NFL preseason 2013, Week 2: What to watch in Thursday's games

Cleveland Browns RB Trent Richardson will make his 2013 preseason debut against the Detroit Lions on Thursday. - Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday evening will showcase four preseason matchups, highlighted by Chargers vs. Bears on ESPN, and there are plenty of storylines to watch.

Eight teams will be in action on Thursday night as Week 2 of the NFL preseason continues. The Chargers face the Bears at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN in the evening's sole nationally televised game.

While you may be wondering why you should be paying any attention to these glorified scrimmages, there are plenty of captivating storylines to keep an eye on.

Lions vs. Browns (7:30 p.m. ET)

Brandon Weeden was brilliant last week during the Brown's 27-19 win over the Rams, but head Rob Chudzinski says the starting quarterback battle between Weeden and Jason Campbell is still too close to call. That may be an attempt to keep Weeden focused, but keep an eye on the play of the two quarterbacks. The Browns will also welcome back halfback Trent Richardson, who sat out the preseason opener and battled through much of training camp with an injured shin.

The Lions beat the Jets last week, but rumblings of discontent over the play of Matthew Stafford are emerging in Detroit. Stafford struggled to live up to lofty expectations in 2012, and began 2013 with a 3-for-8 day against the Jets. We'll see if he can improve on that performance and begin to rebuild confidence in the fan base.

Falcons vs. Ravens (7:30 p.m. ET)

The Baltimore Ravens looked strong last week in their dismantling of the Buccaneers, thanks in large part to the stellar play of backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He'll look to cement his spot behind Joe Flacco, while Daryl Smith will try to lock down the Mike linebacker spot. Smith had five tackles last week, and looks to be the favorite to replace Ray Lewis in the middle of the defense. The team will be unveiling two new weapons since last week: tight end Dallas Clark signed with the team earlier in the week, and running back Bernard Pierce returns from injury.

The big story line for Atlanta will be the play of Stephen Jackson, who rushed for only eight yards on five carries last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Falcons are hoping Jackson can return to the dominant form he showcased during his nine years in St. Louis.

Panthers vs. Eagles (7:30 p.m. ET)

There are some very interesting position battles developing in Carolina, and Thursday's contest could go a long way in deciding them. At right guard, Garry Williams seems to have the upper hand, but offensive coordinator Mike Shula's emphasis on the running game leaves the door open for the run-blocking Jeff Byers to steal the spot. On the defensive side, a follow-up to Josh Norman's two-interception game against the Chicago Bears last week could threaten Captain Munnerlyn's spot at the No. 2 cornerback spot.

For the Eagles, all eyes will be on the men under center. Michael Vick and Nick Foles were both impressive last week against the New England Patriots, and head coach Chip Kelly has stated that the competition remains very close.

Chargers vs. Bears (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

With the San Diego Chargers losing wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Keenan Allen to knee injuries in the past week, it will be interesting who Philip Rivers and the backup quarterbacks turn to during their preseason showdown with the Bears. While neither injury looks to be serious, the team will need its reserves to step up over the next few weeks.

The Bears' biggest competition is at the middle linebacker spot, where D.J. Williams and Jonathan Bostic are competing to fill the void left by Brian Urlacher's departure. With Williams bogged down by injuries, Bostic improved his standing last week with a pick-six against Cam Newton and the Panthers.

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