Top storylines for Week 2 of the NFL preseason

By Vincent Frank
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The initial slate of NFL preseason action this past week didn’t really solve a lot around the league. For the most part, teams put players on the field who likely won’t make regular-season rosters.

That changes heading into Week 2 starting Thursday evening. Starters will play a quarter-plus of action. Teams will understand better where they stand heading into the regular season.

Rookie quarterbacks Daniel Jones and Kyler Murray will look to continue the excellent play we saw in Week 1. Fellow first-year signal caller Dwayne Haskins must rebound from a horrible debut to have a chance at the Redskins’ starting quarterback job.

These are among the top storylines for Week 2 of the NFL preseason.

Take two in the nation’s capital 

Dwayne Haskins’ NFL debut against the Browns last week could have gone better, putting it mildly. He threw two interceptions, including a pick-six. The game looked too fast for this rookie first-round pick. He struggled with processing and accuracy throughout the evening. That’s the bad news. The good news? Haskins had a very mature response to his initial struggles and the Redskins have not ruled him out from being the Week 1 starter.

This week’s game will be big for both Case Keenum and Mr. Haskins as the two look to unseat Colt McCoy from the No. 1 spot on Washington’s depth chart. It comes against a questionable Bengals defense at home. Things should be cleared up some heading into the all-important third preseason game. 

Another tune-up for Kyler Murray

This reigning Heisman winner was about as good as could be expected in his preseason debut last week. Now heading into the Cardinals’ second game, the expectation is that Murray will see even more action. In fact, it would not be a surprise if he went more than a quarter Thursday evening. 

It also comes against a weak Raiders defense in a game that should help Murray further solidify his status as an electric Year 1 performer. Sure we have to expect some struggles here and there. But it sure looks like Murray has taken control of first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. 

Major test for Josh Allen, Bills offense

The second-year quarterback looked pretty good in his preseason debut last week. Allen completed 6-of-11 passes for 66 yards without an interception against Indianapolis. That latter note is pretty big given the struggles he had holding on to the ball as a rookie last season. Now set to take on a good Panthers defense in Carolina, this week’s game is big for Allen. 

Equally as important, the Bills want to continue building chemistry between Allen and new receivers Cole Beasley and John Brown. We’re also intrigued to see how rookie running back Devin Singletary looks after a solid debut. He could potentially push LeSean McCoy off Buffalo’s roster with continued success. 

Josh Rosen still needs to prove himself 

Rosen was not great or terrible in his preseason debut with the Dolphins last week. In fact, he looked much better when the Dolphins offense, under first-year coordinator Chad O’Shea, went with the hurry up. There’s a chance that the Dolphins could test this out at a larger clip Friday against a suspect Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. 

All said, Rosen completed 13-of-20 passes for 191 yards with an interception last week. He must do more to even have a chance to beat out veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick for the Dolphins’ starting job. It’s as simple as that. 

Continued domination for Browns offense? 

Baker Mayfield and Cleveland’s No. 1 offense scored a touchdown in its only drive last week against the Washington Redskins. It was about the most impressive performance we could have expected from this potentially dominant offense to start the summer. Mayfield and Co. are expected to play more this week against the Indianapolis Colts.

It also provides the Browns with an opportunity to prove that they can drive up and down the field against a pretty good defense. With Odell Beckham Jr. potentially set to make his Browns debut in this one, it’s going to be fun to see how Cleveland’s first-team offense clicks in somewhat extended action. 

The future of the New York Giants

To say that Daniel Jones outplayed Eli Manning in his NFL preseason debut last week would be an understatement. He led the Giants down the field for a touchdown in his only drive of the game. Meanwhile, Manning went three-and-out, leading to the boo-birds coming out in New Jersey

If the Giants were smart against the Chicago Bears Friday night, they’d get a look at how Jones looks with reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, running back Saquon Barkley, on the field. After all, these are the two future faces of the Giants’ organization following the trade of Odell Beckham Jr. and with Manning in his golden years. Barkley could make his 2019 preseason debut this week.

Jimmy Garoppolo’s return to action 

For the first time since suffering a torn ACL back in Week 3 of last season, this franchise quarterback will be back on the field for his San Francisco 49ers. It’s been a long time coming. Garoppolo is entering pretty much a make-or-break year after having started a combined 10 regular-season games throughout his five-year career. 

Garoppolo is also going to be tested big time against the Broncos in Denver. First-year Broncos head coach Vic Fangio is a genius on the defensive side of the ball. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will see some action, testing an improved 49ers offensive line in the process. It should be fun. 

Extended action for Cowboys and Rams offenses 

This week’s game between Dallas and Los Angeles will be interesting in that it’s going to pit Dak Prescott against Jared Goff without the two team’s star running backs in the mix. As you already know, Ezekiel Elliott continues to be a holdout from Cowboys camp. Meanwhile, the Rams are highly unlikely to even consider playing Todd Gurley at any point in the preseason. 

Both Prescott and Goff want extensions. For his part, Dallas’ starter is said to potentially be demanding a record pay day. As it relates to Goff, it doesn’t look like the Rams are prepared to commit to him long-term after struggles during the latter half of last season. For an otherwise meaningless preseason game, this one is going to be interesting. 

Improvement from Vikings offense?

That’s the name of the game in Minnesota. If these Vikings want to contend in the NFC North this coming season, they are going to need a whole lot more from high-priced veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins. It really is that simple.

Set to take on a good Seattle Seahawks defense at home this week, the Vikings have an opportunity to show that they have improved on offense. That includes pass protection in front of Mr. Cousins and renewed depth behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs at receiver.