Week 3 of the NFL Preseason is typically the week that the starters stay in the game the longest. The 'tune-up' game for the regular season. So while some former Mountaineers would see a few quarters of playing time during the second half of the first two preseason games, some might only see about a quarter's length of playing time. With others, like rookies Robert Sands and J.T. Thomas, we'll get a better idea of where they fit into the rotation and what packages you can expect to see them play. The first round of roster cuts is next week.
Before we get to the previews of this week's games, I have a bit of news to report about Anthony Becht. Becht played 10 years in the league with the Jets, Cardinals, and Buccaneers. He was cut before last season by the Cards in a cost-cutting move, and spent time doing radio broadcasts in the Tampa Bay region during last season. Over the summer, he participated in an NFL Boot Camp that taught former NFL players how they can get into the television broadcast side of the NFL. Just before the preseason began, he told me that he would play again if he received the opportunity. He tried out for a few teams since training camps began. Today, the Kansas City Chiefs signed him to a one-year deal. Leonard Pope is in his sixth season and is the Chiefs returning starter at TE, and Becht will be looked upon to add depth at that position.
Now on to the previews of this week's games.
Thursday, August 25
Carolina Panthers vs.
The big news surrounding this game is that Ron Rivera named #1 Draft pick, Cam Newton, to start. This game will receive a lot of attention for that reason. Robert Sands will play in his third game for the Bengals, but the depth chart at safety became more crowded for the Bengals after they acquired S Taylor Mays from the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Bengals coaches have given Sands time to learn both safety positions, but after Mays reported to the Bengals this week, it was noted that Sands was seeing an increase in playing time at free-safety. Sands struggled on pre-snap reads last week, and was burned at least once in the passing game after he played for the run. We will see if focusing Sands at free-safety this week will provide better results. Earlier this week, Adam Pacman Jones, was cleared to practice
and may play in next week's Preseason finale. For the Panthers, Brandon Hogan has still not been cleared to practice and may not play this season. **Update** Pacman has not started practicing yet, and may begin the season on the PUP list.
Cleveland Browns vs.
After two dreadful performances, Jarrett Brown's assured place on the Browns' active roster isn't so assured. He has performed very well in camp, but that hasn't translated into live game action. The Browns may decide to stock up on receivers and tight ends on the final roster, and only carry two quarterbacks into the regular season. Browns' head coach, Pat Schurmur, is high on Brown, but believes he has much to learn before he's ready for regular season action. They may stash Brown on the practice squad so they can monitor his development. Owen Schmitt should see the most action of his preseason thus far.
Washington Redskins vs.
Chris Neild is in a situation similar to that of Jarrett Brown: he's NFL capable, but maybe not NFL ready. The Redskins see Neild as a potential run-stuffer. He gives 100% effort on every play during a game and a practice. The knock on him, and what scouts said before the Draft, is that Neild lacks the lateral quickness needed at the NFL level. At this point, the Redskins may choose experience over age when deciding what to do with Neild. They may place him on the practice squad, let him develop for a few months, and bring him up to the active roster mid-season. Selvish Capers has struggled this preseason, and may not make the team.
Friday, August 26
Green Bay Packers vs.
Pat McAfee is the leading punter in the preseason. After the season is over, McAfee is going to cut his hair off and donate it to Locks of Love to benefit cancer research.
Saturday, August 27
Jacksonville Jaguars vs.
Corey McIntyre has been excused from Bills practice the last few days for personal reasons, and his status to play at the time of the writing is unknown. Sidney Glover had nice game for the Bills last week with a couple tackles and a nice pass breakup.
N.Y. Jets vs.
7:00 **UPDATED**- This game has been moved to Monday night at 7:00 due to Hurricane Irene.
Darius Reynaud returned to practice on Wednesday for the Giants after sitting out last week's game with a hamstring injury. He has been one of the surprises for the Giants in training camp at WR after being used almost exclusively as a kick returner last season. Ellis Lankster had 2 tackles last week for the Jets.
Atlanta Falcons vs.
Mortty Ivy is making a grab at one of the linebacker positions that is available on the final roster. The Steelers have one of the best linebacking corps in the league, so a spot on the roster learning from the likes of James Harrison, Larry Foote, James Farrior, and LaMarr Woodley would be a great opportunity for Ivy. He has made plays in games, scrimmages, and in practices during the Preseason, and Mike Tomlin has said that if a player shows well on tapes and in the games, they will find a roster spot for them. Ryan Mundy is one of the Steelers' leading tacklers in the preseason as he solidifies his role on the team. Also, look to see if Wes Lyon's strong practices carry over into this week;s game.
Miami Dolphins vs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jock Sanders has had a nice preseason for the Bucs as he competes for the starting kick return job.
Chicago Bears vs.
The Bears have been impressed with J.T. Thomas' development in camp, and after missing the first game of the preseason, Thomas looks to build upon a solid effort in his debut last week. He will see time on special teams and it will be interesting to see how the Bears use him in the linebacker rotation against the Titans.
Houston Texans vs.
San Francisco 49ers
After an initial strong showing in camp, Steve Slaton has had a hamstring injury that has kept him out of the first two Preseason games. With a crowded backfield, Slaton's injury has left him out of the discussion at RB for the Texans. Will the Texans try to trade Slaton? We may find the answer to that this week. Scooter Berry recovered a fumble and returned it for 23 yards last week. The Texans list Berry as a DE, but plays him more at NT and DT.
Check back next Tuesday, August 30 for a Wrapup of Preseason Week 3. Enjoy the games this weekend.