Tom Brady, Sam Darnold and other reasons to watch Week 2 of NFL preseason

Jay Asser 20:59 15/08/2018
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Week 2 of the NFL preseason has a bit to live up to after an entertaining opening weekend not only saw the return of football, but showcased exciting rookies and veterans coming back from injury.

The second week of exhibitions should only expand on that, while giving us a first look at stars who were held out of their team’s opener, including a quarterback who threw for over 500 yards in the Super Bowl the last time he was on the field.

Super Bowl rematch

The New England Patriots will host the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday in a contest with stakes a little lower than their February meeting.

It won’t offer anywhere close to the electricity of the Super Bowl or even a rematch in the regular season meeting, but as far as preseason games are concerned, this one has plenty going for it.

The Patriots faithful at Gillette Stadium will be charged up to give the Eagles a proper welcome and Philadelphia’s players should be equally up for ruining the atmosphere.

But all eyes will be on Tom Brady, who is expected to see his first competitive action in his 19th season.

Now 41, Brady’s age has so far just been a number, but quarterback declines are often sharp. As unlikely as a severe drop-off for Brady seems, it will be interesting to see if he still looks like himself – although the appropriate sample size for that won’t come in this game alone.

Sam the man?

After an impressive debut in Week 1, New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold will try for a worthy encore to continue making his case for the starting spot.

Darnold actually received first-team reps in practice this past week, so it seems his initial showing was good enough to get head coach Todd Bowles’ attention.

Against Washington on Thursday, the Jets may decide to put Darnold in the game earlier than last week, when he came on in the second quarter and operated against Atlanta’s backups.

But with Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater sitting ahead of him on the depth chart, New York could roll out the same pecking order again.

Quarterback mania

If you love a good quarterback battle, the clash between the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills on Friday is a tasty one.

On one side, the Browns finally look to be in a favourable position with a more-than-capable veteran in Tyrod Taylor and hotshot rookie Baker Mayfield. On the other, the Bills job seems up for grabs with a three-way competition between A.J. McCarron, Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen in the works.

Allen, the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft, is the most intriguing option with his big arm and raw talent. He was up and down in his debut so a more consistent showing in Week 2 would bolster his case to start in the regular season opener.

For Cleveland, there’s also added intrigue thanks to the team being featured on ‘Hard Knocks’. Can Mayfield continue to be the star of the show, on and off the field?

Bear down

The Chicago Bears will be a team to keep an eye on this week – and for the rest of preseason – for a variety of reasons.

For one, the Bears may finally have Roquan Smith on the field after the rookie linebacker ended his holdout this week. It would be a quick turnaround, but not out of the realm of possibility.

On the other side of the ball, Mitchell Trubisky should get more work with the offence after attempting just four throws last week. The second-year quarterback is adjusting to life in a new system under first-year head coach Matt Nagy, so game-time action will be vital in getting him ready for the regular season.

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