The most important week of the NFL Preseason for starters – or those hoping to start – is here. Week 3 is the only week where teams will game plan for their upcoming opponents and the starters typically play about three quarters. The first round of cut-downs will take place after this weekend.
For non-starters, we get an idea of how their coaches will use them to rotate in and out when the regular season kicks off.
Preseason Week 2 wasn’t as prolific for Mountaineers in the NFL as Week 1. In Week 1, Darius Reynaud had 2 touchdowns for the Titans against the Seahawks. In Week 2, Reynaud did not find the end zone but still led the team in rushing and almost broke another punt return for a touchdown. What will he do in Week 3? We will discuss the Titans game against the Cardinals below with four other Mountaineers in action tonight.
Packers vs. Bengals 7:00 p.m.
Don Barclay signed with the Packers after going undrafted. At the beginning of camp, he was considered a long shot to make the team. However, because of injuries to starters on the Packers’ offensive line, Barclay has seen his number called often in practice and during the first two weeks of games.
Against the Chargers in Week 1, Barclay came in during the first half and played most of the game. Last week against the Browns, Barclay played on 29 downs.
As we pointed out above, Week 3 is when the starters will get the most playing time. Has Barclay differentiated himself enough to see significant playing time against the Bengals?
Robert Sands has had a quiet training camp. That does not bode well for the second-year player trying to make the roster in a crowded defensive backfield. The area where Sands shined the most is on special teams. This is the area where Sands will probably play the most tonight. He blocked a punt that was later recovered for a touchdown in Week 1 against the Jets.
Sands missed several days of camp with an undisclosed injury. He missed Tuesday’s practice but is expected to play.
Also suffering through injuries is Adam Pacman Jones. Marvin Lewis and his coaching staff are taking a patient approach with Jones while the competition among cornerbacks is among the most heated position battles in camp. Lewis knows what Jones brings to the table when healthy. Jones will not play tonight.
Jaguars vs. Ravens 7:30
Gino Gradkowski started at center in place of Matt Birk for the Ravens in Week 1 against the Falcons and played most of the game. Birk started last week against the Lions. The Ravens drafted Gradkowski to be be their center of the future, but as long as Birk is healthy, the Mountaineer’s place will be to learn behind the veteran.
Cardinals vs. Titans 8:00 ESPN
The Titans converted Reynaud from wide receiver to running back when they signed him to a Future’s Contract during the off-season. The move has paid dividends for both Reynaud and the Titans as the Mountaineer helped score the two touchdowns in Week 1 to bury the Seahawks. Last week against the Bucs, Reynaud played during the first half with the starters and had 75 yards on 7 carries and was the Titans’ leading rusher to go along with 2 punt returns for 49 and 1 long kick return for 42 more.
“The times I get the ball, I have to take advantage of the opportunities,” Reynaud said. “I had a couple I could have scored on, but maybe next time.”
The question tonight will be how much will Reynaud play? He will certainly return kicks and punts.
The team has All-Pro Chris Johnson at tailback and likes 4th year man Javon Ringer as a change-of-pace back. Where will Reynaud get carries?
The answers to those questions could go a long way towards getting answered tonight.