As a reminder, I will be blogging in pregame and during the first half tonight, after which I will be writing on some tight deadlines.
Before that, though, I wanted to detail some of the key matchups tonight:
Logan Payne vs. Jordan Kent: This may be a bit of a misnomer, and it may just be Payne fighting for a job. And some think it is Payne vs. Ben Obomanu. But I think they love the fact that Obo can play every position and knows the playbook better than anybody. Kent may have secured himself a job with his earlier play, which means Payne may have to convince them he can do something in a game situation to make then want to keep him. This may already be a foregone conclusion because Tim Ruskell has to have an idea about whether he is going to place Deion Branch on the PUP list. If he is, Payne is likely to stick. If Branch is active, Payne is most likely a goner. But, he still has the chance to convince them otherwise.
Baraka Atkins vs. Jason Babin: I guess the question here is: Does Tim Ruskell value one of his own draft picks over a guy who is more expensive and was acquired via trade. In truth, when training camp started I would not have thought Babin was going to be around. But he has played very well as the preseason has worn on, while Atkins has just been a body, nothing special. Atkins, however, is Ruskell’s fourth-round draft pick last year. Is that a high enough pick to make him think twice about cutting Atkins? We should see tomorrow afternoon.
Brandon Coutu vs. Olindo Mare: This is probably a Holmgren-Ruskell tug-o-war. Mare has been the better all-around kicker when you take kickoffs into account. But Ruskell used a draft pick on Coutu, and probably feels he is the long-term answer at the position. You also have to wonder how the loss of Tyler Schmitt plays into this. Not learning about Schmitt’s back prior to it giving out is an oversight, to be sure, and you have to think Ruskell would not want to waste sixth and seventh round draft picks on a kicking combination that is not on the roster.
Justin Forsett: Of course, losing the above sixth and seventh rounders could be massaged a little by being able to keep Forsett, another seventh rounder who has been more than a mild surprise. I think he has probably made the team based purely on his return skills — who is going to do the job if Forsett doesn’t? We saw what could happen to the tall, lean Jordan Kent on a kickoff return against the Chargers last week — but he certainly is going to be given a chance to show what he can do as a running back tonight.
C.J. Wallace vs. Jamar Adams: I don’t think this is really a contest. If they keep eight DBs, Wallace gets the job and Adams is headed to practice squad. If they keep 9, I think both win jobs.