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2022 NFL Preseason, Week 2: One thing to watch for from all 32 teams

On Tuesday this week, NFL rosters were reduced from 90 to 85 players. By next Tuesday, rosters must be down to 80 players.

That's what's at stake as we head into Week 2 of the preseason: Many jobs are on the line, and for some, this week's games will be their last chance to prove themselves to their current teams.

Here are 32 thoughts on what to watch for with this week's preseason slate.

*NFL+ subscribers can watch live out-of-market NFL preseason games across devices. Blackout restrictions apply.


  • 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, NFL+*)
  • Lumen Field (Seattle)

The Seahawks’ quarterback battle looked like it might be shifting -- until that tide quickly swept back. Geno Smith started last week’s preseason opener after receiving most of the first-team reps in camp and was up and down in the first half. Lock got the second half, playing with backups against backups, and fared better overall -- even with a late fumble. That propelled Lock into first-team reps on Tuesday and he was set to start versus Chicago. Until, that is, the team announced Lock tested positive for COVID-19 and would not play in the game. Does a good performance here pretty much guarantee Week 1 starting duties for Smith? Don’t forget the opponent in that one: Russell Wilson and the Broncos. ... Bears QB Justin Fields had a few nice moments in the preseason opener, including an eye-opening completion to Tajae Sharpe where Fields changed the protection and fired a ball only Sharpe could snag. But Fields was hit multiple times (including on the Sharpe catch) and sacked twice in 18 snaps. Fields’ improvement, including a sped-up clock, is great to see. But fixing the Bears’ pass protection is going to be an area of concentration versus Seattle, one safely might assume. 

  • 7 p.m. ET (NFL Network, NFL+*)
  • Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)

We won’t see the main contenders for Carolina’s QB1 spot participate on Friday night, as backups Matt Corral and P.J. Walker will alternate quarters against New England. However, there will be non-QBs worth monitoring, including a potentially nice late-round find from this year’s draft. Sixth-rounder Amaré Barno is off to an encouraging start for the Panthers. He played a key role in two big moments during last week’s preseason opener, recovering an Antonio Gibson fumble in the first quarter and pressuring Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke on a play that culminated in an interception in the second quarter. Barno is a toolsy prospect, but was still available late in the draft after his production declined in his final year with Virginia Tech. He'll need time to develop and work on the fundamentals, but if he continues to bring juice off the edge, the Panthers could be forced to find a spot for him. ... The Patriots’ offensive struggles have been well-documented to this point, so let’s highlight a player who has had a nice camp on the other side of the ball. LB Mack Wilson was a bright spot in the Patriots’ preseason opener against the Giants. He said this offseason that he’s blessed to have a second chance in New England after being traded by the Browns for DE Chase Winovich. We expect an active Wilson in this one, assuming the Patriots play their presumed starters on defense.

  • 8 p.m. ET (NFL+*)
  • Lambeau Field (Green Bay, Wis.)

Could we see Michael Thomas in action for the first time in a game setting in about 20 months? It’s possible. Even if Thomas receives nominal action in Green Bay on Friday, it could be fun watching his live reps, especially if they’re against Packers cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes. Thomas and Saints CB Paulson Adebo reportedly have had some battles in camp, but going up against another team’s DBs -- after two days of joint practices -- could tell us a lot about where Thomas stands heading into his seventh NFL season. ... Aaron Rodgers could also play this week. But we might see a lot more of Jordan Love in this game, coming off a three-pick performance against the 49ers last week. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur basically absolved Love of blame on two of those -- and on part of the third pick. But Love could use another strong outing here. Why? Well, he only has three career preseason starts and one regular season start to his name, and Green Bay must decide next spring whether or not to pick up his fifth-year option. He’s a potential trade candidate, too, if the Packers believe in Rodgers having multiple years left. If Love plays well in the preseason, it could enhance his trade value -- something the team must at least consider.

  • 10 p.m. ET (NFL Network, NFL+*)
  • SoFi Stadium (Los Angeles)

The Texans could be leaning on a lot of young players this season. One who shined in the preseason opener was fourth-round running back Dameon Pierce. He ran for 49 yards on five carries, including 20 yards on his first touch last week versus the Saints. Pierce also made a tackle following an interception, picking himself off the turf and running nearly 40 yards to make the play; that won’t go unnoticed. He has a very good chance to earn a starting role at some point as a rookie, perhaps even right away. The Rams' defense didn’t allow any Chargers RB to run for more than 6 yards on their 18 carries last week. A big game by Pierce here, and the fantasy football folks are going to start licking their chops. ... Rams RBs Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson are currently nursing “soft-tissue injuries,” coach Sean McVay said this week. So it’s possible that we get a dose of Funk this week -- Jake Funk, that is. The 2021 seventh-round back was quiet in the preseason opener, with six carries for 16 yards and a 10-yard grab, but the Rams appear to like him. Another back in the mix is rookie Kyren Williams, who came off the physically unable to perform list last week. It’s unclear if he’ll be able to play on Friday, though.

