The NFL preseason schedule launches this week. Here's what we're looking for in each of Saturday night's games:
The Browns have a first-year coach and a waterfall of new moving parts, but all eyes will be on Johnny Manziel's quest to unseat veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer. Mike Pettine says "more weight will be put" on game performance than practice, a dynamic favoring the rookie. While one Browns teammate admits he hasn't seen those plays "that makes me go, 'Wow'" in Berea, Manziel's artistry in live action is why the Browns were compelled to make him the No. 22 overall pick. Forget all the breathless summertime reporting on these quarterbacks: Saturday's tilt on NFL Network will bring us closer to the truth.
We got a taste of the Giants last week. Now it's time to drink in a Steelers squad that trended younger and faster this offseason. On offense, I'm looking forward to seeing third-round X-factor Dri Archer after he "put on a show at camp." Taking snaps as a runner, pass-catcher and return man, Archer has flashed jaw-dropping speed and change of direction:
The must-see newbie on defense is first-round linebacker Ryan Shazier, tentatively named the first defensive rookie to start for the Steelers since Kendrell Bell in 2001. Coordinator Dick LeBeau ticketed the "exceptional" Shazier and rookie defensive end Stephon Tuitt for "an awful lot of snaps" out of the gate.
The Titans don't get much love on this website, but don't blame Around The League editor Gregg Rosenthal. He's been touting rookie running back Bishop Sankey since before the draft. Tennessee thought enough to take Sankey over Jeremy Hill and Carlos Hyde, maybe because of what a league scout told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "He's tougher than (expletive). He's got a little bit of Emmitt Smith in him."
Sign me up for a look at John Brown, the rookie Cardinals wideout that teammates "haven't been able to cover" at training camp. The third-round pick out of Pittsburg State has been tabbed as a T.Y. Hilton clone because of their similar size and matching 4.34 speed. The 5-foot-11, 179-pound Brown has spent time with the ones in practice and has a chance to beat out Ted Ginn as Arizona's deep threat du jour alongside Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd in three-receiver sets.