Football is back. All 32 teams have played at least one game. Now it’s on to Week 2 of the preseason with Kickoff Weekend rapidly approaching.
“It felt great to be out on the field competing against an opponent for the first time this year,” says Miami Dolphins quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL, who led an 85-yard drive and threw a touchdown pass in the team’s preseason opener at Chicago last week. “It’s definitely something we can build on and we want to be able to carry that moving forward.”
Six games will be featured on national TV, starting with the Buffalo Bills visiting the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night (8:00 PM ET, ESPN) and concluding with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Cincinnati Bengals in primetime on Monday (8:00 PM ET, ESPN).
Visit NFL.com/Tickets for tickets to NFL preseason games.
|Thursday, August 20||Buffalo at Cleveland||8:00 PM||ESPN|
|Friday, August 21||Seattle at Kansas City||8:00 PM||NFLN|
|Saturday, August 22||Baltimore at Philadelphia||7:00 PM||NFLN|
|Saturday, August 22||San Diego at Arizona||10:00 PM||NFLN|
|Sunday, August 23||St. Louis at Tennessee||8:00 PM||FOX|
|Monday, August 24||Cincinnati at Tampa Bay||8:00 PM||ESPN|
During 13 games this week, the NFL will experiment with eight officials on the field of play.
The league has utilized seven-person officiating crews since 1978 when the side judge was added to the crew.
During this week’s experiment, the eighth official will help further the goal of reducing the number of times an official is responsible for multiple areas of the field that may not be in proximity to each other.
“We are going to look at positioning the eighth official in a couple of different areas,” says NFL Vice President of Officiating DEAN BLANDINO. “We want to try to fill some of the holes that may happen in specific situations over the course of a game.”
In certain games, the eighth official will take a position in the offensive backfield, joining the referee and the umpire. From this location, the “U2” will focus on the center pre-snap and the guard and tackle on the side of the formation closest to where he or she is positioned.
In other games, the eighth official will line up approximately 20 yards downfield from the line of scrimmage. From there, the “CJ” or “center judge” will focus on the center and two guards, with a particular emphasis on spotting defensive holding penalties.
Here are this week’s games with an eighth official:
|Thursday, August 20||Detroit at Washington||CJ|
|Thursday, August 20||Buffalo at Cleveland||U2|
|Friday, August 21||Atlanta at New York Jets||U2|
|Saturday, August 22||Miami at Carolina||U2|
|Saturday, August 22||Baltimore at Philadelphia||U2|
|Saturday, August 22||Chicago at Indianapolis||U2|
|Saturday, August 22||New England at New Orleans||CJ|
|Saturday, August 22||Denver at Houston||CJ|
|Saturday, August 22||Oakland at Minnesota||U2|
|Saturday, August 22||San Diego at Arizona||CJ|
|Sunday, August 23||Dallas at San Francisco||CJ|
|Sunday, August 23||St. Louis at Tennessee||U2|
|Monday, August 24||Cincinnati at Tampa Bay||U2|
Additionally, four preseason games this week – and 10 overall in the first three weeks of the preseason – will feature the testing of Microsoft Surface Tablets for instant replay stoppages. As was the case at the 2015 Pro Bowl, the referee will have the Tablet brought to him on the field so he can review the play without using the sideline monitor.
“The goal of experimenting with the Tablets is to be more efficient in administering replay reviews,” says Blandino. “We would like to determine if we can streamline the process.”
The games to feature the use of a Microsoft Surface Tablet for instant replay reviews in Week 2 of the preseason:
|Friday, August 21||Atlanta at New York Jets|
|Saturday, August 22||Jacksonville at New York Giants|
|Sunday, August 23||Green Bay at Pittsburgh|
|Sunday, August 23||Dallas at San Francisco|
Some of the highlight games in Week 2 of the NFL preseason:
BUFFALO BILLS at CLEVELAND BROWNS (Thursday, ESPN, 8:00 PM ET)
In Buffalo’s preseason opener last week, quarterbacks MATT CASSEL, TYROD TAYLOR and EJ MANUEL all saw action. Cassel started the game and completed seven of eight passes for 45 yards. Taylor followed Cassel and completed five of eight passes for 49 yards. Manuel, who was the starter in the team’s intra-squad scrimmage, led the team with 77 passing yards, including a 51-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DEONTE THOMPSON.
Taylor is slated to get the start in this week’s game as Bills head coach REX RYAN continues to evaluate his options at the position.
Veteran quarterback JOSH MC COWN, who joined the Browns this offseason, made his debut for Cleveland and led the team to a touchdown drive on his only possession in the preseason opener. McCown completed all five of his passes, capping the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver TRAVIS BENJAMIN.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS at ARIZONA CARDINALS (Saturday, NFLN, 10:00 PM ET)
The Chargers kicked off the preseason with a 17-7 win over Dallas but the big news out of San Diego is the contract extension for quarterback PHILIP RIVERS. Rivers is coming off a season in which he passed for 4,286 yards – his sixth career 4,000-yard season – and 31 touchdowns – his fourth career 30-TD season. He has started 144 consecutive regular-season games and has compiled an 88-56 record (.611) as the team’s starting quarterback.
Arizona’s opener featured the return of quarterback CARSON PALMER, who won all six of his starts last year before going down with an injury. Palmer was sharp in his first game back, completing all four of his pass attempts for 77 yards, including a 57-yard strike to running back ANDRE ELLINGTON. Palmer led the Cardinals to a touchdown drive on his only possession of the contest.
“You want to be on the same page with everyone,” says Palmer. “I was very focused. I was excited all day to get out there.”
- LOUIS RAMS at TENNESSEE TITANS (Sunday, FOX, 8:00 PM ET)
New Rams quarterback NICK FOLES got off to a fast start in the team’s preseason opener against Oakland, completing two long passes to set up a field goal on his first possession. Foles connected with tight end LANCE KENDRICKS for a 26-yard gain and then teamed with wide receiver TAVON AUSTIN for 35 yards.
“I was excited to be out there as a Ram,” says Foles, who was acquired by the Rams from Philadelphia in an offseason trade. “It was really my first time in the uniform and it was fun being out there. It was great to have a fast start and move the ball down the field.”
Titans quarterback MARCUS MARIOTA, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, made his debut last week at Atlanta. After a rough start in which he turned the ball over on his first two possessions, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner responded by leading Tennessee down the field on a long touchdown drive (10 plays, 80 yards).
“There were some ups and downs,” says Mariota, “but as an offense, I think it was good that we went through some adversity and fought back. I’m proud of what we have but I think we can always get better. I’m looking forward to next week.”