  • 1 p.m. ET (NFL+*)
  • Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)

Another joint-practice matchup here, as both teams spent the week in Indiana working together. All of the Colts’ offensive starters (minus Jonathan Taylor) saw reps last week. New QB Matt Ryan made some nice throws, but he finished 6-of-10 passing because of a few mistakes by Indianapolis’ receivers. It’s a big week for the Colts' wideouts not named Michael Pittman Jr. We know Pittman can do it, but can anyone else step up? The top candidates include Parris Campbell, rookie Alec Pierce, camp standout Ashton Dulin and Keke Coutee. ... Aidan Hutchinson had a fantastic preseason debut and most certainly looks the part for the Lions so far. He could have a nice rookie-on-rookie matchup against Colts OT Bernhard Raimann, who didn’t start at left tackle (Matt Pryor did -- and struggled) but led the team in snaps last week versus the Bills, playing 48 of a possible 73 snaps. Raimann has had an up-and-down camp and needs all the reps he can get, but a strong showing here could help improve his shot to start as a rookie.

  • 1 p.m. ET (NFL Network, NFL+*)
  • Highmark Stadium (Buffalo, N.Y.)

In last week’s preseason opener, the Broncos sat nearly all of their expected regular-season starters. It could be a different story this week. Might we see Russell Wilson’s first game in orange and blue? It’s possible he gets a series or two. But the focus might need to be on the offensive line and running backs. With backup linemen, the run game produced 39 yards on 22 carries versus Dallas -- and prompted some harsh postgame comments from new head coach Nathaniel Hackett: “That run game was not good enough. It's that simple. I'm not happy with that.” ... The Bills don’t have a lot of major positional battles, but there’s one happening at punter. And boy, did rookie Matt Araiza live up to his reputation in the first preseason game. The man nicknamed “Punt God” ripped off an 82-yarder, netting 62 after it rolled into the end zone last week. Our only regret is that this game is in Buffalo, not Denver at altitude. If Araiza can kick a ball 80-plus close to sea level, imagine what he could do another mile (or so) higher?

  • 4 p.m. ET (NFL Network, NFL+*)
  • GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)

Is there an RB1 competition in Washington? Ron Rivera certainly isn’t downplaying the idea. “There's always been a competition for positions on this team,” Rivera said this week when asked about the situation. It appears Antonio Gibson and rookie Brian Robinson are receiving nearly equal chances in practice and Robinson starred while Gibson fumbled in last week’s game versus Carolina. If Robinson outshines Gibson again in this one, there might be some real smoke to that fire. ... The Chiefs’ opening drive against the Bears last week gave us a snapshot of what Kansas City’s offense might look like this season: more multiple and more contributors. Last season, nearly 45% of Patrick Mahomes’ passes went to either Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce; obviously, that will change this season with Hill gone. In the 11-play TD drive at Chicago, seven Chiefs touched the ball -- and that doesn’t include JuJu Smith-Schuster, the assumed WR1. Running back Isiah Pacheco -- wearing Hill’s old No. 10 -- got an early touch and had a 34-yard kickoff return. He has been a star in camp. In fact, Pacheco is getting reps ahead of free-agent signee Ronald Jones and could be in line for steady regular-season touches.

  • 7 p.m. ET (NFL Network, NFL+*)
  • Nissan Stadium (Nashville, Tenn.)

It's Tom Brady's team versus Mike Vrabel, whose Titans knocked Brady's Patriots out of the playoffs in his final game with New England. It’s Julio Jones versus the team that cut him this offseason. It’s the Aaron Stinnie Revenge Game, for crying out loud. But it’s also the preseason, so our expectations must be tamped a bit. Instead, let’s highlight the battle of non-first-round backup QBs in need of some confidence-boosting reps. Kyle Trask turned in a good performance in the Bucs’ loss last week, and with Brady out indefinitely, there should be plenty more opportunities versus Tennessee. Head coach Todd Bowles said he wanted to see if Trask would show “moxie” and whether or not he’d “panic,” but Bowles said Trask “passed a lot of those tests, so he’ll get more" against the Titans. Malik Willis’ Titans debut wasn’t quite as seamless, as he was benched after 11 passes because Vrabel said the rookie QB didn’t throw the ball enough. We’ll venture to guess that number goes up against the Bucs' secondary.

