The NFL preseason schedule is really beginning to heat up after every team got at least one game out of the way last week. With several stars set to stay in slightly longer in Week 2, expect to see plenty of action early on in each game.
Though the games don't count against teams in the standings, it's a chance for players to earn their place on a roster. Whether it's a player looking to become a starter or make the team, the second week of the preseason is crucial for a myriad reasons.
Before the action officially begins on Thursday night, here's a look at the full schedule and top games from Week 2 of the preseason.
|Aug. 14||8 p.m.||Jaguars||Bears||ESPN|
|Aug. 15||7:30 p.m.||Eagles||Patriots||NFLN|
|Aug. 15||8 p.m.||Titans||Saints||N/A|
|Aug. 15||10 p.m.||Lions||Raiders||N/A|
|Aug. 15||10 p.m.||Chargers||Seahawks||NFLN|
|Aug. 16||4 p.m.||Packers||Rams||NFLN|
|Aug. 16||7 p.m.||Giants||Colts||N/A|
|Aug. 16||7 p.m.||Jets||Bengals||N/A|
|Aug. 16||7 p.m.||Ravens||Cowboys||NFLN|
|Aug. 16||7:30 p.m.||Dolphins||Buccaneers||N/A|
|Aug. 16||7:30 p.m.||Bills||Steelers||N/A|
|Aug. 16||8 p.m.||Falcons||Texans||N/A|
|Aug. 16||8:30 p.m.||Cardinals||Vikings||N/A|
|Aug. 17||4 p.m.||Broncos||49ers||NFLN|
|Aug. 17||8 p.m.||Chiefs||Panthers||Fox|
|Aug. 18||8 p.m.||Browns||Redskins||ESPN|
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Chicago Bears (ESPN)
The first matchup of the long slate promises to bring quite a bit of intrigue.
Throughout the offseason, the Chicago Bears looked to retool a defense that ranked 30th in the NFL last season. After acquiring Jared Allen and drafting Kyle Fuller to bolster the roster, they will look to build rapport in the second preseason game.
As for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the rebuilding franchise has new offensive weapons and hopes to exploit the Bears. One of those fresh faces is quarterback Blake Bortles, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, who is currently the backup to Chad Henne.
ESPN analyst Jerome Bettis believes Bortles looked the best of the rookie class in the first game, per NFL on ESPN:
While Bortles is slowly emerging for Jacksonville, the young players around him haven't enjoyed the same success.
Marqise Lee was a highly coveted receiver coming out of USC, but fell to the Jags in the second round. Head coach Gus Bradley wasn't too pleased with his early effort, via Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union:
I think that’s one of those things we’re looking at – it’s the consistency. Run your routes [like the football] is coming to you. You can’t change speeds. You can’t choose when and when not to. I’ve told you before that I’ve seen him switch to where he’s more focused.
I’d like to visit with him about what happened [Friday]. He did play good, but he could have done some things even more precise. It wasn’t exactly where we need him to be.
Despite his early struggles with the offense, Hays Carlyon of the Times-Union believes he will be a huge piece on Thursday night:
Marqise Lee caught a bunch of passes today. I think he'll be showcased Thursday night. #Jaguars— Hays Carlyon (@HaysCarlyon) August 12, 2014
With multiple players on the field looking to solidify themselves as emerging stars, Thursday night should be entertaining. The spotlight will mainly be on the talented rookies on both teams.
Cleveland Browns vs. Washington Redskins (ESPN)
When it comes to storylines in the NFL this offseason, one man has dominated them. That player is none other than Johnny Manziel.
As the quarterback battle rages on between Manziel and Brian Hoyer, it will once again take center stage in the week's final matchup on Monday night. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com provides an update on the battle:
Mike Pettine has been adamant the actual starter isn’t important: “Both should get close to equal reps with the ones.” Hoyer goes 1st tho— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 14, 2014
Who will win the QB battle in Cleveland?
For now, it appears Cleveland Browns fans will have to wait yet again to see their first-round pick on the field.
The polarizing player has played well thus far, but has yet to take the reins away from Hoyer at this point. Another strong showing might inch him closer to the starting role, but it clearly hasn't been decided by Mike Pettine.
Regardless of what fans think about the former Texas A&M quarterback, he drives up the ratings when he's on the field. Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal notes the impressive ratings for the first Browns game:
The Clev-Det game (Manziel) on NFLN not only set rating record 4 preseason,it crushed it. 2.8 mil v 2.07 mil 4 NOLA-Pit in '07, 36% up— daniel kaplan (@dkaplanSBJ) August 12, 2014
Oh, and the Washington Redskins will be on the field as well. For fantasy owners who want to see just how well Robert Griffin III will be in action, maybe he'll be worth monitoring.
That's clearly a joke, but it's not far off from the media coverage Manziel has received thus far. The quarterback battle in Cleveland will continue, and all eyes will clearly be watching on ESPN.
San Diego Chargers vs. Seattle Seahawks (NFL Network)
Which Week 2 matchup is the best?
In between the two quarterback battles, two signal-callers entrenched at their position will face off. For a drive or two, at least.
Two of the top teams in the NFC And AFC West divisions come into the season with high expectations and hopes for a Super Bowl. In the Seattle Seahawks' case, a repeat of last year's memorable run.
Though little controversy surrounds key positions, getting a chance to see the San Diego Chargers' young players perform is worth the watch. Needless to say, both Ladarius Green and Keenan Allen will be focal points for fantasy owners.
With the game being highlighted on the NFL Network, expect both Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson to shine.
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