Published On: Sat, Aug 20th, 2016

5 players to watch in Saturday's preseason games

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Streeter Lecka / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The second week of preseason action ends with the battle of the quarterback competitions, as the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos face off in a marquee matchup. Both teams are searching for answers under center, and neither got any during the first week.

While the 49ers and Broncos’ quarterbacks will be the main story Saturday, here are five other players to watch:

Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers

Funchess put together a solid rookie season, but could be primed to explode in 2016. The young wideout has been Cam Newton’s favorite target throughout camp, regularly drawing praise from the Panthers’ coaching staff and beat writers in attendance. His blend of size and speed means the Panthers will look to use him often in the red zone, as evidenced by his lone catch during Carolina’s preseason opener.

Kasim Edebali, DE, Saints

Edebali flashed his potential last season, racking up five sacks in limited opportunities. In 2016, the third-year defensive end will be moved into the starting lineup, with New Orleans hoping he can jump-start the struggling pass-rush. With Hau’oli Kikaha lost for the year, Edebali will be under even more pressure to perform, but the 27-year-old showed he’s ready to step up in the Saints’ preseason opener, producing two sacks.

Braxton Miller, WR, Texans

Miller is still learning the wide receiver position after transitioning from quarterback in his last year of college, but the third-round pick’s electrifying skill set has been turning heads at Texans camp. Miller caught four balls for 34 yards in Houston’s first preseason game, teasing the type of potential he could have in his rookie year. With top-notch athleticism and ability after the catch, the Texans will try to get the ball in his hands any way they can. He could be the breakout star of the preseason.

Ray-Ray Armstrong, LB, 49ers

NaVorro Bowman is locked in at the center of the 49ers’ defense, but who his running mate will be at inside linebacker remains up in the air. Michael Wilhoite, Gerald Hodges, and Ray-Ray Armstrong are all battling for the role, but it was Armstrong who stood out in the first week of preseason. The former undrafted free agent showed he can play disciplined football, making three solo tackles in 17 snaps. In the past, Armstrong’s impressive athletic ability has caused him to play somewhat wildly, but if he continues to show he’s become a more refined player, he could find himself in the starting lineup come Week 1.

Erik Swoope, TE, Colts

For all his flaws, Coby Fleener’s departure still left a sizable hole in the Colts’ offense. Dwayne Allen is set to be the No. 1 option, and Jack Doyle is an effective veteran, but Indianapolis needs to find another playmaker at the position. Erik Swoope, a former college basketball player, had never played football when he joined the Colts in 2014 as an undrafted free agent. But after two years learning the position, it’s time for the athletically gifted tight end to carve out a role in the offense.

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