We have arrived. The final NFL preseason game is upon us. Final cuts are due at 4 PM ET on Saturday, August 31st. You can bet that a large portion of the players taking the field on both sides of the ball today will either find themselves moving to another city for a shot they cannot get with their current franchise or back at home trying to find a way to make ends meet.
Still, teams will give some of the players fighting for a few roster spots a chance to really shine. While we won’t get a definitive answer prior to the game as to who will definitely not play, here is a guess at some players who may be worth watching.
Rookie draft picks Bobby Okereke and E.J. Speed are still trying to work their way into a larger role on the regular season roster. There is a chance that at least one of the two will get a long look from the coaching staff tonight. While they are currently not slated to play the same position, they could be pushing out players who earned roster spots last year.
With Nate Hairston gone, the battle for the final roster spots at cornerback is likely now down to Marvell Tell III and Jalen Collins. Assuming the team keeps special teams ace Chris Milton, there are already five corners who will likely be on the roster on opening day. Collins has been picked apart all training camp. Tell has shown some signs of improvement as he transitions to a new role.
The player who has a better showing tonight could send the other to waivers.
While Kemoko Turay could see some time with the first team, an opportunity to continue an impressive preseason performance, the defensive line competitions that matter are likely between Gerri Green and Carroll Phillips at end and Caraun Reid and Sterling Shippy on the interior. The defensive line group is crowded and it will take a pretty impressive showing for a player at the bottom of the roster to feel safe.
With the surprising retirement of Andrew Luck last weekend, the quarterback discussion has changed considerably. Now there is little doubt that Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly are in a fight for a long-term spot on the roster. To this point, it has been all Chad Kelly. The only question that remains, can Phillip Walker at least show enough to make the Colts confident enough to not bring in an outside player for the first two weeks?
It seems unlikely that Deon Cain will take the field tonight, given what is at stake and where we are in the preseason process. This could leave Krishawn Hogan, Zach Pascal, and Marcus Johnson to battle it out for what could be one spot on the roster. Pascal’s special teams talents could push him over the top and back onto the roster but Hogan has looked sharp this preseason and could be deserving of a strong look. Johnson has to be considered the last likely of the three to make the roster at this point.
The biggest battle to close out this preseason is likely for the final tight end spot. Ross Travis and Hale Hentges may be the most likely candidates to take the field on offense to earn a meaningful role on the regular season roster. Who will it be? The rangy former basketball player with speed or the Jack Doyle close who seems able to do it all?
The running back position has been a mess over the last two weeks. Jordan Wilkins has been nursing a foot injury and Jonathan Williams suffered a cracked rib. Both are likely questionable to play in the season opener at this point. Does this open up a crazy outside chance for Charcandrick West to push his way onto the depth chart?
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7pm PM ET on Thursday August 29, 2019
Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, OH
Courtesy of 506 Sports, here are the local television listings:
WXIN (FOX/59 - Indianapolis)
WBKI (CW/58 - Louisville)
WFFT (FOX/55 - Fort Wayne IN)
WCWW (CW/25 - South Bend IN)
WTWO (NBC/2 - Terre Haute IN)
WPBY (ABC/35 - Lafayette IN)
WEHT (ABC/25 - Evansville IN)
WCIA (CBS/3 - Champaign IL)
Play-By-Play: Greg Rakestraw
Color Analyst: Rick Venturi
Sideline: Larra Overton
WFNI (107.5FM/1070 The Fan) and WLHK (Country 97.1 Hank FM)
Play-By-Play: Matt Taylor
Color Analyst: Jim Sorgi
Sideline: Jeffrey Gorman
Land Clark (referee tryout; Carl Cheffers crew) “Enemy” Blog
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