NORMALLY I would do a Four Things article here. Just to get in a little “Live” practice. Like the players will be doing. Or should be doing. Instead, since the starters will play less than a quarter, I’m going to focus more on players, than on tactics this week. Besides, no one is game-planning for this game anyway. Why should I outwork the coaches?
Yes. For the 7 downs that he plays, I will be looking for how fast the ball comes out of QB Jalen Hurts hand, after his dropback. Yes. I will have an eye on WR Jalen Reagor as the team showcases him as trade bait. Yes, I will watch the Jalens. That said, my real focus Friday night, will be elsewhere.
There are certain players that have piqued my interest over the offseason. Some players that I’m flat-out rooting for: FS Marcus Epps, WR Britain Covey, TE Jack Stoll, (all of whom I wrote articles about in THE 12 ), and CB Zech MacPhearson.
Then there are players with stories that have intrigued me: WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s transition to TE; WR Quez Watkins usage in the Slot; LB Patrick Johnson in his second year; and the rejuvenation of CB James Bradberry, whom I erroneously referred to in May , as a “fading star”.
There won’t be any deep strategizing– (isn’t it weird when you have to add a word to Word’s dictionary?) –so instead of trying to separate gnat shit from pepper, I’ll have my eye on a few of these guys tomorrow night. Namely, Covey (during kick returns), Stoll (as a receiving option), JJAW (specifically his in-line blocking); and Johnson (getting snaps at DE vs true LB).
Preseason games have always been watered down events, but ever since this latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, coaches are more concerned with making sure their starters are available Week One, than making sure that the team is any good for Week One.
So, during this game, we’ll get one or two series of the players we paid to see, then an hour of back-ups, followed by Practice Squaders and guys who’ll be at your job, filling out applications in three weeks. (Wow. I almost said something waaaaay depressing here. Something about euthanizing a dream. Quick! Here’s a picture of a cute piglet.)
In the meantime, tomorrow we’ll get to see the sausage get made, and hear every chop and squeal. So I don’t think I really need to roll out a full-on, Four Things article for this game. I’m just going to keep an eye on FOUR GUYS, while I eat Five Guys. Then I’ll write about them, so we can start to build a working picture of how deep, multi-faceted, and resilient this team really is.