The 2014 NFL season is almost here, as Thursday night brings the final slate of preseason games. Every team will suit up and go to work one more time before the regular season arrives.

It’s true that week three is usually the week to tune into preseason play, but they play four games for a reason – for practice and for evaluation. There are still some things worth checking out in tonight’s 16 preseason contests, so let’s take a quick look at each game by nailing down the top thing fans should be looking for:

Falcons @ Jaguars

Chad Henne is still going to start in week one, but tonight we get one more look at impressive rookie passer Blake Bortles. Another fine performance could potentially change Jacksonville’s mind on who to start.

Lions @ Bills

It’d be nice to see talented rookie tight end Eric Ebron go off before the regular season comes around. He’s not even a lock to play a ton in the preseason finale, but if he does hopefully he shows off his elite athleticism.

Colts @ Bengals

Indy’s wide receiving corps will start settling in. We aren’t guaranteed an appearance by the veteran Reggie Wayne, but a second straight showing would be nice, while Da’Rick Rogers needs a strong end to his preseason to stick on the final roster.

Chiefs @ Packers

Jeff Janis is one of the top players to monitor in this game. He probably won’t have a shot at a real impact in his first season, but he has the size and speed to be a real player down the road. He should get a good amount of exposure tonight.

Rams @ Dolphins

Michael Sam probably takes the cake here. He registered two sacks in his last game and is starting to prove some of his critics wrong. The Rams are pretty deep on the defensive line, though, so if he hasn’t made the team yet he might need one more strong outing to get himself over the hump.

Jets @ Eagles

It’d be nice to see Michael Vick show any signs of life. Geno Smith is the starter, so he shouldn’t play much. Vick could get some run and hopefully he balls out to keep things interesting in New York.

Patriots @ Giants

Tim Wright is the newest Patriot, so it’d only make sense to see him get some work in before the regular season. He’ll operate as the “move” tight end, so it will be worth checking out for his role. Rob Gronkowski’s status remains up in the air, too, so keep a lookout for a possible appearance.

Panthers @ Steelers

More Dri Archer, please. Pittsburgh should be wise and sit their top running backs before the half (if they even play them at all), so hopefully we get a good dosage of the explosive Archer.

Redskins @ Buccaneers

With tight end Tim Wright now in New England, targets are up for grabs at the tight end spot in Tampa Bay. Rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins hasn’t yet overtaken Brandon Myers, but he could make some strides tonight.

Bears @ Browns

Johnny Football time! Brian Hoyer and the starters shouldn’t play more than a quarter or two, which should open the door to extended time for Manziel and the rest of the backups. He’ll have a solid matchup and hopefully will put together his best performance yet.

Broncos @ Cowboys

Wes Welker is out with a concussion, so we should see more of rookie receiver Cody Latimer tonight. The first team won’t be on the field long at all in this one, but he’ll be worth checking out for role and impact.

49ers @ Texans

Frank Gore shouldn’t see much action as he gears up for week one, so that should leave a good amount of touches for rookie running back Carlos Hyde. Hyde probably has a solid role to start his first NFL season, but the team should try to get him involved in the passing game and pass protection one more time to get him as ready as possible.

Ravens @ Saints

Everyone keeps talking about Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice at the running back position in Baltimore, but rookie back Lorenzo Taliaferro is fairly talented and could end up having a bigger role than many think. He should get a good amount of action tonight.

Vikings @ Titans

Zach Mettenberger has quietly had a pretty good preseason, although he isn’t expected to even land the backup quarterback gig – much less push Jake Locker to start. He should close out the preseason with a strong outing and give himself a chance to be in the discussion later in the year if Locker struggles or gets hurt.

Seahawks @ Raiders

Rookie quarterback Derek Carr should get the start with Matt Schaub nursing an elbow injury. Schaub has been terrible, so Carr could push for the starting job with a good performance tonight. That’s easier said than done against the Seahawks, however.

Cardinals @ Chargers

The first team offense shouldn’t see much time on the field tonight for Arizona, so we should get another long look at rookie passer Logan Thomas, He was terrific in his second preseason game and will look to build on that momentum against the Chargers tonight.

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