One simple transaction last Saturday made this week's preseason game between the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars even more appealing for BYU fans.
While the Lions already employ former Cougars Kyle Van Noy and Ezekiel Ansah, the Jaguars, in need of fullback help, signed BYU's all-time leading rusher, Harvey Unga.
Given that they play on opposite sides of the ball, there's a chance that Unga could line up on the other side of Van Noy or Ansah during Friday's Detroit-Jacksonville contest.
There is hope that Ansah, who last week was activated off the physically unable to perform list, could see his first action of the preseason against the Jaguars.
“We’d love to see him in game situations, but I think the most important thing is to get him to the regular season," Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said Wednesday. "We have him in some more practice situations this week, so we were able to ramp him up a little bit and we’ll just keep evaluating to see when it’s best to get him out there and get him going.”
This is the dress rehearsal week in the NFL, as there will be extended competition between the teams' starters. Teams must cut their rosters to a maximum of 75 players by 2 p.m. MDT on Tuesday.
Unga also has more competition in making the Jaguars' 53-man roster. On Wednesday, Jacksonville signed another fullback, Eric Kattani, giving the team three fullbacks on its roster.
If you're a night owl, you can catch a replay of the Lions-Jaguars game at 2 a.m. MDT Saturday on NFL Network, or you can wait for another replay on Wednesday at 8 a.m., again on NFL Network.
Here's a game-by-game look at Week 3 of the NFL preseason and which local ties to watch for this weekend (rookies are noted):
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Thursday, 5:30 p.m. MDT, TV: NFL Network
On the Steelers roster:
Hebron Fangupo, DT, BYU
Brett Keisel, DE, BYU and Snow College
Brice McCain, CB, Utah
Vic So’oto, LB, BYU
On the Eagles roster:
Joe Kruger, DE, Utah and Pleasant Grove High
Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State
Storylines of interest: The 12-year veteran Keisel re-signed this week with the Steelers, agreeing to a two-year deal, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "For them to give me the opportunity to come back means a lot to me and I can’t wait to get back to work," Keisel told steelers.com. His re-signing cost another local, Utah State's Lapuaho, his job, as the Steelers released him to make room for the former BYU star. ... So'oto is receiving attention for his play in the preseason, which included three tackles, one sack and a forced fumble last week. “I think everyone in a helmet and cleats out here has a chance to make it,” So’oto told steelers.com. “I don’t think one play or one turnover will sway the coaches’ decisions either way. I think it’s more about practice day in and day out and being able to come out here and be conditioned and make plays and just do your best.”
Friday, 5:30 p.m., no TV
On the Jaguars roster:
Zane Beadles, G, Utah and Hillcrest High
D.J. Tialavea, TE, Utah State and West Jordan High (rookie)
Harvey Unga, RB, BYU and Timpview High
On the Lions roster:
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State (rookie)
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU (rookie)
Storylines of interest: Lawson has had opportunities to make a positive impression during the preseason. During the Lions' first preseason game against the Browns, the fourth-round draft pick made four tackles, and according to MLive.com's Justin Rogers, he played 23 snaps last week against Oakland. “He’s a typical young guy," Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin told reporters Wednesday. "He’s going to make some mistakes, but he has really good football sense. ... It’s probably going to take him a while to catch up to the speed of the schemes and the way things happen in this league. He’s got some upside and really plays bigger than his size. He’s not a big guy, but when you watch him compete with the big guys, he can.”
Friday, 5:30 p.m., no TV
On the Panthers roster:
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah, Snow College and Bingham High
On the Patriots roster:
Jordan Devey, OL, Memphis, Snow College and American Fork High
Sealver Siliga, DT, Utah and Copper Hills High
L.T. Tuipulotu, DT, Utah (rookie)
Eathyn Manumaleuna, DT, BYU and Timpview High (rookie)
Storylines of interest: Devey, who was a practice squad member last year, started last week against the Eagles and played every offensive snap, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. "His offseason program was very productive," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told the Providence Journal. "He really was able to take advantage of that and put himself in a very competitive position.” ... NESN.com reports that Siliga, who hurt his arm two weeks ago, could be close to returning to practice and was working on conditioning Wednesday at team practice with a splint on his left arm.
