Insiders

What to Watch For in Second Week of NFL Preseason

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The cobwebs have finally been dusted off, which means we should see better football in the second week of the NFL preseason, at least initially. Most of the rookies have gotten their first taste of the NFL and they should be better equipped to make plays in Week 2.

The most important aspect of the second week is that the starters should see about a quarter of playing time; therefore, we should be able to see at least one quarter of decent football.

The second and third week of the preseason is the most important stretch before the regular season begins because it is where the bulk of the team’s evaluations will take place. This is where players will win starting jobs and it is where the majority of the 53-man roster will take shape.

In the simplest terms, this week is extremely important for everyone outside of the star players on each team.

Now, let’s take a look at what you should look for in the second week of the preseason.

Good Football! At Least For A Quarter

As excited as everyone was for football to be back last week, it was hard to watch. The majority of the games were played by players who will be in the CFL when the regular season begins and it showed. There were countless turnovers, sloppy play and missed assignments that made it almost unwatchable at times.

While the fourth quarter this week will have a similar look to last week, the first portion of each game should look reminiscent of real football. Most of the starters should play at least a quarter, which will be the first real opportunity to evaluate each NFL team. As with anything in the preseason, you must be careful with how much stock you put in the performances of each team, but it is certainly better than training camp practices.

As always, don’t pay attention to the score; instead, pay attention to the individual performances throughout the game. Is the left tackle protecting the quarterback’s blindside? Is the linebacker flowing to the football? Is the defensive tackle getting off blocks? The answers to these questions are way more important than the meaningless minutiae on the scoreboard.

Pay Attention To Special Teams

The case is the same every week of the preseason, special teams are vitally important for the players who will make up the back end of the roster. Most of the players at the bottom of the roster won’t see the field on offense or defense; therefore, they must prove they can make an impact on special teams.

Pay attention to which players are making the tackles during the kickoffs and punts. Those are the players that you may not expect to make the team once final cuts are announced. Also, the preseason is vital for a ton of return men across the NFL. For a large majority of the teams, the kick and punt returns are players who specialize in that area and don’t see much time on offense or defense.

Players to Watch

Pay attention to the players embroiled in a position battle this week as they will likely see a lot of playing time as the coaches try to make a decision on who the starter will be in the coming days.

Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer appear to be neck and neck in their quest to be the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans. Both players put together solid showings in the first week of the preseason and this week will be an opportunity for one of them to separate themselves from the other. Hoyer has the experience, but Mallett has the upside. It will be interesting to see which one wins out in the end.

Also, there is a handful of rookies who are looking to build off their impressive performances last week. Frank Clark was about as dominant as you can be in a preseason game for the Seattle Seahawks. Whether it was against the run or the pass, Clark was in position and made a ton of plays.

Eric Kendricks is another rookie who has made the most of the preseason thus far. He has shown the ability to flow to the ball and get off blocks while also being impressive in coverage for the Minnesota Vikings. Dallas Cowboys guard La’el Collins was dominant as a run blocker, but he will need to be more patient in pass protection this week.

Zach Zenner is fighting to make the Detroit Lions’ roster, but he made the most of his first preseason game. If he can keep playing at a high level, it will be difficult for the Lions to cut him.


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com