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Friday, August 13, 2010
Previewing preseason Week 1

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Here's the best thing I'll say about NFL preseason games: They're not completely worthless.

I can't in good conscience hype up any of them, but I do think we can glean at least some pertinent information. So with that in mind, let's sketch out preseason Week 1 in the NFC North, all of which will take place Saturday night.

Chicago Bears
Opponent:
San Diego Chargers
Location: Qualcomm Stadium
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: Starters could play as much as two quarters. Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna (knee) and wide receiver Earl Bennett (hamstring) might not play.
My focus point: Cohesion of an offensive line that began taking shape this week. Do we see obvious missed assignments and clogged running lanes? Or does the line protect quarterback Jay Cutler and provide room for running backs Matt Forte and Chester Taylor?

Detroit Lions
Opponent:
Pittsburgh Steelers
Location: Heinz Field
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: Running back Kevin Smith (knee), tight end Brandon Pettigrew (knee), safety Louis Delmas (groin), place-kicker Jason Hanson (knee), linebacker DeAndre Levy (back) and defensive end Jared DeVries (leg) are among those who have been ruled out.
My focus point: Will quarterback Matthew Stafford take his sharp practices into a game situation?

Green Bay Packers
Opponent:
Cleveland Browns
Location: Lambeau Field
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: Starters will get about 20 plays of action. Prominent scratches could include linebacker Nick Barnett, safety Will Blackmon (knee), linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) and guard/center Jason Spitz.
My focus point: Does rookie safety Morgan Burnett, who might have to open the season in place of Atari Bigby, know what he's doing?

Minnesota Vikings
Opponent:
St. Louis Rams
Location: Edward Jones Dome
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: Starters will play a couple series at best. Prominent scratches could include receivers Sidney Rice (hip) and Percy Harvin (migraines), center John Sullivan (calf), tailback Adrian Peterson(hamstring), cornerback Cedric Griffin (knee) and linebacker E.J. Henderson (leg).
My focus point:The performance of right cornerback candidates Lito Sheppard, Chris Cook and Asher Allen.