Friday, 5:30 p.m., no TV
On the Giants roster:
Dallas Reynolds, C, BYU and Timpview High
On the Jets roster:
Tevita Finau, DT, Utah
Trevor Reilly, OLB, Utah (rookie)
Caleb Schlauderaff, G, Utah
Michael Smith, RB, Utah State
Storylines of interest: In his latest 53-man roster prediction, Jordan Raanan of NJ.com has Reynolds making the Giants' active roster for the regular season. ... When asked which rookies have stood out on special teams during preseason, Jets special teams coach Thomas McGaughey told newyorkjets.com, "You saw last week with IK (Ikemefuna Enemkpali) and Trevor (Reilly). I mean those two guys have really done a nice job. But they’re all working hard, all those young guys." Reilly forced a fumble on special teams last week against the Bengals. ... Smith's chances to stick in New York look all but slim, as he has yet to play any preseason minutes after being signed on Aug. 2. He was waived by Tampa Bay on May 13.
Friday, 6 p.m., TV: CBS
On the Raiders roster:
Tony Bergstrom, OL, Utah and Skyline High
Bojay Filimoeatu, LB, Utah State and Granger High (rookie)
Keith McGill, CB, Utah (rookie)
Jake Murphy, TE, Utah and American Fork High (rookie)
Donald Penn, T, Utah State
Karl Williams, FB, Utah, Southern Utah and Layton High (rookie)
Spencer Hadley, ILB, BYU (rookie)
On the Packers roster:
Jarrett Bush, CB, Utah State
Jake Doughty, LB, Utah State and Juan Diego High (rookie)
Storylines of interest: The Raiders will be a team to follow when cuts start happening, as they have five rookies with Utah ties. McGill is the only one who was drafted by Oakland this year, and he's one of a couple Raider cornerbacks, including Neiko Thorpe, who've been slowed by injuries during training camp. "Being able to get a look at those two guys, as well as some of the other guys, over the next couple of weeks, it’ll be big as far as the evaluation process is,” head coach Dennis Allen told raiders.com.
Friday, 8 p.m., TV: NFL Network
On the Bears roster:
Stephen Paea, DT, Snow College and Timpview High
On the Seahawks roster:
Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State
Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
Storylines of interest: Paea is heading into his contract year. So far in the preseason, he has started at nose tackle both games and recorded two tackles, a half sack and one quarterback hurry. ... Turbin rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries last week against the Chargers, including a 47-yard run. "I saw him running physical, he’s got good speed," Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times. "The cool part at the end of the long run he was able to use his off arm and probably got about twelve to fifteen more yards just with his stiff arm."
Saturday, 2:30 p.m., TV: NFL Network
On the Buccaneers roster:
On the Bills roster:
Storylines of interest: Former Ute linebacker Stevenson Sylvester was put on injured reserve by the Bills on Wednesday with a knee injury. According to ESPN, Sylvester was in the running to replace Nigel Bradham in the Week 1 starting lineup, with Bradham having to serve a one-game suspension.
Saturday, 5 p.m., no TV
On the Titans roster:
On the Falcons roster:
Tay Glover-Wright, CB, Utah State (rookie)
Paul Soliai, DT, Utah
Pat McQuistan, OL, Weber State
Storylines of interest: McQuistan joined the Falcons this week, replacing an injured Sam Baker. McQuistan, who's twin brother Paul plays for the Browns, last played in a regular-season game in 2012 with the Cardinals.
