NFL Preseason Week 3: Breakout Performers to Watch This Week
Week 3 of the NFL preseason is a chance for starters and primary backups to get their chance to stand out and earn a bigger role in the upcoming season.
The NFL mandates that teams start cutting down rosters shortly after the third preseason weekend, so this is a make or break slate of games for many players.
With starters staying in the game for more snaps than any other week of preseason, and coaches eager to nail down depth chart positions before making cuts, this is the week for players to impress and earn a bigger role on their respective teams.
Here are some players who are poised to make a great impression this week and earn more playing time.
Shane Vereen, Running back, New England Patriots
Shane Vereen has been a trendy name all preseason, as he started to breakout last year and assert himself as a weapon on an already loaded offense.
But as the spring and summer brought more and more bad news about the state of the New England offense, Vereen quietly emerged as a possible key contributor to the Patriot offense.
And as Chris Trapasso wrote earlier in the preseason at Bleacher Report, Vereen has the versatility and opportunity to take the Kevin Faulk or Danny Woodhead role in the offense in new England. But it's his skills that could make him better than either of these former Patriot running backs.
Vereen and the Patriots take on the Detroit Lions this week, who gave up over 27 points per game in 2012. The Patriots will be looking to get their first team offense into week 1 form, and torching the Lions using their newest versatile running back would certainly help solidify the identity of the offense.
Jordan Cameron, Tight End, Cleveland Browns
The Browns have revamped their coaching staff, which including the addition of head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner. The duo have an impressive list of tight end success stories through their NFL careers, as pointed out by Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com.
Grossi mentions Kellen Winslow Jr., Antonio Gates, Greg Olsen, and Vernon Davis among the success stories for these two offensive-minded coaches. And Jordan Cameron is likely to be next.
The Cleveland tight end hauled in two scores against the Lions in Week 2 of the preseason, and instantly earned a place in the spotlight heading into Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts don't have a strong defense, so Cameron has much to gain by posting another impressive performance this week.
Johnthan Banks, Cornerback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Johnthan Banks impressed in his preseason debut, showing solid tackling skills against the Baltimore Ravens.
But he has yet to be tested in the passing game, as most of the targets this preseason have gone elsewhere. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Banks has only been targeted three times in the 2013 preseason, allowing 2 catches for only 8 yards.
As Doug Alden of USA Today reported from a Buccaneers' press conference, Head Coach Greg Schiano told the assembled media that he's not overly concerned with forcing Revis into the preseason, and is confident that he'll perform even without any preseason reps.
Banks will start in a game against a team that boasts a big play receiver in Mike Wallace on one side of the offense, and a shifty possession receiver in Brian Hartline on the other side. This will be a massive test for Banks, and it provides him an opportunity to show what he can do against the pass.
And as Bleacher Report's J.J. Rodriguez pointed out in a training camp report, Banks has been breaking up passes during camp and has lived up to scouting reports touting him as a long, athletic cover corner with NFL-ready skills.
He'll need to put those abilities on display against a talented Dolphins receiving corps.
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