NFL Preseason Week 2 Storylines
As the NFL preseason enters its final stages, fans can look forward to more familiar faces taking the field and key players getting valuable practice before the regular season kicks off.
With the exciting debut of "Hard Knocks" with the Jets, the anticipation building for fantasy football drafts, and teams working to finalize their rosters, we're inching closer to the highly anticipated Game 1 between the Lions and Chiefs.
But before that, let's dive into what to keep an eye on in Week 2 of preseason football.
BROWNS vs EAGLES
8/17/23 (7:30 PM EST)
One player in particular has shown promise this preseason and it’s been coming from arguably the most important position.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a Bishop Gorman and UCLA mobile QB has shown that he belongs in the NFL after a successful Hall of Fame Game debut and near-perfect 2nd game where he threw for 102 yards and a TD with just one incompletion. He will get the nod over Kellen Mond to start against Philly.
With Amari Cooper’s role solidified and Elijah Moore & Jerome Ford out with injury for this matchup, look for both David Bell and Cedric Tillman to make impacts on the outside. Bell and Tillman will continue to battle for the WR4 spot on a roster that lacks stability behind Cooper at the wideout position and Chubb at Running Back.
Similar to the Browns, everything we’ve heard out of their preseason and training camp has been about first-round rookie selection Jalen Carter.
With about half of the former Georgia Bulldog defense on their roster, not many starting spots are open in Philly, but their Running Back room seems loaded with talent without much certainty as to who will start Week 1.
D’Andre Swift, Rashaad Penny, and Kenneth Gainwell should split carries throughout the rest of the preseason, but watch out for one to break away with the RB1 role within the next week or so. Whoever wins this contest becomes a valuable fantasy asset behind one of the best O-Lines in the league.
PANTHERS vs GIANTS
8/18/23 (7:00 PM EST)
The last time Carolina took the field, they put up zero points against the New York Jets, which was well documented on “Hard Knocks”.
While Bryce Young only threw the rock a total of six times, there’s cause for concern up front with an unstable Offensive Line and the lack of proven talent surrounding the Mater Dei and Alabama prodigy.
If it gets worse than five sacks and eight QB hits against the Giants, it might be time for Frank Reich and company to search for a lineman via trade as the season could get ugly quickly if the issue in the trenches doesn’t get resolved.
Coming off one of the best seasons in recent memory, the New York Giants could easily take a step back this season if no one steps up around Saquon Barkley as a viable playmaker in space.
The addition of Darren Waller should help, but there still needs to be a sense of urgency within this offense to find somewhat who will get those extra yards that turn into touchdowns for Daboll and Jones.
Jalin Hyatt, Eric Gray, and Isiah Hodgins are three players to keep your eyes out for. Hodgins scored 5 TDs in his last seven games last season, including posting an 8 reception, 105-yard, 1 TD game in the Wild Card win over Minnesota.
Let’s see if that can translate into next season where he should get the starting nod from Daboll.
BENGALS vs FALCONS
8/18/23 (7:30 PM EST)
With neither Jake Browning nor Trevor Siemian playing well in their preseason opener for Cincy, there is some cause for concern for Zac Taylor’s group as Joe Burrow’s timetable for returning shouldn’t be rushed.
In the roughest division in football, every game matters, so it is essential for Taylor to devise a game plan that’s QB-friendly for either one of these backups that will end up taking the reins in Week 1.
Also look out for the RB contest behind Joe Mixon, as the Bengals could use a change-of-pace back at times in the postseason with Samaje Perine now in Denver.
One of the more hyped-up teams heading into Week 2 of preseason football is the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta should begin the game with their starting offense which includes Desmond Ridder, Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and 8th overall selection, Bijan Robinson as their X-Factor.
With Tyler Allegier also in the mix, discipline and play calling will be the two keys to look out for as this offense is poised to break out this season if Ridder doesn’t turn the ball over and let his playmakers do their thing.
Look out for how they utilize Bijan in the passing game and red zone, while Kyle Pitts should have a more advanced route tree heading into Year 3.
DOLPHINS vs TEXANS
8/19/23 (4:00 PM EST)
While Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill remain the top options in this Mike McDaniel offense, the Running Back spot is still up for grabs with Dalvin Cook opting to join division rival New England.
While talks with Miami could have broken down contractually or schematically, one thing is certain. Tua and McDaniel have put their trust in rookie RB Devon Achane to become a top playmaker this season.
After generating a ton of camp buzz, these next two games will be huge for Achane and the usage he receives to start the season. Drafting him in a deep PPR league wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Houston is just looking for positives to build on from this offseason. While QB C.J. Stroud struggled in his debut, WR Tank Dell put on a show against New England, going for 65 yards and a score.
While it is expected that Dameon Pierce is the lead back and a crucial playmaker for this squad, look for Dell and Nico Collins to solidify themselves as starters these next few weeks, as Houston is desperate for playmakers all over the field.
On defense, Will Anderson is due to help the pass rush. However, with the mix of young talent and veteran presence, HC DeMeco Ryans might have some tough decisions to make in Week 1 as he will try to build what he once had in San Francisco.
This might take some patience with a franchise that has been internally broken but has made some great draft-day decisions as of late. Houston remains one of the more intriguing teams to watch this preseason with a handful of rookies who should start Week 1 against Baltimore.