What to watch in Thursday's preseason finale


After four long weeks, the NFL's preseason finally wraps up Thursday night. As has become the custom over the past few decades, most teams will rest their starters, leaving the finale as a full-scale audition for the last few spots on the roster.

If tracking backup centers and special teams gunners isn't your thing, here are a handful of quarterback situations to monitor:

1. Brian Hoyer ranks 74th in yards per attempt (5.3) and 75th in passer rating (63.7) among all all quarterbacks this preseason. Is he so locked in as the Week 1 starter that a spectacular effort from Johnny Manziel versus the Bears won't have offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains urging head coach Mike Pettine to reconsider his depth chart?

2. Against damning evidence that Matt Schaub can no longer throw NFL-quality passes with a sore elbow, the Raiders insist they are sticking with the veteran as their opening day starter. If second-round rookie Derek Carr lights up the Super Bowl champions in an extended audition on Thursday night, perhaps the coaching staff will see the light.

3. Apparently pleased with the smallest signs of progress from Tom Savage, Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien said this week that the rookie has gained ground on Case Keenum for the backup quarterback job behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. Keenum's response to reporters: "I hadn't heard that until you just told me." The two will battle it out versus the 49ers on Thursday night.

4. Will the Packers keep three quarterbacks or try to make do with just two? Scott Tolzien has been pushing Matt Flynn for the No. 2 job throughout training camp. If the former drastically outplays the latter versus the Chiefs, the Packers might consider cutting Flynn, who received just $750,000 in guarantees on his one-year, $1,068,125 contract.

5. Blake Bortles isn't going to overtake Chad Henne for the Jaguars' Week 1 job. Thursday's preseason finale against the Falcons might be your last chance to see the impressive rookie for the next two months.

On the latest "Around The League Podcast," the heroes preview the entire NFC and chat with Giants linebacker Jon Beason.