- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Last week of the preseason was the “dress rehearsal.” This week is all about survival.
The final preseason game is upon us with another four games in the AFC East. Avoiding injuries are the biggest key. But here are some other things to watch:
No. 1: Can Patriots prepare Jeff Demps?
Thoughts: The New England Patriots have a great opportunity to prepare Jeff Demps in the fourth preseason game. Demps was a late arrival after winning a silver medal in the Olympics. Demps performed well in his NFL debut. He rushed for 41 yards and had two kickoff returns and one punt return. New England should play Demps as much as possible Wednesday night against the New York Giants. He missed all of training camp and half the preseason.
No. 2: How many reps for Ryan Tannehill?
Thoughts: The Miami Dolphins are in a very tricky spot with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The first-round pick and Week 1 starter needs the reps. However, the purpose of this game is to exit injury-free. Tannehill will play Wednesday against the Dallas Cowboys. However, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin should put the rookie on a pitch count. Tannehill should play at least on full quarter to prepare for the Houston Texans in the regular-season opener.
No. 3: Is Tarvaris Jackson ready?
Thoughts: The Buffalo Bills need to get new quarterback Tarvaris Jackson quickly acclimated to their offense in the preseason finale against the Detroit Lions. Jackson will be the No. 2 quarterback this year behind starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Jackson probably will run basic plays this week but needs to be a fast learner in the event Fitzpatrick suffers an early-season injury.
No. 4: Can Jason Smith contribute?
Thoughts: The Jets made a swap for struggling right tackles this week. New York acquired Jason Smith of the St. Louis Rams in exchange for Wayne Hunter. Smith is a draft bust and former No. 2 overall pick. He still has some promise and will play a limited role as the third tackle off the bench. Smith should get plenty of playing time.
3dField Yates and Rich Cimini