Wow, so pumped just to be typing the words preseason game 1. COVID-19 wrecked any opportunity to have any preseason at all last year, but this season, we not only get THREE preseason games but we also get an extra regular season game to make it 20 games in total! OK, so preseason isn’t all that, but to me, It’s game action against another team, and I personally believe it’s essential. Practice is practice, against your own guys, but when you face a different team, guys will bring more effort and the competition sparks a little extra than you get in practice. We have such a young team, I think they will benefit from having played these 3 meaningless games. You can laugh all you want at this but Tua not having training camp and preseason games did him no favors last year.
First and foremost we need to come out of the preseason healthy. There are injuries in practice, there are injuries in preseason games and there are injuries in regular season games, but you never want to lose a player before the real season begins. There will be some interesting competitions to watch, not only for starting spots but for roster spots too. There are always surprise cuts and sometimes there are surprises as to who makes the starting roster and this year will be no different. At least this year with training camp, minicamp and the preseason, players will have had a chance to show what they can do and the evaluation process should also be easier for the coaching staff.
I think the most interesting battle in my opinion is the O-line. This is where there is the least rotation and the starting 5 usually get the greater majority of snaps. As of now, the line is as so . . .
I’m not buying this, and I believe by the time the season starts it will either be Eichenberg or Hunt at RT. If it’s Hunt then maybe Eichenberg stays at LG, but if Eichenberg gets the RT spot, I think Kindley settles back in at LG. We know the 3 starting DL in the 3-4 alignment are going to be Wilkins, Davis and Ogbah. I think we also know the 4 starting LB’s in that same 3-4 are AVG, McKinney, Baker and Phillips. I know Phillips has had a slow start and it’s possible he may not start the season the season there but I also know they will give him every opportunity to make it happen. With Howard getting his extension we know it will be Howard and Jones, but then the safety battle will be an interesting one. I think Eric Rowe is safe at SS, but does the wily veteran McCourty start the season at FS, or does 2nd year man Brandon Jones get the nod or does the rookie who looked great against the Bears in practice, Jevon Holland steal that spot?
On offense, I feel like health will determine who starts at the skill positions, WR, TE and RB. If healthy, Parker, Fuller and Wilson, all veterans will “start”. There will be tons of opportunities for the others though and that’s where it comes down to the roster crunch. We know Waddle makes 4, so does that leave 2 more spots or 3? Hollins is the gunner on special teams and that’s an important factor as to why he might make the team as he’s a good one. Grant is an electric returner, a playmaker but his suspect hands (on returns and as a WR) may leave him off the roster. What about Lynn Bowden Jr.? We gave up a 4th RD pick last season to acquire Bowden and he showed some promise, especially late in the season. It would be hard to let him go so if we keep 7 WR’s, all of the above should be in. That means veteran Allen Hurns, Robert Foster, Kirk Merritt, Isaiah Ford, Malcolm Perry all gone but a couple may end up on the PS.
Oh, by the way, Gesicki is back! Can’t wait to see him back in action and watch him get his well deserved new contract! So Hunter Long is NOT gone for the season, that’s also great news! That should leave Gesicki, Shaheen, and either Smythe, Carter or Myarick to go along with Long as the 4th TE. At RB, Gaskin is the lead back followed by Malcolm Brown, Ahmed, Scarlet, Laird and Doaks. Hey, what happened to world beater Doaks you were all telling me about? Sorry, had to get that out! I’m guessing we’ll carry 5, maybe 6 so Doaks has a chance to make the roster. We no longer officially have a FB, so we might carry 6 RB’s.
The game is on NFLN tomorrow afternoon at 1PM. I will record it as I will be working unfortunately, but I’ll get around to watching it at some point, I may stay away from this blog so it won’t spoil the viewing. Enjoy the game, it will be nice to see some of our exciting rookie prospects suit up for the first time, and see the growth of our 2nd year QB. Looking forward to it!