NFL News & Analysis

2023 NFL preseason Week 2 preview: Schedule, storylines and analysis for Saturday's games

2RH6NWG Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) tries to elude New England Patriots defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale, right, during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Saturday brings us the biggest NFL preseason slate of the weekend, with 11 games of action to satiate our football desires and make sweeping generalizations based on a handful of snaps.

The second week of preseason will likely feature more players who will see significant snaps in the 2023 regular season. 

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Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions (1 p.m. ET)

Jaguars focus: Anton Harrison

The former Oklahoma Sooner and 28th selection in the 2023 NFL Draft seemed as advertised in his preseason debut. He didn’t allow a single pressure from 12 pass-blocking snaps, including six true pass sets. He was limited as a run blocker, earning a 51.0 PFF run-blocking grade, thanks to a pair of blown blocks.

If all Harrison is in Year 1 is an above-average pass blocker, it’s going to be a win for the Jaguars. But it would be nice to see more impact in the running game this week.

Lions focus: Jack Campbell and Brian Branch

If Lions fans were already excited about the future, the preseason Week 1 performances of linebacker Jack Campbell and defensive back Brian Branch will have done little to dampen that. Campbell had one of the most impressive debuts among first-round rookies, earning a 90.6 PFF grade while registering two tackles resulting in a defensive stop. Branch saw 15 of his 16 defensive snaps come from the slot and allowed just five yards on two receptions, with both of his tackles in the game resulting in a defensive stop.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell has said starters won't play in Week 2, and that some rookies might not play, though, so we may not get to see Campbell and Branch in action this week.

Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans (4 p.m. ET)

Dolphins focus: De’Von Achane’s usage

How the Dolphins utilize their third-round draft pick is one of the more interesting storylines of the preseason, and we already saw last week that they will get creative to get the ball in his hands. Achane was on the field for 39 total snaps in the team’s preseason opener, lining up in the backfield 27 times and splitting out wide six times. He caught all four passes thrown his way for 41 yards and saw 10 carries.

Achane also saw time as a returner and had a kick return go for 38 yards. He clocked 4.32 seconds in the 40-yard dash, so it seems almost guaranteed that he’s going to break some big plays in the regular season.

Texans focus: C.J. Stroud

While the Texans' offense overall looked solid in their Week 1 preseason game against the Patriots, the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft had a forgettable first taste of NFL action. He earned just a 34.3 PFF passing grade on seven dropbacks.

Still, there are two important caveats here. First, Stroud was under pressure on five of his seven dropbacks, which is about as bad a situation as a rookie quarterback can be in. Second, this was a sample size of just seven dropbacks. So ideally, we’ll see Stroud on the field for longer in Week 2, and we’ll see him get protected to the point where he has time to try and make some plays.

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers (6:30 p.m. ET)

Bills focus: Dalton Kincaid’s usage

Kincaid was on the field for just five snaps in preseason Week 1, with only one of those coming in the passing game. We saw him line up as an in-line tight end on three snaps, and in the slot on the other two. Maybe the Bills are trying to hide his role until the regular season, but how much of a factor can he be in the passing game and how will the Bills line up with him and Dawson Knox on the field together? These are questions we hope to see answered this week.

Steelers focus: Kenny Pickett

Kenny Pickett looked good at the end of the 2022 season, earning a 70.0-plus PFF passing grade in all but one of his final six outings of the year, and that was the game he left after just four dropbacks. He looked good last week, too, going 6-of-7 for 70 yards and a touchdown to George Pickens in limited action.

The Steelers could be better than people expect, even in a tough AFC North. For that to happen, though, we need to see Pickett continue to develop.

Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts (7 p.m. ET)

Bears focus: Justin Fields throwing downfield

Fields went 3-of-3 for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week but averaged -2.3 air yards per passing attempt, with both scores coming from long catch-and-runs. That’s not a knock on Fields — he executed the gameplan for his snaps, and it led to points for the Bears.

