What I'm going to be looking for in tomorrow's game

Preseason games are always funny games to watch.  Winning or losing doesn't really matter.  You'd like to see our ones do well against their ones, but it doesn't really matter what the score is.  It's almost like the anti-game.  You really care more about how individuals did and maybe how certain groups did than who wins the game.

That being said, there are a couple things I'm going to be looking for during the game tomorrow. Actually, I'll watch the game Monday since I'll have to DVR it since I'll be gone over the weekend.  However, my time warner channel listing still shows the game on at 7PM and no game on at 10:30 on CBS, I'll have to rig something up before I leave and I might not see the game at all...  Assuming I actually get to watch the game, here is what I'm going to be looking for:

Running Game - I know this is kind of general and obvious, but there are several things I want to see.  1) Is Jacob Hester getting good blocks and does LaDainian Tomlinson trust him?  Last year, Mike Tolbert and Hester didn't do a real good job of lead blocking and you could tell that LT didn't trust them, even when Hester started to get a little better at it towards the end of the year LT still didn't follow him like he followed LoNeal.  2) I want to see Marcus McNeill pushing some guys around.  He is probably never going to be like Dielman in this way, but I want to see him moving guys or at least effectively shielding them.  Show me that he is recovered from his neck injury.  3) I want to see Kynan Forney doing his best road grader impersonation.  If he is not doing this, we can expect the right side to be weak until Louis Vasquez comes around.  4) I also want to see how Gartrell Johnson does, but that is more from a curiosity standpoint since I don't see him contributing a whole lot this year.

Inside Linebacker Play - Kevin Burnett, is he the second coming of Donnie Edwards?  I expect to see him do well and make some plays in pass coverage.  I am curious to see if he is on the field on running downs and if so how he plays.  One thing that has changed between this year and last is that the defensive lineman are supposedly going to be more aggressive.  They have been talking about doing more gap penetration as opposed to last year when they were more gap control.  Gap penetration has the potential to make big plays, but it also allows the offensive lineman to get into your LBs quicker.  How does Burnett deal with this if it happens?  Can he shed the blockers and still make plays?  Best case scenario for the Bolts this year is that Stephen Cooper and Burnett never come off the field.  They play passing downs and running downs.  More than likely Burnett and Dobbins will split time at the ILB spot opposite Cooper.

Covering the Tight End - We absolutely sucked at covering the tight end last year.  Partly because Wilhelm wasn't very good at it, and that is one of the reasons he is gone and Burnett is here.  Hart and Weddle also share some of the blame.  Theoretically, between Burnett, a healthy Hart, and additional pressure from Merriman, we will be better against the tight ends.  Seattle has a decent tight end in John Carlson.  He should provide a good test.

After the ones come out sometime in the early second quarter, you'll want to keep you eyes on specific players

On Offense:

WRs - Buster Davis (84) and Kassim Osgood (81).  Can these guys be relied on?  I am hopeful.

OL - Tyronne Green (69) is he even on this team?  4th round pick should make some kind of impact.  Perhaps he is a gamer, we'll see.

TE - Kory Sperry (47) vs. Kris Wilson (88).  I've been hearing good things about both these guys.  Kris is a second year player and Kory is a UDFA Rookie.  I bet Norv will be looking for more of a blocking TE for this 3rd stringer role.

 

On Defense:

DT - Vaughn Martin (92) - I know he will make plays eventually, but at this point I want to see how lost he looks out there.  If he is getting handled consistently, it's probably because he is thinking too much.  The more he has to think, the longer it will be until he can contribute.

LB - Keep an eye on my man Darry Beckwith (46)

SS - Kevin Ellison (25) - Another guy to watch and see if he looks lost or tentative.  Does he play any LB? John even saw him on the DL for a play.  It will be interesting to see if they get creative with Ellison.

FS - C.J. Spillman (41) - this UDFA has been getting some time at FS with Weddle injured.

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