The Complete Guide to NFL Preseason Week 2
Week 2 of the NFL preseason is a great opportunity for players to build on the momentum created from the week before—or to redeem themselves after a disappointing outing. Regardless of which side of the coin players enter the week on, making a positive impression on the coaching staff is a universal goal.
The first game of the week is Thursday night and is between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears. It's followed by NFL action every day after that until Monday night, when the Cleveland Browns take on the Washington Redskins.
It's important to keep these games in perspective, as the value of the preseason is primarily designed to assess the skill level of younger players and to establish a rhythm for the vets heading into the regular season.
Most of the established players across the league will see limited action this week, knowing that Week 3 is typically seen as their official dress rehearsal for the season opener.
Youth will be primarily highlighted here.
Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer to Split Reps
On Monday night, the most covered storyline of training camp and the offseason will enter its next chapter. Rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel and veteran Brian Hoyer are set to split reps with the Cleveland Browns' first team in their second preseason game.
Although it has yet to be determined which QB will start the game, we do know that both guys will spend some time working with the first unit.
This interest level this competition has generated is unprecedented. Per the NFL (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com), 2.82 million viewers tuned in to watch the Browns take on the Lions last Saturday, making it the most watched preseason game in 11 years of televised games on NFL Network.
Obviously the main attraction here was the first official NFL action for Johnny Football—for the most part, he didn’t disappoint.
In that game against the Lions both QBs looked crisp and showed flashes of starting potential. However, Manziel seemed to thrive in his first opportunity in a game situation.
His passes were accurate and delivered with velocity. His ability to make plays with his legs also looked promising—aside from the few times he absorbed unnecessary contact while scrambling.
It should be fun seeing what he can do against the Redskins’ first-team defense on Monday night. Manziel mania is officially upon us.
Tony Romo Expected to Make Preseason Debut
Last week, the Cowboys’ franchise quarterback, Tony Romo, was held out of action in their preseason debut. He has spent much of this offseason recovering from his second back surgery in two years.
Although he did not play last Thursday, the team insists this is merely a precautionary measure.
One thing to keep an eye on when Dallas takes on the Baltimore Ravens this Saturday is Romo’s ability to throw the deep ball. According to longtime quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, per Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Romo is hitting his deep balls like he used to:
It's been OK. I think the deeper the ball goes down the field, it's a little bit more inconsistent. He's thrown all the intermediates -- the fours and the seven routes and the deep outs -- have been fine. It's just the nine routes and the deep posts. Those things have been a little inconsistent. I think that's all due to his back.
With all of the questions surrounding the Cowboys on the defensive side of the ball, the last thing they need right now is a quarterback who is not 100 percent healthy.
During camp, the 34-year-old Romo has looked "very much like the same quarterback" we saw in previous years at practice, per ESPNDallas.com's Todd Archer.
For what it’s worth, in a post-practice interview on NFL Network, Romo said that life will “never be the same” after back surgery—stating that it is a constant work in progress, trying to strengthen the areas around the back.
The Return of Cam Newton
Many concerned fans are wondering how Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's ankle will respond after he underwent offseason surgery. This injury has sidelined him during most of a spring in which he could have benefited from working with a receiving corps that has been essentially rebuilt from the bottom up.
Per ESPN.com's David Newton, head coach Ron Rivera could use this second preseason game to play his starters a lot longer than usual, considering the quick turnaround the following week.
Whether or not this means more reps for his quarterback is uncertain. What is more certain, however, is that Newton could use as many reps familiarizing himself with his new targets as possible—especially considering how much lost time he’ll be making up for.
Last year Newton led all quarterbacks with six rushing touchdowns. His health and chemistry with his receivers will be paramount if the Panthers hope to win the NFC South for the second year in a row. If he can accomplish this feat and put up decent numbers with this receiving corps, we may have to reconsider how good this guy really is.
Bucs Offense Looks to Redeem Itself
This Saturday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Miami Dolphins in their second preseason game of the year. This also marks the team’s second opportunity to preview its new-look offense, led by recently added coordinator Jeff Tedford and quarterback Josh McCown.
