Friday, August 9, 2013
Previewing preseason Week 1
By Kevin Seifert
In which we look ahead to Week 1 of the 2013 preseason. All four NFC North teams will take the field Friday night. Rob Demovsky will have a preview of the Green Bay Packers' game against the Arizona Cardinals, and our friends at ESPNChicago.com handled pregame coverage of the Chicago Bears' matchup at the Carolina Panthers.
Opponent: New York Jets
Location: Ford Field
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: Starters will probably play a couple of series, but some are expected to sit out. Atop that list is safety Louis Delmas (knee), whose limited work in training camp suggests the Lions wouldn't risk him in a preseason game. Fans at Ford Field will have their first chance to see tailback Reggie Bush in the Lions' offense, and everyone is looking forward to seeing place-kicker Havard Rugland -- aka "Kickalicious" -- see his first action in a live game. Rugland didn't look out of place in training camp practices earlier this week. Also, it will be fun to watch the Lions try out a number of candidates for their kickoff and punt return roles. Rookie Steven Miller is inexperienced but fast, quick and has the look of a playmaker.
Focal point: Three days at Lions training camp revealed that they could face some intriguing bottom-of-the-roster decisions. The Lions are deep at tight end and running back, especially, and it makes you wonder whether they can afford to keep a No. 3 quarterback. Part of that decision includes the level of competence that Kellen Moore and Thaddeus Lewis demonstrate in preseason games.
Opponent: Houston Texans
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: A number of front-line players aren't expected to be in uniform, including defensive end Jared Allen (ankle). Cornerback Xavier Rhodes and linebacker Desmond Bishop were also nursing relatively minor injuries this week and could miss the game. Coach Leslie Frazier has said that tailback Adrian Peterson will get some work in the preseason, but it's not clear if that will come Friday or at some other point. The rest of the starters could play as much as a quarter.
Focal point: We'll get our first real look at Joe Webb on the other side of his transition from quarterback to receiver/all-purpose playmaker. In training camp, Webb demonstrated excellent hands and catching radius but seemed to be laboring under the raw amount of running a receiver does in an NFL training camp. We all know he was an excellent open-field runner for a quarterback, but he won't have the advantage of surprising defenses anymore. Preseason games are important in this kind of situation. Webb must demonstrate enough playmaking capacity for the Vikings to use one of their 53 roster spots on him. Otherwise, it's difficult to carry a "developmental" player who is in the final year of his contract.