NFL preseason Week 1: One thing to watch in each game of busy weekend, including Justin Fields and Jordan Love

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After more than two weeks of training, NFL teams will get a chance to show off their progress during Week 1 of the preseason. Players will also get the chance to go up against someone else after primarily facing their teammates during the first weeks of training camp. 

While several prominent players will not take part in the preseason, the majority of NFL players will be taking part in this weekend’s games. Week 1 of the preseason kicked off on Thursday night, as the Patriots edged Washington while the Steelers improved their preseason record to 2-0 with a road win in Philadelphia. 

The league’s other 28 teams will play in 14 games over the next three days, as each NFL team prepares to cut its roster to 85 players on Aug. 17. As we enter the first preseason weekend in nearly two years (last year’s preseason was canceled due to COVID-19), here’s one thing to keep an eye on for each game.

Friday, Aug. 13 

Titans at Falcons 

Time: 7 p.m. ET 
TV: Local channels WUPA, WKRN

With headliners Julio Jones and Kyle Pitts not expected to play much (if at all), the player to watch in this matchup is Titans second-year running back Darrynton Evans, who is hoping to have a significantly bigger role in Tennessee’s offense in 2021. The Titans need another running back to help take some of the workload from Derrick Henry, the league’s rushing champion each of the past two seasons. 

Bills at Lions

Time: 7 p.m. ET 
TV: NFL Network, WJBK, WKBW

This matchup will include two established quarterbacks making their debuts with new teams. Jared Goff, after a mostly successful run with the Rams, will appear in his first game with the Lions since he was traded this offseason. With Josh Allen sitting out, the Bills will start former Pro Bowler Mitchell Trubisky, the former No. 2 overall pick who won 29 of his 50 regular season starts in Chicago. 

Cowboys at Cardinals

Time: 10 p.m. ET 
TV: NFL Network, KPNX, KTVT

Cowboys fans are surely looking forward to watching first-round pick Micah Parsons, who had a highly-successful preseason opener in the Hall of Fame Game. The same can be said of fellow rookie linebacker Jabril Cox, who led the Cowboys in tackles last Thursday night. 

Saturday, Aug. 14 

Dolphins at Bears

Time: 1 p.m. ET 
TV: NFL Network, WFLD, WFOR

Chicago fans will see a lot of rookie quarterback Justin Fields on Saturday, as coach Matt Nagy said that the No. 11 overall pick will play at least the entire first half. Fields will look to duplicate the success he had against Miami’s defense during Thursday’s joint practice, as the former Ohio State standout scored three touchdowns and ran for another. 

Broncos at Vikings 

Time: 4 p.m. ET 
TV: NFL Network, KMSP, KTVD

Drew Lock will get the first crack to make his case to be Denver’s starting quarterback in 2021. The three-year veteran will start Saturday’s game against the Vikings, while Teddy Bridgewater will start the following week’s preseason game against the Seahawks. Lock has had more splash plays during camp, while Bridgewater has had a better overall command of the offense. The position is very much up for grabs heading into Saturday’s game. 

Browns at Jaguars 

Time: 7 p.m. ET 
TV: NFL Network, WJAX, WEWS

There will be a lot of firsts in Jacksonville on Saturday night. It will be the first NFL game for coach Urban Meyer, who this week invited recently inducted Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson to Jacksonville’s facility to speak to his team. It will also be the first game for No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, who is trying to beat out Gardner Minshew (who will also get reps Saturday night) as the team’s starting quarterback. Saturday will also be the first game for Tim Tebow as a tight end. The former quarterback will play in his first game in nearly a decade. 

Saints at Ravens

Time: 7 p.m. ET 
TV: WBAL, WVUE

All eyes in New Orleans will be on the quarterback battle between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston, who will both see playing time on Saturday night. Neither quarterback has separated himself from the other as they enter their first preseason game. One thing that has raised some eyebrows in New Orleans is how both quarterbacks have been more of a game-manager than playmaker in camp. That could give the nod to Winston, who had issues protecting the football during his time in Tampa. 

Jets at Giants 

Time: 7:30 p.m. 
TV: WNBC 

It won’t be for very long, but Jets fans will get to see rookie quarterback Zach Wilson on Saturday night. Coach Robert Saleh said that the No. 2 overall pick is expected to play roughly a quarter in his preseason debut. For the Giants, quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley will only be watching the action from the sideline. 

Bengals at Buccaneers

Time: 7:30 p.m. 
TV: WRSP, WFTV, WKRC

While Joe Burrow won’t play this preseason, 44-year-old quarterback Tom Brady will be on the field when his team opens its preseason schedule. Brady will be on the field for one or two drives before handing the keys to second-round pick Kyle Trask. Trask recently received praise from both Brady and coach Bruce Arians ahead of Saturday night’s game. Specifically, Arians lauded the fundamental aspects of Trask’s game through the first two weeks of training camp. 

Texans at Packers 

Time: 8 p.m. ET 
TV: WTMJ, KTRK

With Aaron Rodgers out, Jordan Love will get the start in the Packers’ first preseason game. Green Bay’s first-round pick a year ago, Love — who didn’t play in any games last season — is trying to improve his consistency after enduring an up-and-down practice while handling the first-team reps. Another Packers offensive player to watch is rookie receiver Amari Rodgers, who made an impressive reception on a throw from Love earlier this week. 

Chiefs at 49ers 

Time: 8:30 p.m. ET 
TV: KPIX, KCTV

49ers fans will get their first look at rookie quarterback Trey Lance, who by all accounts has had an impressive training camp thus far. Protection, however, has been in issue for the 49ers’ offense, as Lance was under heavy duress throughout a recent practice. Some of that pressure was a result of Lance holding the ball a bit too long, something he will look to correct on Saturday night. 

Seahawks at Raiders 

Time: 9 p.m. ET 
TV: KTVU, KING

For the first time, the Raiders will play in front of fans inside Allegiant Stadium after having empty seats during their inaugural season in Las Vegas. The Raiders got a taste of what Saturday will be like earlier this week, when the team invited 20,000 fans to attend practice. Las Vegas may be down a quarterback for Saturday, as backup Marcus Mariota has been labeled as questionable with a leg injury. 

Chargers at Rams

Time: 10 p.m. ET 
TV: NFL Network, KCBS, KABC

Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Justin Herbert are among the notable players the Rams and Chargers are holding out of Saturday’s game. Rams fans will want to keep an eye on rookies Tutu Atwell and Jake Funk. Atwell is hoping to replace Robert Woods as the Rams’ No. 3 receiving option, while Funk is looking to help replace the loss of Cam Akers, who tore his Achilles last month. 

Sunday, Aug. 15 

Panthers at Colts 

Time: 1 p.m. ET 
TV: NFL Network, WXIN, WSOC

Sunday will mark Sam Darnold’s first game with his new team after being traded this offseason. Carolina fans will also get to watch former XFL star P.J. Walker, who won his only start for the Panthers last season. The bullseye will be on the Panthers receivers after the group was called out by coach Matt Rhule after a recent scrimmage. 



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