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What to watch in Saturday's preseason games

  • By Chris Wesseling and Marc Sessler
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The preseason's critical third week has arrived. Expect to see the starters play at least a half in what amounts to the NFL's regular-season dress rehearsal.

Here's what we're watching for in Saturday's games:


Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons (7 p.m.)



Second-round draft pick Bishop Sankey has been the third tailback through the rotation, behind Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster, the past two weeks. Will the rookie see extensive action with the first-team offense on Saturday night?

Devonta Freeman, drafted by the Falcons two rounds later than Sankey, has been the more impressive of the two backs. The Falcons have yet to trust the former Florida State star with first-team work, even with Steven Jackson (hamstring) sidelined. Let's see if that changes this week.

Dallas Cowboys at Miami Dolphins (7 p.m.)



Lamar Miller has averaged 1.9 yards per carry through two games as the offensive line has struggled to open clear running lanes. See if the Dolphins can get their ground attack on track against a soft Cowboys defense.

Speaking of that defense, Dallas is still uncertain who will replace Sean Lee at middle linebacker. Veteran Justin Durant has been shifted to the weak side, with fourth-round rookie Anthony Hitchens and Rolando McClain vying for snaps in the middle. This could be the most problematic linebacker corps in the league.

Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens (7:30 p.m.)



Robert Griffin III has vowed to curb his reckless style of play and improve his sliding. Tune in to see if the ugliest maneuver in sports begins to bear even a small resemblance to a baseball slide.

Bernard Pierce got the start in last week's game after Ray Rice started the preseason opener. Both backs are being used interchangeably with the first-team offense. It will be interesting to see if there's any separation between the two as the first-team offense plays an entire half.

St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns (8 p.m.)



If Brian Hoyer vs. Sam Bradford doesn't get your motor started, you need to see a doctor.

The Browns desperately need Hoyer to piece together sustaining drives after two straight pathetic showings. We'll closely monitor the quarterback's rhythm with tight end Jordan Cameron and Cleveland's underwhelming collection of wideouts.

Coming off ACL surgery, Bradford was a nice surprise against the Packers last week but will have his hands full with a Browns defense that forced a whopping four Redskins turnovers.

New Orleans Saints at Indianapolis Colts (8 p.m., CBS)



Drew Brees gets his first taste of game action alongside Saints rookie pass-catcher Brandin Cooks. We'll be watching the New Orleans backfield, too, seeing if Mark Ingram will continue to play a role in the passing game while running with newfound purpose and power.

We had a lively debate on Friday's podcast about the fantasy value of Trent Richardson. Running at 2.4 yards per clip, T-Rich has looked indecisive and sluggish on tape. It's worth noting that his two longest runs -- both for 8 yards -- have come out of the pistol.

Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs (8 p.m.)



Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher was pushed around like a ragdoll against the Panthers. K.C.'s decimated line needs to see last year's top overall pick flip the switch. He'll be tested against Vikings rookie pass rusher Anthony Barr, who recorded a sack for the second week in a row against the Cardinals.

The Vikings quarterback situation is basically settled with Matt Cassel atop the heap. Another big game by Teddy Bridgewater, though, would go a long way to speeding up his eventual regular-season debut.

Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (9 p.m.)



Jadeveon Clowney won't go for the Texans (neither will Arian Foster), per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. The No. 1 overall pick has played just 29 total snaps over Houston's first two preseason tilts. However, what little we've seen from the J.J. Watt and Clowney duo suggests downright chaos for opponents.

Montee Ball practiced this week while "slowly, slowly" getting his weight back up after his appendectomy. If he can't go Saturday, we'll get another peek at Ronnie Hillman vs. C.J. Anderson in Denver's backfield. Behind them, Juwan Thompson and Kapri Bibbs appear to be in a fight for Denver's final backfield slot.

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