camp thus far. Could Johnson push for serious playing time? Getting off to a good start in this game certainly would help his chances. All eyes will be on Albert Haynesworth in this game. He's second on the depth chart at nose tackle. He's said he wasn't thrilled to play that position, but many personnel evaluators believe he'll also see some time at end in Washington's 3-4 defensive scheme. Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles (7:30 ET/4:30 PT) What to look for - Jaguars
At barely 5-8, second-year WR Mike Thomas is probably better off playing in the slot, but it appears he has already won the other outside receiver job opposite Mike Sims-Walker. It will be interesting to see how Philly lines up against him. Will they give him room or try to get physical with the diminutive receiver? Much has been made of third-year DE Derrick Harvey's progress in training camp, but the former first-round pick will be under the microscope until he does well in a game situation. It all starts for him against Washington. What to look for - Eagles
Obviously, everyone wants to see how Kevin Kolb performs now that he's the starting quarterback, but how the offensive line protects for him might be the bigger issue. Keep an eye on how third-year OL Mike McGlynn, who will be starting at center, does with the center to quarterback exchange. He's essentially the third-string center. This is a big game for rookie WR Chad Hall, who will try to make the team as a punt returner in addition to trying to latch on as a jack-of-all trades receiver/running back. He has tremendous short area quickness, but to make the team, he'll have to do more. In one of the more surprising stories, it appears undrafted free agent Austin Howard is closing to winning the backup left tackle job. So far he's passed every test, but he has to prove he can handle blocking during a real game. The speed of game situations really will be the toughest test for Howard, who started off his collegiate career as a tight end. Third-year DT Trevor Laws has basically been a non-contributor in his first two seasons, but he's put together an outstanding training camp. His progress so far is one of the big reasons why Philadelphia has resisted the desire to sign a veteran at this position for depth. But if he doesn't do well in game situations, things could change quickly. First-round pick DE Brandon Graham is running with the second-team defense, but he's dominated individual drills in camp. He needs to step up his play in team drills in order to take the starting job from veteran Juqua Parker. He could make a big jump if he has a strong game against Jacksonville. Kansas City Chiefs at Atlanta Falcons (8 ET/5 PT) What to look for - Chiefs
If you haven't seen rookie WR Dexter McCluster play, you're missing something. In my nine years of covering Senior Bowl practices, I don't know if I've seen a more exciting offensive player. Interestingly, he played exclusively at running back during Senior Bowl week, but the Chiefs are using more at receiver. McCluster is one of those rare players that can defeat a defense when he's out in space. It will be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Charlie Weis uses him in this game. It will be interesting to see how much shotgun formation they use on offense. Last year at this time, the coaches were reluctant to go with a spread look because of problems on the offensive line. This will be the first chance to get a chance to see first-round pick FS Eric Berry. Will defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel move him around? Most personnel evaluators believed he could play slot cornerback if need be. What to look for - Falcons
One player who should get an extended chance in this game to show what he can do is fifth-round pick Kerry Meier. While some have pegged him as just a slot receiver, Meier could be more than that if given the chance based on his skill set. With starting WR Michael Jenkins out until at least early in the regular season, Meier could get into the rotation sooner rather than later. Atlanta must find more of a pass rush, so second-year DE Lawrence Sidbury will get his chance to get more snaps opposite veteran DE John Abraham. Former first-round pick DE Jamaal Anderson has been a big disappointment as a pass rusher, so Sidbury, who only played in just over 10 percent of the defensive snaps as a rookie, could see much more playing time this season if he can get off to a good start in the preseason games.