Daily Focus: 5 players to watch in preseason Week 3
Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
Five players PFF analysts are excited to watch this week
Week 3 of the preseason is traditionally the first outing that the first-team offenses and defenses get extended playing time, ergo making it the most interesting and relevant for evaluation. With that being said, here are the new starters we want to see, for no other reason than to get a better handle on who they are as players:
Tony Lippett, CB, Dolphins
The more I can see of Lippett at corner, the better, considering he’s only played 231 snaps there over the previous two seasons. He has the ideal height (6-foot-2) and length (32.75-inch arms) for the new-age NFL, and in his limited snaps, he’s graded out very well. Let’s see how he does against Julio Jones and company Thursday night.
Tajae Sharpe, WR, Titans
Is it possible that almost everyone was wrong about Sharpe, and he truly can be a No. 1 receiver in this league? All signs seem to be pointing that way. In 29 snaps this preseason, Sharpe has hauled in all eight of his targets for 103 yards.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Browns
Is 19 preseason dropbacks too early to declare RG III as “back”? The former Rookie of the Year can still drop it in a bucket down the field; now we want to see him lead a few extended drives. He’s graded positively as a passer in both games this preseason.
Pump the brakes on Griffin for fantasy.
RG3 is getting plenty of preseason hype, but Dan Schneier says it’s a bit much for now.
Matt Longacre, DE, Rams
Through two weeks, the undrafted defensive end has one dominant performance and one so-so performance, totaling the highest grade of any defensive lineman so far. This comes a year after he was one of the highest-graded defensive ends in the preseason as a rookie in 2015. He’ll get a chance to feast on an iffy Broncos’ line Saturday night, and could legitimately challenge for snaps along that loaded line this year.
Justin Britt, C, Seahawks
It’s safe to say that Britt looks like a completely different player than we’ve seen at any point in the past this preseason, but that comes only 51 snaps in (less than a normal NFL game). He’s had dominant single outings in the past, so we want to really see if this isn’t a fluke. Center seems a much better fit for Britt, though, as he has less space to cover and is dealing with far slower defensive tackles than he’d find out wide.
Why C Bryan Stork could be Redskins’ Week 1 starter—if he doesn’t retire
If you followed the newswire at all yesterday, you know that Bryan Stork was released, traded, and retired all in the course of a few hours. In the end Stork, has been traded to the Redskins for a seventh-round pick, but he’s still reportedly contemplating retirement. Stork has never been a top-flight center—or ever graded positively, for that matter—though that doesn’t mean he won’t be an upgrade in Washington. Kory Lichtensteiger had the fifth-worst grade of any center in the league last year on only 376 snaps, as he blew up many runs with otherwise competent blocking all along the offensive line. It’s a tad late in the preseason to be adding new starters, but I’d put my money on Stork being the Week 1 starter if he doesn’t in fact retire.
J.C. Tretter a good replacement for Packers C Corey Linsley
Wednesday was obviously a big news day for centers across the league, as it came to light that Packers’ center Corey Linsley tore his hamstring not once, but twice this offseason. That’s not good news whatsoever, and it remains to be seen if he ends up just on the PUP and not the IR. If there is a silver lining, though, it’s that now-starter J.C. Tretter is more than a competent replacement. He graded positively in 352 snaps at center a season ago, and may have been the starter at center all along had an ankle injury not cost him his rookie season.