2021 NFL Preseason, Week 1: 1 thing to watch for from all 32 teams

After a year away, preseason football returned with the Hall of Fame Game and now comes a full slate of action with all 32 teams taking the field from Thursday through Sunday, including eight games airing on NFL Network. Don't miss the new Game Pass experience to watch this week's LIVE preseason games. Free trial available for new users. Out-of-market games only, blackout restrictions apply. Learn more.

Here's one thing to watch for from all 32 teams in Week 1 of the NFL preseason.

Thursday, Aug. 12

There's nary a dull moment when Ryan Fitzpatrick hits the field and Fitzmagic is set to debut for his ninth NFL team on Thursday, having made it known he's got no problem playing in the preseason. For the Pats, a quarterback competition is underway with Cam Newton and Mac Jones, with the latter set to see his first live action after the rookie was taken 15th overall by New England in the spring.

Najee Harris, the first running back off the board in the draft, saw his initial preseason action a week prior and, though he flashed some promise he never really got going. Perhaps a second look will be a more appealing one for the No. 24 overall pick. Jalen Hurts is presumed to be the Eagles' QB1, but hasn't been named as such by first-year coach Nick Sirianni and Thursday will be the second-year slinger's first chance at putting a stamp on his spot.

Friday, Aug. 13

Former Falcons all-time great and new Titans threat Julio Jones is likely to be carefully maintained throughout the season, and it's unlikely he'll see the field. Two-time rushing king Derrick Henry doesn't need any extra totes, so look out for 2020 third-rounder Darrynton Evans who will get the start. New Falcons head coach Arthur Smith's first preseason game will be against his old squad and perhaps most intriguing for Atlanta fans and many more will be getting a peek at Kyle Pitts, who was the highest-selected tight end in NFL history at No. 4 overall in the 2021 draft.

For all the Bills' success in 2020 and their dynamic offense, the running back corps struggled. Devin Singletary, Zack Moss and Matt Breida should start jockeying for touches and snaps on Saturday. Over on the Detroit sideline, the Dan Campbell begins and a snapshot of what dominance might lie ahead comes with offensive tackle Penei Sewell, the No. 7 overall pick, possibly going head-to-head with Bills first-round pass rusher Gregory Rousseau.

Cowboys rookie first-round linebacker Micah Parsons impressed in training camp, in the Hall of Fame Game and on the first episode of Hard Knocks, so what's next is must-see. Parsons won't be the only first-round rookie 'backer taking the field, with the Cardinals' Zaven Collins, who was drafted four spots after his counterpart, set to make his his NFL debut.

Saturday, Aug. 14

It's most certainly Tua Tagovailoa time for Miami and the spotlight is on the second-year QB, who will hopefully see a bit of action, along with first-round Fins rookies Jaylen Waddle and Jaelan Phillips. Though Bears fans will likely have to wait longer than they’d like for Justin Fields take over as the regular-season starter, they should delight at the prospect of seeing the No. 11 overall selection's preseason debut.

Drew Lock will get the start for the Broncos as one of the league's most publicized QB battles -- Lock and Teddy Bridgewater -- ramps up. Meanwhile in Minnesota, QBs have been at the forefront of the news cycle, as well, and though Kirk Cousins isn't likely to see much, if any, action, a Kellen Mond debut could be in the cards along with more of Jake Browning, who got all the practice reps a week earlier.

Uncertainty abounds from kicker to cornerback to quarterback with New Orleans, but it is the latter that will take center stage as Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston battle to become the first QB1 in the post-Drew Brees era. An emphasis all offseason has been Lamar Jackson improving the deep ball and balancing the offense, but heading into the preseason opener, the team's first unofficial depth chart has Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins sharing RB1 status. Who will start stronger out of the gates?

It's anybody's guess the amount of run, if any at all, that the Browns stars will get. One player to watch who's certain to get some action is second-year receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones -- a rising contributor on the standout-laden squad. For the Jaguars, this is a historic preseason game as it will mark the first professional game coached by Urban Meyer and the first professional action seen by 2021 NFL Draft No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence (also Tim Tebow playing tight end for all the world to see).

Thirty minutes after the No. 1 pick of the draft is set to take the field, the No. 2 pick will follow when Zach Wilson sees his first Jets action -- with Robert Saleh also making his head-coaching debut. As for the G-Men, one thing to monitor will be rookie first-round wide receiver Kadarius Toney's role in the offense.

While the Bengals' 2020 first-round pick Joe Burrow is unlikely to play this preseason, the team's 2021 first-round selection Ja'Marr Chase should be poised to offer a sampling of what to look for this regular season. As for the Bucs, the Super Bowl champs have all 22 of their big-game starters back and they should be out there, including Tom Brady, as the reigning Super Bowl MVP is set for some playing time.

There's an abundance of starting spots up for grabs on a Texans roster that has few familiar faces from last year, but the QB1 spot is likely to be occupied by veteran Tyrod Taylor. It'll be interesting to see how Taylor fairs, but might a first look at a potential Texans QB of the future be had when rookie Davis Mills garners some snaps? And finally, after his first-round selection shook the NFL world in 2020, Jordan Love makes his Packers debut. Love is poised to get plenty of PT this August.

Whether or not Patrick Mahomes is out there, it will be intriguing to get a glimpse of how the Chiefs' reassembled offensive line appears, particularly the ballyhooed additions of Orlando Brown and Joe Thuney. Though the 49ers have been steadfast that Jimmy Garoppolo is the starter, Trey Lance has dazzled in camp and will introduce himself to an NFL audience.

Though Russell Wilson is unlikely to see too much playing time if any, Saturday will mark the first look at Shane Waldron's new-look Seahawks offense as the former Rams passing game coordinator takes on the OC role in Seattle. There are certainly teams who could use a veteran quarterback and the Raiders will feature one of the most enticing backups around currently as Marcus Mariota will showcase his skills and might well have plenty of eyes on him.

The Bolts will play for the first time with Brandon Staley as head coach and they'll do so with Staley going up against the team he was the defensive coordinator for just last season. Therefore, the NFL's reigning No. 1 defense of the Rams will see live action under new defensive coordinator Raheem Morris for the initial time, as well, in this preseason battle for L.A.

Sunday, Aug. 15

With Carson Wentz on the mend, the Colts could turn to second-year pro Jacob Eason or rookie Sam Ehlinger to lead them into the regular season and Sunday will be the first chance to see each of them likely get a good run of playing time. The Panthers will not provide a glimpse of their new starting quarterback in former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold, as coach Matt Rhule is sitting his starters, but P.J. Walker will start at QB and the dynamic former XFL standout got some time last season and has an opportunity to show he's one of the better and more versatile backups around.

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