Week 2's slate of the NFL preseason games should feature a little more excitement than in Week 1. Teams are adjusting lineups based off two weeks of input, and the players that trot out onto NFL fields this weekend should more closely resemble opening day lineups.
Storylines abound for Friday's four matchups, including quarterback battles, hopeful redemption for embarrassing Week 1 performances and one very important left tackle tryout.
It's safe to say, both teams will be hoping to see more out of their passing games in this matchup. Last week, Christian Ponder threw just two passes against the Houston Texans, but his second pass has caused a stir among fans. Battle Red Blog broke down the play beautifully, and determined that the quarterback was at fault. Small sample sizes are exactly that, however, and with more reps against the Bills Ponder could redeem himself. The Bills, meanwhile, may be ready to bring Kevin Kolb back from injury and turn up the heat on the quarterback battle against rookie E.J. Manuel.
The 49ers and the Chiefs have less concerns at signal caller. Colin Kaepernick is firmly entrenched as the Niners' starter after last year's dethroning of Alex Smith, who happens to be the Chiefs' starter heading into the 2013 season. The reunion should dominate pre-game talk, though don't expect a lot of fireworks considering the nature of preseason games. More interesting will be how the Niners' run defense fares against the Chiefs' rushing attack. San Francisco struggled somewhat to slow down the Denver Broncos' on the ground last week. Meanwhile, the Chiefs may not have Jamaal Charles, and will hope that the push of a revamped offensive line can propel Knile Davis and Shaun Draughn to big yardage.
Buccaneers vs. Patriots (8 p.m. ET, FOX)
The Buccaneers are coming off an ugly 44-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and won't get any reprieve in Week 2 of the preseason against the Patriots in Foxborough. The Bucs' special teams were a mess, giving up a kickoff return and a blocked punt for touchdown, and muffing a punt in the return game. The defense will also look to improve, particularly the secondary. Darrelle Revis won't return until the team's third preseason game at the earliest, giving backup defensive backs another chance to prove their mettle against an elite quarterback. Rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks will look to shine once again.
The poor Raiders. Oakland doesn't have much going for them these days, and the team's outlook for the 2013 season took another downward turn Wednesday when starting left tackle Jared Veldheer landed on injured reserve. Alex Barron has spent the last two years out of football, but is now set to become Raiders' new blindside protector. Friday's game will be a very important audition for the veteran. If he struggles, the Raiders may need to turn once again to the free agent market, or try to reshuffle the pieces they already have. The Saints defense will no doubt be trying to prove that they can effectively rush the passer, even after Victor Butler's season-ending ACL tear. Junior Galette, Will Smith and Martez Wilson should be fired up.