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Lions vs. Falcons preview: 8 players to watch in the preseason opener

Here are eight players to keep an eye on during the Detroit Lions’ preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Friday night.

NFL: AUG 10 Detroit Lions Training Camp Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sweet football! Sweet, sweet fake football. We’re here, Detroit Lions fans. The preseason begins Friday night when the Lions take on the Atlanta Falcons. We’re that much closer to the regular season starting. Until then, there are a lot of things to keep a close eye on in the exhibition opener.

According to head coach Dan Campbell, we should expect to see the starters for about the entire first quarter. After that there’s going to be plenty of young names to watch. Here are the top eight guys that we’ll be looking at:

Jared Goff

We’ve heard a lot about Jared Goff’s confidence this offseason, and we’ve got to see some very impressive throws and moments during training camp, but now it’s time to see what he can do during a game.

Who knows how much of the Lions offense the team plans on showing us in this game, but just to see some basic stuff for Goff tonight is good enough. We’d like to see how he reacts to pressure and how he plays with some of his new weapons out there. Most of all, does he throw deep? We’re going to need to see a deep shot in this game to sleep well.

DJ Chark

That deep shot could definitely go to this guy. Chark has been a highlight machine during camp. Let’s see some highlights in a game situation. Being that this is a nationally-televised game on NFL Network, Chark might be one of the big names coming out of this game. My guess is that he’s about to rise up some fantasy draft boards after he makes a big play or two in this game. I say again, we need that deep shot. Throw it to Chark!

D’Andre Swift

Swift showed up to camp in great shape and has played quite well since the pads have gone on. Still, there hasn’t been much talk about Swift. He’s been quiet and everyone has seemingly been quiet about him. Can Swift go out and show us something new that he’s added to his game tonight? With the new weapons added, will the Lions still utilize him a lot in the pass game? maybe we can fins out the answer to both of those questions tonight.

Jamaal Williams

Williams has been the star of the show for this team all offseason long. He’s been a great ambassador for the fans, we’ve seen plenty of fun clips from him, he was awesome on “Hard Knocks” and was awesome again on “Good Morning Football” on Wednesday.

Williams has become a leader on this team. Not only that, but much like Swift, Williams also showed up to camp in a very good shape. We know that Swift is likely to be the top dog in the running back room, but could Williams make this a two-headed monster?

Aidan Hutchinson

The second overall pick has worked his ass off in camp, and he’s a pretty good dancer and singer, but can he ball? This will be the first big test for the rookie. This will be the first time he’s in uniform in an NFL game on an NFL field in front of NFL fans. How will he react with the whole world watching and the spotlight placed firmly on him? Here’s hoping we get to see some big moments from him right out of the gate.

Jeff Okudah

What a comeback for Okudah this has been. It’s not easy to recover from a torn Achilles. Just ask Achilles. He died from it. Okudah has worked tirelessly to get back to this moment. The videos we’ve seen for months show us that.

The big questions on him will be how much will he play Friday night and how will he look while he’s doing it? It’s been a long time since Okudah has taken the field, and the coaching staff has made it clear he’ll have to earn a starting job against Will Harris. Friday will be a huge opportunity to show he’s still got that talent that made him a near-consensus top-five talent in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Jarrad Davis

A familiar face will be back on the field for the Lions tonight. Davis was, of course, a first-round pick for the Lions and was expected to be a star player for the team. That never happened. After a year away, he’s got another chance to make some things happen in Detroit. We should get plenty of Davis once the reserves come in. Davis has mostly been voted out in our bubble watches this year, can he do something to keep himself on the island?

Malcolm Rodriguez

Mr. Steal Your Girl with His Swivel Hips has been a fan favorite and a camp darling for this team for a quite a while now. When the Lions drafted him, he was a guy who seemed like he was destined to be a special teams player due to his size. But some Lions fans were convinced out of the gate that he could be much more than that.

The linebacker room seems wide open at this time. I couldn’t tell you stands out the most and who’s going to start for this team. What I can tell you is that Rodriguez loves to tackle and he’s shown that several times during camp. How much will we see that tonight and will he dance again? Asking for my wife.

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