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NFL Starters Ready For More Time in Week 3

   by ASA - 08/25/2009

The NFL preseason can often be broken down into distinct week-to-week trends. The opening week historically is very low-scoring with the starters seeing little action. The second week produces a dramatic increase in scoring as the starters get more reps. The third week is typically the biggest week for the first-stringers as they receive their most playing time of the preseason. The final week sees starters’ playing time reduced considerably as the third- and fourth-stringers battle for the final roster spots.

The first two weekends have held true to these trends. The average total of Week 1 games was just 34.3 points per game, and increased to 36 points per game in Week 2. Oddly enough, the scores traditionally haven’t continued to increase in Week 3 despite more playing time for the starting offenses. The average third-week totals have actually gradually gone down as of late decreasing from 39.4 points per game in 2003, to 33.1 points in 2006, and back up slightly to 34 points in 2008.

This tradition should continue this year as starters around the league see their most playing time of the preseason in game three, with a few exceptions.

· Carson Palmer again missed practice on Sunday, still recovering from a high ankle sprain that he suffered in a 17-7 loss to the Saints in week one of the pre-season. It is looking more and more likely that he will miss Thursday’s game against St. Louis.

· The Eagles have a whole flock of injuries that they are dealing with. Trent Cole, Stacy and Shawn Andrews, Brian Westbrook, Sheldon Brown, Omar Gaither and Jason Peters are all battling injuries and could miss Thursday nights match-up with the Jaguars. Michael Vick will overshadow any injury news surrounding the Eagles as he will be making his first appearance of the season.

· The Green Bay Packers have been one of the most impressive teams this pre-season, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy has the history of going against the norm and not playing his starters the usual three quarters. Expect the Pack’s first stringers less time than most teams against the Cardinals this weekend.

· Brett Favre had a rather uneventful debut for the Vikings. He was 1-4 for 4 yards in very limited action. He will likely get more playing time for Minnesota on Monday. Tavaris Jackson played very well in relief of Favre, throwing for 202 yards on 12/15 pass attempts and 2 touchdowns.

· Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play against the Redskins and remains questionable for the upcoming game against the Bills. Charlie Batch started against the Redskins and Dennis Dixon and Mike Reilly also played. All three combined to throw for just 148 yards on 15/35 pass attempts.

· The Panthers defense took another hit last weekend as starting MLB Jon Beason went down with a knee injury. Carolina was already without regular starters Thomas Davis and Ma’ake Kemoeatu.

Other news and notes

Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn aren’t making life for Eric Mangini any easier these days. Mangini still hasn’t named a starting QB and says he’s “not any closer to a decision.” Anderson is 8/15 for 130 and 2 interceptions this pre-season and Quinn is 10/16 for 97 yards and 1 interception. Both have yet to throw for a touchdown. On a positive offensive note, the Browns actually scored a TD last weekend! It was their FIRST offensive TD in seven games dating back to last year’s regular season.

The Detroit Lions still haven’t named their starting QB, but Matthew Stafford did little to impress in his last outing. He completed just 5 of 13 passes for 34 yards and an interception. It doesn’t help Staffords cause that receivers Calvin Johnson, Dennis Northcutt, Bryant Johnson, and TE Brandon Pettigrew are all out with injuries.

Keep an eye on the Sunday night, nationally televised game between Chicago and Denver. Jay Cutler looks to get the most playing time of his pre-season and he will come in with a chip on his shoulder. He is obviously very upset by the way he was treated by the new regime in Denver. He will be out to prove a point which can be a positive or a negative. Trying too hard to prove someone wrong can sometimes backfire. It will be interesting to see how that game plays out.

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