Darrius Heyward-Bey gets the starting job
Darrius Heyward-Bey isn’t going to start during the regular season. In fact, he’s only competing for the final cut at this point. But to get the start in the first preseason game means a lot of what the coaches think of this guy.
Heyward-Bey is one of many guys competing to stay on the 53-man roster. Him, Justin Hunter, Cobi Hamilton, Demarcus Ayers, Sammie Coates, and Canaan Severin are all right on the brink of elimination. For Heyward-Bey to get this initial start means that he’s likely the front runner to be amongst the final group of receivers to stay.
Justin Hunter has impressed all offseason and got the nod as the backup to Heyward-Bey. With Martavis Bryant not allowed to play, Hunter and Heyward-Bey are looking to prove themselves on the outside in Week 1.
Eli Rogers will start at slot, which comes as no surprise. What is surprising, though, is that JuJu Smith-Schuster is listed as a third string in the first depth chart. Not that this will last, but for him to play limited snaps in his first game isn’t going to help his slot receiver competition against Rogers.
This receiver battle has been the biggest position fight of the team’s offseason. With three preseason games left after Friday, there’s no telling who’s going to make the cut. For right now, though, early indications give Heyward-Bey and Hunter the upper hand heading to New York.