NFL preseason Week 3: One thing to watch in final tune-up games, including Tom Brady seeing action

The final week of the 2022 NFL preseason is here. Each of the league’s 32 teams will be in action Thursday night through this weekend, with varying numbers of starters participating in their teams’ games. We’ve got a handy guide for you in the space below, with start times and TV listings, as well as what you should be looking out for in each and every contest. 

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Friday, Aug. 26

Bills at Panthers

Time: 7 p.m. ET 

TV: NFL+, Check local listings

Buffalo’s offense has been dominant this preseason, so it’s worth tuning in to see if that continues. Now that Baker Mayfield has officially been named Carolina’s starting quarterback, any snaps he takes are also worth watching. Plus, Buffalo’s rookie cornerbacks (Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford) should see some action as they gear up for the regular season. 

Seahawks at Cowboys

Time: 8 p.m. ET 

TV: NFL Network

With Tyron Smith out for the foreseeable future, all eyes turn to the Cowboys’ left tackle situation. Rookie Tyler Smith could get a shot, but he’s been out of practice with an ankle injury this week. Josh Ball, Matt Waletzko, and Aviante Collins are also options. Seattle will be without Rashaad Penny (COVID-19) and Kenneth Walker (hernia), so the running back position is one to watch. 

Chargers at Saints

Time: 8 p.m. ET 

TV: NFL+, Check local listings

The Chargers rarely play any starters in preseason games, but how the backfield rotation shakes out here could be a clue to who will serve as the primary backup to Austin Ekeler when the regular season begins. How Saints rookies Chris Olave and Trevor Penning look, if they play, is always worth watching. 

Patriots at Raiders

Time: 8:15 p.m. ET 

TV: NFL+, Check local listings

Bill Belichick vs. Josh McDaniels! Also, how New England’s offense fares with Matt Patricia calling the plays. 

Saturday, Aug. 27

Jaguars at Falcons

Time: 3 p.m. ET 

TV: NFL+, Check local listings

Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne, in however many snaps they play, are worthy of attention. Falcons third-round pick Desmond Ridder has looked quite good so far during the preseason, and if that continues, he may be able to supplant Marcus Mariota as the starter under center at some point this season. 

Rams at Bengals

Time: 6 p.m. ET 

TV: NFL Network

Undrafted free agent Lance McCutcheon has shown some flashes for the Rams during preseason, and if he can do the same against a strong Bengals defense, he can earn himself a roster spot. L.A. is highly unlikely to give time to any starters, so players like him and the Rams’ late-round defensive back selections are the most noteworthy here. Jessie Bates is back in Bengals camp after signing the franchise tag, but rookie Dax Hill has been getting a lot of preseason work and that could be a precursor to his seeing time during the regular season.

Bears at Browns

Time: 7 p.m. ET 

TV: NFL+, Check local listings

Chicago’s starters are expected to see 25-30 snaps in this contest, so the most important thing to watch is how Justin Fields handles Cleveland’s defense. For the Browns, the quarterbacks are worthy of attention, as we know Deshaun Watson will be out for at least the first 11 games of this season due to his suspension for violating the personal conduct policy after he was accused by two dozen women of sexual misconduct. 

Cardinals at Titans

Time: 7 p.m. ET 

TV: NFL+, Check local listings

Titans first-round pick Treylon Burks has been working with the deep backups in preseason games so far. Does that continue here? Can he get any time with the first-team offense? Can Malik Willis continue to make plays outside the structure of the offense, and can he do more within the confines of the pocket? 

Eagles at Dolphins

Time: 7 p.m. ET

TV: NFL+, Check local listings

Will this game actually go on as scheduled, or will the stomach bug going around Miami’s locker room have an effect? In all seriousness, a number of players will be fighting for final roster spots in this game. The Dolphins are looking to see who can step up at the depleted cornerback position, while also trying to see which wide receivers will make the cut. Speaking of wideouts, Jalen Reagor might have one last chance to convince the Eagles to keep him around this season. 

Commanders at Ravens

Time: 7 p.m. ET

TV: NFL+, Check local listings

The Commanders starters will see “very limited” action in this contest, but the running back position is one to keep an eye on. Antonio Gibson has seemingly been surpassed by rookie Brian Robinson for early-down work, with the team talking up Gibson’s ability to contribute on special teams and as a receiver in space. Baltimore, meanwhile, is looking to extend its NFL record 22-game preseason winning streak. 

Colts at Buccaneers

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET 

TV: NFL+, Check local listings

Indy’s starters will play up to half the game, according to head coach Frank Reich. Their Gus Bradley-led defense going up against Tom Brady should be an interesting matchup. Todd Bowles, meanwhile, says “anyone’s that healthy will play,” which means expect to see a healthy Tom Brady start the game. Also, how the interior of Tampa’s offensive line, amidst a bunch of injuries, fares against the Indianapolis defensive front is worthy of attention. 

Vikings at Broncos

Time: 9 p.m. ET 

TV: NFL Network

The Broncos are expected to sit most of their starters for this contest. Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam has been getting a lot of work during the preseason, with the coaching staff saying he needs more reps. That could continue here. Kellen Mond and Sean Mannion are seemingly battling it out for Minnesota’s backup quarterback job, so that is also something to look out for.  

Sunday, Aug. 28

Giants at Jets

Time: 1 p.m. ET 

TV: NFL Network

A lot of rookies, including first-round picks Evan Neal, Ahmad Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Jermaine Johnson. Who takes Kayvon Thibodeaux’s slot along the Giants defensive line. If Daniel Jones can continue his strong preseason. And more. 

Lions at Steelers

Time: 4:25 p.m. ET 

TV: CBS

No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson and Steelers rookies Kenny Pickett and George Pickens are the most worthy of attention. 

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