What to Watch for Preseason: 5 sizzling players to keep an eye on tonight

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NFL preseason games kick off tonight
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson runs during an NFL football practice in Berea, Ohio, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

The first week of the NFL preseason is underway. While the Giants played Thursday evening, a total of five football games are expected to kick off tonight, the Jets being one of those teams. 

While all of New York will turn to see how the Jets do under the second year of the Robert Saleh era, there are still plenty of names to keep an eye on, outside of the Jets, that you should follow as the first week of preseason games kick off tonight. 

Top Overall Picks in preseason action

Both Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson are expected to play today with the Lions hosting Atlanta, and the Jags facing off against Cleveland. Many draft analysts were surprised when Walker was the selection over Hutchinson, but he performed well in the Hall-of-Fame game against Las Vegas. 

Hutchinson is going up against a Falcons team that is pretty bad on paper. Outside of Kyle Pitts, the offense is barren of talent at skill positions and the offensive line. This should leave for some nice pickings for Hutchinson to make his mark in a big way this evening. 

Walker on the other hand is taking on a very good Browns squad. While most of the Cleveland offense is expected to play, it gives Walker a good opportunity to go up against one of the top offensive lines in the league. 

Both Hutchinson and Walker will be fun players to watch tonight, and throughout the preseason.  

Allen Lazard

The Packer’s number one wide receiver isn’t Davante Adams anymore. Allen Lazard is expected to get the bulk of the targets as the new top receiver for Aaron Rodgers. While Rodgers isn’t expected to play tonight, Lazard can get viable reps with Jordan Love against a top defense in the San Francisco 49ers. 

A strong preseason game would help quell some of the fears that Green bay fans have had since the trade of Davante Adams. It’s not the same as Rodgers, but if Lazard can play well tonight against that defense, it would go a long way. 

Deshaun Watson

Objectively, it’s extremely weird that a quarterback who is currently suspended for six games for sexual misconduct is allowed to start for his team during a preseason game. Still, there’s a to watch in this Jaguars/Browns contest and it stems from the quarterback position for Cleveland. 

This is what the Browns signed up for when they traded for Watson this off-season. Every game will be highlighted by the potential absence or play of a quarterback who was accused of sexual assault by 24 women. It doesn’t matter if he settled the suits or not, this cloud will follow Watson throughout his career and it will even continue tonight, and through the entire preseason. 

Trey Lance

The San Francisco 49ers have officially begun the Trey Lance era this offseason. Tonight against the Green Bay Packers will be the first time we see Lance as the de-facto starting quarterback for a 49ers team that was a win away last year from the Super Bowl. 

While JimmyG is still on the roster, and the longer he is, the more controversy it will bring, Lance will have the ability to play with the full slate of starters today. It’s important because the Packer’s defense is one of the best in football. A strong showing from Lance will be huge for 49er fans as San Fran looks to get back to the conference title. 

Bengals new-look OL

The Cincinnati Bengals had a magical 2021 ride to their third Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. While the run behind Joe Burrow and an underrated defense was special, it’s important to note the fatal flaw in the team was always the offensive line. 

It’s hard to easily say that Burrow and the Bengal’s high-flying offense can withstand another bad offensive line pairing. Luckily, general manager Mike Brown did a solid job in making sure that the offensive line was solidified in the offseason and should be much better in 2022. Against a Cardinals pass rush that is pretty solid tonight, the first team for the new-look offensive line will be an excellent one. 

Burrow isn’t going to be playing, and there’s little expectation behind Brandon Allen, but the group must perform well tonight. 

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