Thursday night gave us our first real look at the 2012 NFL preseason, with six games and 12 teams starting their respective exhibition schedules. On Friday, we get six more games and 12 more teams to digest.
Here's what to watch for in the Friday slate of games:
No backup quarterback in the history of the game has commanded such a media following as Tim Tebow. Friday marks the beginning of the madness that will be the Jets' quarterback situation in 2012. Will cries for Tebow to be the starter begin by Saturday morning? Or earlier?
Green, then who?
2011 first-round pick A.J. Green is the Bengals' clear No. 1 receiver, but who starts opposite him to start Week 1 of the regular season is still up in the air. Former Patriots receiver and return man Brandon Tate gets the first shot Friday night. Challenges from Mohammed Sanu, Marvin Jones and Armon Binns are sure to follow.
It's His Time
The Browns have been through a long list of disappointments at the quarterback position since re-joining the NFL in 1999. First-round pick Brandon Weeden looks to reverse that trend, starting Friday. However, he'll be without fellow first-round pick Trent Richardson, who is out after getting his knee scoped Thursday. A good start from Weeden would help calm the worries.
Forget the Offseason
Head coach Jim Schwartz has a nasty offseason to put behind his club. Several arrests led to two cuts and two (likely) suspensions to start 2012. The preseason doesn't count for anything in the grand scheme of things, but the Lions need to start the process of forgetting their forgettable offseason.
The Giants play their first real game Friday since knocking off the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. This is a team deep on talent, but there are new offensive pieces to integrate into the reigning champions. Receiver Rueben Randle and running back David Wilson add an unknown excitement factor to this offense.
No More Games, Mr. Gabbert
2011 first-round pick Blaine Gabbert suffered through a miserable rookie season, but the Jaguars brought in a quarterback-friendly head coach and added some receiving pieces. Now, it's on Gabbert to deliver. He's been ridiculed to the max this offseason, so a good performance Friday could go a long way.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins
The Bucs offense will look considerably different to start 2012 than it did to end 2011. Receiver Vincent Jackson (free agent, San Diego), guard Carl Nicks (FA, New Orleans) and Doug Martin (draft, first round) bring three dynamic talents to the table. Let's see how the entire machine works in its first run Friday.
HBO's team has so many storylines that it would be impossible to name them all here. Quick rundown of the most important: Joe Philbin's head coach debut, Chad Johnson's return to the spotlight, David Garrard's starting chance, and the first appearance of 2012 first-rounder Ryan Tannehill.
Skelton, You're Up
Kevin Kolb (ribs) will play Friday, but John Skelton will get the start at quarterback. Kolb was awful in his first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, so Skelton has a great opportunity to gain ground (or separate himself, depending on your own view) on the quarterback competition. It's an important time in Arizona right now.
Welcome back, Jamaal
After tearing up his knee in Week 2 last season, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles makes his long-awaited return Friday. Limitations have been few and far between for Charles in camp, so this is no surprise. But let's see how confident he is on the surgically repaired knee in live action.
Pondering the Future
2011 first-rounder Christian Ponder showed flashes in his rookie season, but the downs outweighed the ups far too often. In his second year, Ponder needs to show more consistency in leading the Vikings offense. He may not get a large workload tonight, but the 49ers defense should give him a stern test.
Skill Position Frenzy
Few NFL teams have the kind of depth at the running back and receiver positions as the 49ers. There are at least five capable backs—Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon—plus a boatload of receivers, such as Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins and Ted Ginn Jr. Friday should give us a good look at most of them, and how the 49ers want to use each in the framework of their offense.
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