Analysis  

 

John Skelton-Kevin Kolb QB battle highlights Thursday games

Print

The dress rehearsal is upon us. Starters traditionally log the most playing time in Week 3 of the preseason, before resting up in Week 4. So in many ways, this week's contests are viewed as a final tune-up before the regular season.

Here is a quick guide to the three games on tap Thursday night:

Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals

The Packers played great on both offense and defense for the first five minutes of last week's contest against the Cleveland Browns ... before struggling the rest of the way in a lopsided loss. They will look for more sustained success in this game.

This is Green Bay's first chance to see how Cedric Benson fits into the offensive attack. Benson might not play very long -- seeing as he's still getting integrated with the Pack -- but he'll be very motivated by the opportunity to line up against his former teammates in Cincinnati.

While it's only the preseason, this game will provide a great test for the Bengals. The Packers show a lot of different looks on defense -- excellent preparation for a team in the same division as the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Cincinnati's starting offensive line has yet to allow a sack this preseason, but Clay Matthews and the rest of the Packers' defensive front will test that group in this game.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens

These two teams met in Week 7 last season and the game wasn't easy on the eyes. Both offenses struggled, and the Jaguars squeaked out a 12-7 upset win. This game figures to be another physical affair. However, the story of this installment is more about the two players who won't be suiting up.

The Ravens are without reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs. His offseason Achilles injury has already had an effect on this defense, as Baltimore has only registered two sacks during the preseason. The Ravens need a few young pass rushers to accelerate their development or else this defense won't be nearly as dominant as it has been over the past decade.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville is still without last season's NFL rushing king, as Maurice Jones-Drew continues to hold out over unhappiness with his current contract. In his absence, backup running back Rashad Jennings has played extremely well. If he puts together a solid game against the Ravens, the Jaguars will continue to hold all of the cards in this contract standoff.

Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans

This game is all about the quarterbacks. For the Cardinals, all signs point to John Skelton winning this QB battle over Kevin Kolb. All Skelton has to do in this game is avoid disaster. If he just plays average, that should be enough to seal the deal.

Jeremiah: The waiting game is over
Aaron Rodgers didn't start until his fourth NFL season. Daniel Jeremiah explains why those days are done for young QBs. More ...

On Monday, the Titans formally announced that Jake Locker would be the team's starting quarterback for the 2012 season. With his starting spot already locked up, Locker should be much more relaxed than he was in last week's uneven game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Both teams also have interesting running back storylines to follow during this game. For the Cardinals, this will be their first chance to roll out Beanie Wells during the preseason. Second-year running back Ryan Williams has been very impressive during camp. The team has to be excited about the potential of this duo.

For the Titans, Chris Johnson has been as good as ever during the preseason. With his explosiveness back, CJ2K looks primed for a huge season. Backup running back Darius Reynaud wasn't a lock to make the roster prior to training camp, but he has been phenomenal in the preseason.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

Print

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop