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What To Look For In Preseason- Week 1

Take a gander inside to see what you should watch during the first week of the preseason.

John Owning

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Football is finally back, which means the over-analyzation of games that don’t even count is back as well. The preseason is extremely important for teams to get ready for the season, but people try and glean way too much information from the inaugural games of the football season.

This is especially true for the first week of the preseason as the players who will largely be the reason their teams do well or badly will only play a handful of plays. The first preseason game is good for rookies and the back end of the roster players who are trying to make a good first impression on the coaching staff and front office.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you should watch for in the first week of the preseason.

The Score is Meaningless

There are many things you should look for in the preseason, the final score isn’t one of them. It doesn’t matter whether your team wins or loses, especially when 80 percent of the players who play a lot (especially in Week 1) won’t be on the final roster once the season rolls around.

All too often people get upset when their team looks bad or loses a game, and the same can be said for the opposite. The first preseason game is the first time the teams see game action, so expect a lot of issues. This is an opportunity for teams to experiment with certain players and see how their young players react to game situations.

Don’t pay attention to the scores, pay attention to how the players do in certain situations.

Special Teams is Extremely Important

For the vast majority of the players playing in the first preseason game, the only way they are going to make their team is through special teams. Once you get past the starters and key reserves, the other players have to be able to contribute on special teams.

If a player does well on special teams, it will likely weigh more in their coach’s mind then if they do well on offense or defense. Everyone loves to talk about the undrafted free agent who has 8 tackles or runs for 100 yards, but they should really be talking about the guy who blows up a kick return.

Rookies to Watch

The first preseason game is extremely important for the rookies in the NFL. It will be their first taste of game action and it will be a decent gauge to how they will adjust to NFL speed. The jump from college to the NFL is quite a leap and this will be a big opportunity for the players to get acclimated.

The first rookie you should keep an eye on is Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. He may not get a ton of playing time, but it will be the first glimpse we get at the reigning Heisman winner as he tries to transition to an NFL-style offense. There was some big questions as to how Mariota would do against NFL defense and this will be the first glimpse as to how well his talent can translate.

Another rookie who you should keep an eye on is San Fransisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold. With the release of Aldon Smith, Harold will be thrust into a much bigger role than was originally planned.

In college, Harold showcased fantastic quickness and ability to bend around the edge; however, he didn’t have the best hand usage and he struggled to defend the run. Harold looked like a big ball of clay that needed to be molded over time. With Smith’s departure, he will have to get up to speed extremely quickly. The first preseason game will be an opportunity for the former Virginia Cavalier to showcase is athleticism. It will also be interesting to see if he has sured up any of his weaknesses he had in college.

Another rookie who will be someone to watch is Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah. In college, he was a playmaker who was a threat to take the ball for six every time he touched the ball. The former Nebraska Cornhusker’s skill set appeared to be perfect for the NFL as he had the elusiveness and vision to consistently get the most out of carries and catches.

Abdullah could be a player who has a huge first preseason game as he should be able to take advantage of the less than stellar competition. Don’t be surprised if the Lions rookie is the talk of the town after an impressive first week.

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

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