  • 7 p.m. ET (NFL+*)
  • U.S. Bank Stadium (Minneapolis)

The 49ers are not planning to play Minnesota native Trey Lance against the Vikings, per head coach Kyle Shanahan (who was also born in Minnesota, joking this week that he lived there about “14 days” before the family moved). Right now, the biggest concern for San Francisco might be health in the secondary. Safety Jimmie Ward has a hamstring injury that could sideline him in Week 1; CB Emmanuel Moseley also has battled a hamstring injury, and CB Charvarius Ward (groin) might miss this week’s game. Young DBs must step up at a spot where depth appears quite thin at the moment. ... Will Kirk Cousins play? He was out last week with COVID-19 but returned to practice this week. Remember, this is a new offense for everyone, so he might benefit from live reps versus a good defense. At some point, Kellen Mond will come in at QB, likely with a chance to win the backup job. After a shaky camp, Mond delivered a much-needed good performance in the preseason opener. Another strong outing could put some distance between him and Sean Mannion, who struggled against the Raiders last week.

  • 7 p.m. ET (NFL+*)
  • TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Steelers QB Mitchell Trubisky remains the favorite to start for Pittsburgh in Week 1, but all three candidates for the job (including rookie Kenny Pickett) played well last week. So we’re not at all ready to call this one yet. It’s apples to kumquats, but let’s look back at the Mac Jones-Cam Newton QB battle in New England last summer. It wasn’t until late August, following joint practices with the Giants, that Jones pulled ahead of Newton fully in that race. We’re still a week away on the calendar from a similar point in the Steelers’ battle. If Pickett lights up the Jaguars (and, let’s say, Trubisky struggles), this debate could change quickly. ... But there’s another Steelers offensive storyline you might want to pay attention to. WR George Pickens has been opening eyes all summer in camp, and he kept it going in the game versus the Seahawks, snagging Trubisky’s first pass of the game and later catching a TD from Mason Rudolph. How do the Steelers draft wide receivers at, like, an 89% success rate? It’s uncanny. We’ll be watching Pickens against Jacksonville, especially if he’s matched up with his former Georgia teammate, Jaguars CB Tyson Campbell, who has rendered receivers “Chick-fil-A on Sunday” (translation: not open) through much of camp.

  • 7 p.m. ET (NFL+*)
  • Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)

This is a battle of new, offensive-minded head coaches Josh McDaniels and Mike McDaniel. We might also get to see both teams’ starting quarterbacks, Derek Carr and Tua Tagovailoa, after each have sat out the preseason to this point. Carr seems energized in the new offense, although the Raiders’ OL issues might keep his night short if they want him healthy for Week 1. Tagovailoa has quieted some of his ubiquitous critics with some steady practices to the point where McDaniel didn’t feel the need to play his full set of starters last week. Perhaps Tua and noted Raiders tormenter Tyreek Hill get at least one chance to connect on a deep throw in this game. But we’ll also be monitoring the usage of Dolphins wide receivers Lynn Bowden and Preston Williams, both of whom have reportedly been floated in trade talks. Bowden, who was drafted by the Raiders in 2020, either helped his case to earn a spot on the roster or be moved elsewhere versus the Buccaneers last week with two catches of 20-plus yards -- including a TD grab -- an 18-yard punt return and a 26-yard kickoff return in limited snaps.

  • 10 p.m. ET (NFL Network, NFL+*)
  • SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)

Dallas had far more penalties (17) in the preseason opener versus Denver than it did points (seven). Both areas need cleaning up, clearly, especially after the Cowboys drew more flags than any other team a season ago. But the big issue on offense might be at receiver. With Amari Cooper and Ced Wilson gone, Michael Gallup expected to miss at least Week 1 and James Washington (broken foot) out indefinitely, wideouts not named CeeDee Lamb, who is currently dealing with a cut on his foot, must step up. Third-rounder Jalen Tolbert has looked good so far, and undrafted Dennis Houston has received first-team reps in camp. Noah Brown is another option, but he’s in Year 6 and hasn’t had more than a 16-catch season in his first five. The sleeper might be 2021 fifth-rounder Simi Fehoko, who has come on and could be a red-zone weapon. ... Justin Herbert has never taken a preseason snap. We don’t believe he will in this one either. We also might not see what could be the best rush duo in the NFL this season with Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. But another rusher, Chris Rumph II, had a sack, multiple pressures and some good run stops last week versus the Rams. If Rumph keeps this up, the Chargers might have the best rush trio in the league. He’ll look to find gaps in a Dallas offensive line that was guilty of seven of those penalties last week.