That being said, if the Bears are to make some noise in the NFC this year, they are going to need Fields to make plays downfield. Assuming he gets more playing time this week, he'll attempt longer throws, which means he’ll almost definitely have a less efficient game. But the opportunity to earn a higher PFF grade than the 63.1 PFF passing mark he produced last week is there.

Colts focus: Anthony Richardson QB1

Anthony Richardson has officially been named the Colts' starting quarterback for the season opener. It’s the right call, and it’s going to make Indianapolis games more fun at the start of the year. Richardson had a poor throw that resulted in an interception last week, but he bounced back with a big-time throw that should have resulted in a long reception and had some solid throws within structure. Getting more live reps will help him get ready for the season, providing us with plenty of opportunities for excitement in the process.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets (7:30 p.m. ET)

Buccaneers focus: Does Baker Mayfield close out the QB battle here?

A lot of the noise out of training camp for the Buccaneers had been about how Kyle Trask had a real shot at beating Baker Mayfield to be the team’s starting quarterback. That couldn’t have looked further from the truth in their preseason game last week, though. Mayfield went 8-of-9 for 63 yards and a touchdown, earning an 87.7 PFF passing grade. Trask went 6-of-10 for 99 yards and an interception, earning a 57.4 PFF passing grade. If we see a similar performance in this game, it might be time to call the battle in Baker’s favor.

Jets focus: Jermaine Johnson and Will McDonald IV

While Aaron Rodgers and the offense is the big story for the Jets this year, 2022 and 2023 first-round draft picks Jermaine Johnson and Will McDonald IV appear poised to create plenty of disruption off the edge on defense. Johnson saw nine pass-rushing snaps last week, racking up a sack, a hit and a hurry on his way to an 80.2 PFF pass-rushing grade. McDonald produced a sack, a hit and two hurries from 11 pass-rushing opportunities, earning a 76.4 PFF pass-rushing grade. Even in limited snaps they have the ability to make life difficult for Mayfield and Trask in this game.

Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals (8 p.m. ET)

Chiefs focus: Reserve WR battle

The battle for playing time at wide receiver in the Chiefs' offense is heating up, with second-round draft pick Rashee Rice catching three of his four targets last week and Justyn Ross hauling in two passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. Ross left practice earlier this week but was back the following day and has continued to be featured in practice highlights on social media. Both he and Rice have the ability to force their way into bigger roles in the Chiefs' offense if they can continue to stand out.

Meanwhile, Nikko Remigio, an undrafted free agent out of Fresno State, faces an uphill climb to make the roster simply due to the volume of competition but will have made people around the league take notice last week after recording four receptions for 71 yards.

Cardinals focus: Paris Johnson Jr.

Johnson had a solid first outing for the Cardinals in their preseason game against the Broncos, allowing just one pressure from nine pass-blocking snaps. He didn’t have any positively graded plays from his six snaps as a run blocker but didn’t have any negatively graded plays either.

Similar to Anton Harrison for the Jaguars, if Johnson can just be a good pass blocker in Year 1, the Cardinals are going to get value out of him as a rookie. A bigger snap count in this game will allow him to be tested more in both phases.

New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers (8 p.m. ET)

Patriots focus: Keion White

One of the standouts of the opening week of the preseason, White earned an 89.8 PFF grade while lining up all across the defensive line for the Patriots. He fits the mold of a versatile defensive lineman that Bill Belichick loves, seeing 12 snaps against the run and earning a 75.7 PFF run-defense grade while registering a hit and two hurries from 15 pass-rushing snaps. Finishing the game with three tackles resulting in a defensive stop, White could be a big part of the Patriots' defense as a rookie if he can keep this up.

Packers focus: Jordan Love

Jordan Love looked good on his 10 dropbacks against the Bengals, going 7-of-10 for 46 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t make any big-time throws but avoided turnover-worthy plays. Love finished with a 77.8% adjusted completion rate, with one of his three incompletions coming as a result of a batted pass. With talented receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs and rookie tight end Luke Musgrave, Love could surprise a lot of people in 2023.

Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings (8 p.m. ET)

Titans focus: Backup running back

The race to be Derrick Henry’s backup is heating up in Tennessee after third-round rookie Tyjae Spears flashed on six carries last week. He had one run go for 14 yards, also recording 20 of his 32 rushing yards after contact and a single forced missed tackle. He was involved in the passing game, too, seeing one target from five receiving snaps.

Hassan Haskins handled the same number of carries but was held to 12 yards and didn’t see a target from his seven receiving snaps. Julius Chestnut had the best game of any Titans running back last week, picking up 46 yards from seven carries and adding another 15 yards from two receptions.

Vikings focus: Mekhi Blackmon

The Vikings' third-round rookie started the preseason opener, seeing the bulk of his snaps in the slot but playing some outside, too. It wasn’t a great outing, with Blackmon earning a 52.5 PFF coverage grade, allowing two receptions for 28 yards from three targets and committing a penalty. If he is to see starting snaps for the Vikings' defense in 2023, he'll need to display some growth this preseason.

Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers (8:30 p.m. ET)

Broncos focus: Nik Bonitto

The 64th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Bonitto finished his rookie campaign with 19 total pressures from 188 pass-rushing snaps. Seeing time in the first quarter and early part of the second quarter last week, he registered two pressures, both quarterback hurries, from nine pass-rushing snaps and added a tackle resulting in a defensive stop. If he has indeed taken a step forward, it will be a nice boost for the Broncos' edge rusher rotation.

49ers focus: Clelin Ferrell

Ferrell never developed into what the Las Vegas Raiders hoped for when they made him the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, finishing his four-year Raiders career having registered just 98 total pressures from 1,025 pass-rushing snaps. He gets a chance at redemption with the 49ers and started their preseason opener against the Raiders last week, registering a sack from five pass-rushing snaps.

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams (9 p.m. ET)

Raiders focus: Aidan O’Connell

A fourth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Aidan O’Connell had one of the best performances by any quarterback last week. He earned a 90.8 PFF passing grade, going 15-for-18 for 141 yards and a touchdown, with drops accounting for two of his three incompletions.

Jimmy Garoppolo is the Raiders' starting quarterback, but O’Connell could get people in and out of the building excited about his prospects as a developmental quarterback if he can repeat that performance in the final two preseason games.

Rams focus: Tre Tomlinson

The Rams' defense features little NFL experience, and while that may be a concern for the 2023 season, it’s a big opportunity for some of the rookies on the roster to make names for themselves and earn starting roles. One such player is Tre Tomlinson.

A standout at TCU, Tomlinson was drafted by the Rams in the sixth round and started the preseason opener against the Chargers. On the field for 21 coverage snaps, he allowed one reception for eight yards from five targets. Despite being 5-foot-8, a size that can pigeonhole a player into a slot role, Tomlinson was almost exclusively used as an outside cornerback last week.

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks (10 p.m. ET)

Cowboys focus: Jake Ferguson

With Dalton Schultz now a member of the Houston Texans, Jake Ferguson is slated to be the Cowboys' starting tight end in 2023. A fourth-round pick a year ago, he was impressive last week, catching all three targets thrown his way for 38 yards. Second-round pick Luke Schoonmaker saw snaps late in the second quarter but garnered only one target, so Ferguson looks to be in strong position for a featured role in this offense.

Seahawks focus: Devin Bush

Devin Bush earned a 62.9 PFF grade in his rookie season with the Steelers back in 2019, and while that was solid enough for a rookie, it was also a career high by the time his four-year stint with the team came to an end at the end of the 2022 season. He’s still only 25, though, and he can rejuvenate his career in Seattle. In his first action with the team, he earned an 87.3 PFF grade on 29 snaps, missing no tackles and registering two tackles resulting in a defensive stop.


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