15 players to watch in Friday's preseason games

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  • By Around the NFL staff
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Thursday's six games were chock full of takeaways as the preseason kicked off in earnest. So what should we be looking for in Friday's games? Here are 13 players to keep an eye on during Friday's six games.

1. Marcus Mariota, Titans quarterback: No rookie has been hyped up more than Mariota over the last three weeks. And let's be honest: August is rookie time. Lions running back Ameer Abdullah stole the show Thursday night. Blake Bortles got all the love last August. This is our first chance to see how comfortable Mariota reportedly has looked as a professional.

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2-4. Hakeem Nicks, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Justin Hunter, Titans wide receivers: Nicks has been the talk of Titans camp and Hunter has also played well in practice. While Harry Douglas is listed ahead of both players for now, Nicks and Hunter have far higher ceilings. DGB, the talented rookie, has reportedly struggled to adapt to the NFL. He's fighting to be relevant in a sneaky fun receiver group.

5-7. Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor, and EJ Manuel, Bills quarterbacks: Cassel will start the game and is the early favorite to start Week 1. A poor performance from Manuel could make this a two-man race, with Manuel headed to the trade block.

8. Karlos Williams, Bills running back: Fred Jackson is injured and Bryce Brown is in the doghouse because of his fumbling. Williams, a promising rookie, has a chance to scoot up the depth chart with a nice game.

9. Odell Beckham, Giants wide receiver: After an offseason where Beckham was usually described as a celestial entity, it will be nice to seeing him doing what made him famous.

10. Tyler Eifert, Bengals tight end: After missing nearly all of 2014, Eifert has lit up Bengals camp. This offense has a chance to be the best that Cincinnati has seen in a long time. We want to see it for ourselves.

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11. Tre Mason, Rams running back: He probably won't play much because he's the Rams' starting running back until Todd Gurley gets healthy -- there's no telling when that will be. Mason had an impressive rookie year and sounds ready for a second-year leap behind a remade offensive line.

12. Nick Foles, Rams quarterback: It's strange that a team I'm predicting to make the playoffs is led by Foles and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti. Foles has a month to make me reconsider. 

13. Trent Richardson, Raiders running back: Latavius Murray is the clear starter in Oakland and is expected to be treated as such. Richardson, meanwhile, is fighting just to make the team.

14. Brock Osweiler, Broncos quarterback: This is Osweiler's time to prove to VP of All Things Broncos John Elway to hand out a contract extension before Peyton Manning retires. (And the part of the year where Manning isn't allowed to shoo Osweiler to the sideline in the preseason.)

15. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks receiver: Initially expected to be a return specialist, Lockett is making a bid for more snaps at receiver as a rookie in a wide-open position in Seattle.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast features the gang sharing their takeaways on the start of the preseason.

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