Bradford, Tebow among players to watch in Week 1 of preseason


As much news as Albert Haynesworth made by skipping the Redskins' offseason training program and missing the first week of training camp while he tried to pass the team's conditioning test, he'll probably be a non-issue when the Redskins host the Bills in their preseason-opener Friday.

Haynesworth is apparently going to see limited action in the game, but the players behind him on the depth chart will still get the bulk of the playing time.

Despite the fact Haynesworth is expected to see the field, he will likely focus more on getting in a few reps, before taking marginally significant snaps in Week 2. Don't expect to see much of Indy's Peyton Manning without Jeff Saturday (knee surgery, could be out six weeks) or the Chargers' Philip Rivers (left tackle uncertainty) anytime soon.

With the full slate of teams set to kick their preseason off, beginning Thursday, it's not the vets who need the work, hence, we're going to hear plenty about Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Eric Berry and Jason Pierre-Paul.

Let's take a look at some storylines for this week's games:

Denver @ Cincinnati, Sun. 7 p.m. ET: Tebow, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens on the same field. Star appeal for sure.

Denver: Recently acquired RB Justin Fargas figures to see some time because of the Broncos' lack of backfield depth. This could be a solid long-term addition -- if he makes the team. I really like this move. Tebow and Brady Quinn should play a lot with the rookie seeing a lot of action in standard sets, as Denver won't want to show the packages Tebow will be used in during the regular season.

Cincinnati: The Bengals will try to fine tune their passing game. Rookie TE Jermaine Gresham needs to start to be included. Second-year LB Michael Johnson could show well again vs. Denver's offensive line, which will be minus stud LT Ryan Clady (knee surgery).

New York Giants @ New York Jets, Mon., 8 p.m.: For the first time in months, the Giants will actually get to share in some of the spotlight the Jets have created.

Giants: The raw Pierre-Paul could get plenty of reps to see how he holds up against the run and pass. The only thing holding him back from being a total monster is experience. Second-year WR Ramses Barden needs to show progress because the player with the build of former WR Plaxico Burress could be an X-factor.

Jets: This game is all about one player -- rookie CB Kyle Wilson. If the first-round pick makes plays as a fill-in for Darrelle Revis, we'll hear rhetoric from the Jets about how they can win without the All-Pro holdout. If Wilson struggles, Revis will gain leverage for the mega-bucks deal he's waiting for. I can hear the talk now if that happens: "You've been Asomugha'd."

Oakland @ Dallas, Thu. 9 p.m.: Raiders QB Jason Campbell can't escape the NFC East yet.

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Oakland: Ok, we've heard about all the progress second-year WR Darrius Heyward-Bey has made in the offseason. The lights will be on. Time to show and prove. RB Michael Bush has a prime opportunity to take the lead for the starting job with Darren McFadden hurt (again).

Dallas: LT Doug Free will continue to try and solidify the starting job. Third-string RB Tashard Choice will get to showcase (again) why he's not used enough.

Detroit @ Pittsburgh, Sat. 7:30 p.m.: Imagine, Matthew Stafford might not need as many reps as two-time Super Bowl winning QB Ben Roethlisberger:

Detroit: Second overall pick, DT Ndamukong Suh, needs to play more than a few series because he's at a position that takes a long time to learn -- and one that many rookies struggle with.

Pittsburgh: While coach Mike Tomlin is mum about Roethlisberger's status going into the game, the QB needs some first-team reps since he's going on at least a month-long hiatus once the regular season starts. Don't expect him to be exposed too much because an injury on top of everything else might be too much for the Steelers. Expect Dennis Dixon to get a heavy load this entire preseason so he can get needed experience, while Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich stay out of harm's way.

Minnesota @ St. Louis, Sat. 8 p.m.: We know which quarterback won't be playing.

St. Louis: Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said Bradford will get some work with the first team. I'd expect the No. 1 overall pick to take the field when Minnesota goes to its No. 2 (or less) defense. Getting Bradford this type of exposure is huge because he'll get a taste of facing a solid unit, even without its starters, and he'll have to play in front of fans with huge expectations.

Minnesota: Second-round picks CB Chris Cook and RB Toby Gerhart can begin to make their case for playing time. Cook has had a pretty good training camp. Gerhart needs to show well in these situations because Albert Young looks to have an early lead as Adrian Peterson's backup.

Short-yardage packages

Cleveland @ Green Bay, Sat. 8 p.m.: Packers' first-round pick Bryan Bulaga gets to further his indoctrination at guard. Safety Morgan Burnett goes about trying to quell concerns about his ability to set the defense and tackle in the open field as he moves into Atari Bigby’s role.

New Orleans @ New England, Thu. 7:30 p.m.: Saints RBs P.J. Hill and Chris Ivory will get a lot of touches to see if they can replace third-string back Lynell Hamilton, who tore his ACL in practice this week.

San Francisco @ Indianapolis, Sun. 1 p.m.: Though the 49ers plan to be a run-first team, they might throw it more than normal to expose rookie LG Mike Iupati and rookie RT Anthony Davis to blitzes and coverage reads.

Carolina @Baltimore, Thu. 8 p.m.: The backups trying to fill in for the Ravens' injury-plagued secondary get their chances against an unproven Panthers' receiving corps needing to figure out a target not named Steve Smith.

Jacksonville @ Philadelphia, Fri. 7:30 p.m.: This preseason might be the last time Eagles QB Michael Vick can show that he's more than just a gimmick, because he'll get some extended reps in more orthodox sets.

Tennessee @ Seattle, Sat. 10 p.m.: Seahawks Nation gets to see why management traded for QB Charlie Whitehurst. He's been a preseason star the past four years. Will that be all he amounts to in 2010? I've been alerted to keep an eye on rookie CB Alterraun Verner, who is making a serious push to earn a starting job.

Tampa Bay @ Miami, Sat. 7 p.m.: If there's a matchup I'm dying to see over the course of a game, it's Tampa CB Aqib Talib vs. Miami WR Brandon Marshall. Won't happen much, if at all, but that would be a good one. As consolation, we'll get the chance to see Bucs rookie WR Mike Williams, who's been drawing raves practicing against his own team -- including Talib.

Houston @ Arizona, Sat. 8 p.m.: Everything QB Matt Leinart does will be heavily scrutinized, as it should. The Cardinals are a team with a fairly solid foundation and an excellent coaching staff. How Leinart performs, even in abbreviated stints, will dictate if his coaches and teammates buy into him.

Kansas City @ Atlanta, Fri. 8 p.m.: Will the Falcons have a cornerback materialize to play opposite Dunta Robinson? Will the Chiefs have anyone who can throw at and make catches in the vicinity of one of those corners?

Chicago @ San Diego, Sat. 9 p.m.: Think new Bears DE Julius Peppers would like to go against this left-tackle thin unit in the regular season?



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