After a warmup of three games on the NFL schedule Wednesday night, the rest of the teams are in action tonight to close out the Preseason. Here is where the starters will only play a series or two, at most, before letting the guys at the end of the bench fight for the last ten or so spots on the 53-man roster.
This is going to be a lengthy column, so we will get down to business. Grab yourself a beverage of choice and possibly a snack, and we will tell you about the rest of the Mountaineers in action tonight.
Jets vs. Eagles 6:35 pm ET
Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan has already announced that his starters will not play in this game. Ellis Lankster sat out last weekend’s game against the Panthers with a quadriceps injury. He has not practiced so far this week, and his status is unclear for this game.
Lankster was one of the stars in Jets camp until his injury. He has a chance to be the team’s number 3 corner behind Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis.
Panthers vs. Steelers 7:00 pm ET
After the Steelers cut Mortty Ivy (due to injury) and the Panthers placed Brandon Hogan on season-ending IR (knee), only two Mountaineers will play in this game.
Will Johnson is looking to lock down the starting fullback job for the Steelers in his rookie season.
“The biggest thing I’m getting from coaches and veteran players,” Johnson told us, ” is just to continue to be consistent everyday. I’m always tough on myself, so I personally would like to improve some technical things.”
Expect for him to get many opportunities to nail down the job in this game. Currently, he is the only fullback on the roster, and first year offensive coordinator Todd Haley wants to feature a fullback more in the offense. Johnson’s ability to run passing routes, blocking and being able to line up at tight end could make him a valuable member of the team.
It will be interesting to see how much Ryan Mundy plays. Although normally not a starter for the team as he back up Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, he will start in Week 1 against the Broncos in Denver for Clark.
Bills vs. Lions 7:00 pm ET
The Bills are 0-3 in the Preseason and FB Corey McIntyre hasn’t found a way to get involved with the offense yet. The Bills only used a FB to start one game last season as McIntyre’s time in the offensive backfield dwindled. Where he really shows up is on special teams.
Chiefs vs. Packers 7:oo pm ET NFL Network
Don Barclay went from an unknown on the team when he signed as a rookie-free agent. Throughout the Preseason, the Packers have dealt with depth problems on the offensive line due to injury. Don Barclay has stepped in and played at every position except center for the team at some point in games or practice. He could play center eventually as well.
Barclay has a good chance to make the team. Here is a great article detailing his rookie camp with the Packers: Packers rookie Barclay staying in the zone
One of the great stories of the NFL this Preseason is Darius Reynaud. After getting cut by the Giants last season because of injury, the Mountaineer WR sat out of football for a year. The Titans signed him to a contract during the offseason and switched him to RB, where he played in high school.
He came out in Week 1 of the Preseason against Bruce Irvin and the Seahawks and stole the show with touchdowns on back-to-back touches during the third quarter. One on a punt return, the other on a rushing play.
His great play continued the next week when he led the team in rushing again and nearly broke another punt return for a touchdown.
The question going into Week 3 was, where does Reynaud fit on the team? Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer will handle the majority of the workload at running back, and Michael Molinari was an All-Pro punt returner for the team the previous season. The picture became clearer when, unfortunately, Molinari broke his leg during the game and will be out for the season.
Bengals vs. Colts 7:00 pm ET
The Bengals placed Robert Sands on season-ending IR after he had to have surgery on his chest. He suffered the injury playing special teams for the team against the Falcons.
Adam Pacman Jones could field punts from Mountaineer Pat McAfee if he plays. He has sat out the last two games with a leg injury.
Bears vs. Browns 7:30 pm ET
The Bears have two linebacker slots to be decided in this game, and J.T. Thomas is going to play most of the game.
“All of those guys are going to play a lot in the games and this is huge for them,” Bears LB coach Bob Babich said. “J.T. Thomas has had a good training camp, Jabara (Williams) has come on lately …Patrick Trahan, Xavier Adibi … all of those guys are going to get a good look so you never know what’s going to happen.”
Thomas has played as the primary backup at OLB so far this Preseason and has been a key contributor on special teams.
Raiders vs. Seahawks 10:00 pm ET
So far this Preseason, Irvin does not have one sack or tackle to his credit. The only type of stat he shows is a lone quarterback hit - on Peyton Manning, no less. for West Virginia Mountaineers fans. Could Bruce Irvin butt heads with Owen Schmitt?If you are a stats guy, that is a disappointment. However, Irvin has shown a nice progression of putting pressure on the quarterback through the first three games. Will he break through with a sack in the Preseason finale?
One interesting note on Schmitt – who seems to have the starting fullback job wrapped up for the Raiders – he lined up at receiver a couple of times last week.