Last week the Bucs offense looked terrible in a 16-10 loss against the Jaguars in its preseason debut.
The first thing that stood out in that performance was the terrible play from the offensive line. It seemed every time a quarterback dropped back to pass he was under pressure.
McCown went 2-of-4 passing for just 20 yards and an interception in four drives while working with the first-team offense.
Offensively, the Bucs finished the night with a 27 percent success rate on third downs. Obviously this is just the start, and a lot of new pieces are trying to make an adjustment, but stark improvement is needed quickly before real panic sets in.
Head coach Lovie Smith is wasting no time mixing things up in the wake of a disappointing debut. Starting right guard Jamon Meredith has been demoted from the first string to a backup offensive tackle role in favor of Jace Daniels.
"Jamon didn't play as well as he needed to, so we're going to let him concentrate a little bit more at the tackle position and give that next group of guards an opportunity," Smith said, according to Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune.
Keeping a close eye on this offensive line against the Dolphins will be even more of a factor for Smith now that the Bucs have been linked to trade rumors with the 49ers’ disgruntled lineman Alex Boone, per ESPN's Bill Williamson. Boone is currently holding out of training camp in hopes to sign a contract extension.
Rookie Receiver John Brown in Arizona
Those who paid attention to names impressing this offseason should already have heard of rookie wide receiver John Brown. The third-round pick out of Pittsburg State has wowed everyone in camp this summer, drawing comparisons to another standout receiver formerly coached by Bruce Arians, T.Y. Hilton.
In a recent interview, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim compared Brown to a former Cardinal receiver who has put together quite a career in the league.
"I haven't seen a rookie come in and do what he's done—and it's early still—since Anquan Boldin," Keim said on Monday, per Robert Mays of Grantland.com. "This guy came through the first day, and being from Pittsburg State, has uncanny instincts, unbelievable understanding of route concepts, leverage, being in the right spot at the right time. On top of great ball skills, he has unusual speed and explosiveness."
Against the Texans in Week 1 of the preseason, Brown caught five passes for 87 yards, which was impressive enough to rank fourth in the league thus far.
On Saturday he and the Cardinals take on the Vikings. It should be interesting to see if his legend continues to grow or if he is brought back down to earth.
Carlos Hyde Looks Like a Future Starter
In San Francisco the backfield was getting a bit crowded—that is, until the group was hit by the injury bug.
Amid the damage, rookie Carlos Hyde appears poised to bug defenses for years to come if his first preseason game is any indication.
In the team's game against Baltimore, Hyde was one of the few offensive bright spots for the 49ers, rushing five times for 39 yards.
Many suspect the rookie will eventually take a substantial amount of snaps away from veteran Frank Gore as the 2014 season progresses.
Keep a close eye on Hyde when San Francisco takes on the Denver Broncos in its brand-new stadium. The atmosphere is sure to be full of excitement and electricity as the team debuts the state-of-the-art Levi's Stadium to its loyal fanbase.
Hyde’s violent running style could end up providing enough thunder Sunday evening to warrant consideration for a starting role earlier than expected. Let’s see if he gets more than five carries this week.
Is Brian Tyms the Real Deal?
Last week, journeyman receiver Brian Tyms took Week 1 of the preseason by storm catching five passes for 119 yards and a touchdown for the New England Patriots.
Tyms will need to continue his outstanding play on Friday against the Eagles if he is going to solidify a spot on this roster. He is suspended for the first four games of the regular season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Tyms claims he tested positive for Adderall, a drug which he has had a prescription for since he was nine years old.
The burden of carrying a guy who will miss the first four games may be too much for the Patriots unless this kid can continue to look like a legitimate deep threat on offense. However, there is a chance it could help him, considering he would not count against the 53-man roster during the suspension.
Tyms was undrafted in 2012 and eventually made it to the 49ers' practice squad. He spent time with the Dolphins and Browns before arriving in New England.
Ryan Riddle is a former NFL player and currently writes for Bleacher Report.