  • 1 p.m. ET (NFL Network, NFL+*)
  • FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)

Following the news Thursday that Deshaun Watson has been suspended for the first 11 games of the regular season, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters Watson -- whose suspension begins on Aug. 30 -- will not play again this preseason. Stefanski had previously said that presumptive Week 1 starter Jacoby Brissett would not play against Philadelphia. It appears the other QBs on the roster (Joshua Dobbs and Josh Rosen) are in for an extended look in this game after Watson played nine snaps in the preseason opener. The spot on the depth chart behind Brissett has taken on added importance, as well. ... For the Eagles, I’ll be eyeing former first-round OT Andre Dillard, who just returned to practice from a concussion -- and promptly got into a few practice scuffles with teammates. Dillard is a potential trade candidate who just so happens to play behind Jordan Mailata, one of the best young tackles in the league. Do the Eagles showcase Dillard in the preseason for a possible trade? His usage here might tell us much.

  • 7 p.m. ET (NFL Network, NFL+*)
  • MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)

Bengals QB Joe Burrow has returned to practice following his appendectomy, giving the Queen City some much-needed relief. Burrow has said he doesn't anticipate playing in the preseason, and the concussion suffered by backup Brandon Allen in last week’s preseason opener could lead to a very shallow QB pool for Cincinnati. The only other quarterbacks on the roster are Jake Browning and Drew Plitt, both of whom performed moderately well last week versus Arizona. Plitt completed all six of his pass attempts. ... The Giants’ QB situation is vastly different. They have healthy bodies but far bigger questions. New head coach Brian Daboll now says he might want to get Tyrod Taylor some first-team reps. Hmm. When I suggested a few weeks back that Daniel Jones’ starting gig might not be ironclad, there was some blowback from readers -- understandable. Yet, here we are heading into the second preseason game, and Daboll seems to be altering the course just a little bit. How Jones and Taylor fare, even against a less-than-complete Bengals defense, might offer us even more perspective on the Giants’ future plans.

  • 8 p.m. ET (FOX, NFL+*)
  • State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray isn’t playing on Sunday and he won't be taking any snaps in Arizona's preseason finale next week at Tennessee, either. That likely means more doses of Trace McSorley and Jarrett Guarantano versus Baltimore. But will Murray call plays again in this one, after Kliff Kingsbury gave him the wheel in last week’s fourth quarter? It doesn’t appear so, sadly. “I enjoyed it, but once you call the play, it's out of your control,” Murray said this week. ... The Ravens have suddenly been hit by injuries at wide receiver. Rashod Bateman, James Proche and Devin Duvernay -- arguably the team’s best three wideouts -- did not play in last week's preseason opener against Tennessee. Tylan Wallace and two longer shots to make the team, undrafted Slade Bolden and USFL vet Bailey Gaither, all got hurt last week, putting the Ravens in a tough spot at receiver versus the Titans. Yet UDFAs Shemar Bridges, Makai Polk, Raleigh Webb, Binjimen Victor and Jaylon Moore all made plays last week, which was a good sign. Maybe one or two could land on the opening 53-man roster if the Ravens don’t make a move for a veteran wideout. This game could be crucial for sorting out that position. 

  • 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, NFL+*)
  • MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)

Joe Flacco suddenly has been thrust into the spotlight once more. With Zach Wilson’s knee injury clouding his availability for Week 1, there’s a non-zero chance Flacco will be starting for the first time against his former Ravens mates in the regular season opener. But first, there’s this game, where Flacco could receive work after sitting out the preseason opener. A prime-time game against Atlanta could be our first chance to see Flacco and the Jets’ new, shiny offensive toys take the field -- for a series or two, anyway. ... The Falcons have plenty of questions, but running back might not be one of them. In addition to do-it-all starter Cordarrelle Patterson, there’s veteran Damien Williams, rookie Tyler Allgeier and Qadree Ollison, who stood out in the preseason opener at Detroit with five carries for 33 yards. Allgeier was even better per touch, averaging 8.3 yards per carry. Head coach Arthur Smith continues to say that Allgeier is still learning the offense, but one play against the Lions displayed some maturity and impact. Allgeier didn’t touch the ball on Desmond Ridder’s game-winning TD pass to converted lacrosse star Jared Bernhardt, but the rookie back stepped up and picked up a blitz, allowing Ridder to make the completion. More of that type of play against the Jets, and Allgeier could earn a trusted role this season sooner rather than later.

Follow Eric Edholm on Twitter.

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