Saturday, 5 p.m., no TV
On the Cowboys roster:
On the Dolphins roster:
Sam Brenner, C, Utah
Will Davis, CB, Utah State
John Denney, LS, BYU
Tyler Larsen, OL, Utah State and Jordan High (rookie)
Koa Misi, LB, Utah
Derrick Shelby, DE, Utah
Storylines of interest: Misi, who's spent his NFL career at outside linebacker, is moving to the middle this season as the Dolphins shuffle their starting linebacking unit. He had three tackles in the first preseason game, then lead Miami with six tackles last week vs. Tampa Bay. "The more reps he's in there the better he gets," head coach Joe Philbin told the Sun-Sentinel. ... Davis has passed up fellow second-year cornerback Jamar Taylor as the team's third corner in nickel packages, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Saturday, 5:30 p.m., no TV
On the Ravens roster:
Haloti Ngata, DT, Highland High
A.J. Pataiali’i, DT, Utah State, Snow College and Hunter High (rookie)
Dennis Pitta, TE, BYU
Steve Smith Sr., WR, Utah
On the Redskins roster:
Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU (rookie)
Tevita Stevens, OL, Utah
Storylines of interest: There will be more opportunities to see Pitta, Smith and Ngata against the Redskins with the starters expected to play at least half of the game. “We’re going to play into the second half," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco told baltimoreravens.com. "You want to go out there and you want to do a good job. We’re ready and we’re poised to do that.” ... Hoffman has had minimal chances to make an impression during the preseason; that included last week, when he was targeted twice but did not make a catch. One target was on a pass near the sideline in the end zone.
Saturday, 6 p.m., no TV
On the Rams roster:
Maurice Alexander, S, Utah State (rookie)
On the Browns roster:
Paul Kruger, LB, Utah and Timpanogos High
Paul McQuistan, OL, Weber State
Storylines of interest: Rams head coach Jeff Fisher praised Alexander in highlighting several young secondary players for St. Louis in a recent Fox Sports article. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound strong safety is getting noticed for his tackling abilities and his ability to cover larger receivers. "That's why I play mostly down in the box, to get off the edge a little bit, things like that," Alexander told Fox Sports. "Whatever comes at me, I'm playing it." ... ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi said McQuistan appears to be one of the Browns' top backups on the offensive line at both the tackle and guard positions.
Saturday, 6 p.m., TV: CBS
On the Saints roster:
On the Colts roster:
Stanley Havili, FB, Cottonwood High
Storylines of interest: Havili remains on the physically unable to perform list with a shoulder injury. In his absence, fellow fullback Mario Harvey is getting extensive playing time. However, Ben Gundy of The Colts Authority said Havili has the inside track to make the 53-man roster over Harvey because the Cottonwood High grad is "a much more explosive athlete. He also has the advantage of having played fullback far more than Harvey has."
Saturday, 6 p.m., no TV
On the Vikings roster:
Matt Asiata, RB, Utah, Snow College and Hunter High
On the Chiefs roster:
Alex Smith, QB, Utah
Sean Smith, CB, Utah
Daniel Sorensen, S, BYU (rookie)
Storylines of interest: Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told the Kansas City Star that Alex Smith and the Kansas City starters will play into the third quarter against the Vikings. It will give Smith and the Chiefs' starting offense, which hasn't produced a touchdown in its eight preseason possessions, more in-game work together. “You’d love to go out there and have success every single play," Smith told the Star. "That’s our goal, that’s what we’re striving for. Is that the reality always? No. But as an offense our job is to move the ball and put some points on the board." ... Asiata is expected to get his third straight preseason start, as ESPN's Ben Goessling reported that Adrian Peterson, one of the league's top running backs, is likely to sit out the entire preseason.
Saturday, 7 p.m., no TV
On the Texans roster:
Anthony Denham, TE, Utah (rookie)
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, Timpview High
On the Broncos roster:
Cody Larsen, DL, Southern Utah and Jordan High
Storylines of interest: Su'a-Filo started last week for the Texans against Atlanta, and now he is listed as the starter at right guard on the Texans' official depth chart. ... Denham, the former Ute tight end who sits at fourth string on Houston's depth chart, is looking for any way to make the team. He helped himself last week by blocking a punt that led directly to a touchdown. "They were backed up and I kind of did the math, figuring out how fast I could get in there," Denham told the Houston Chronicle. "I kind of burst off (the snap), shed No. 33 (Devonta Freeman) and got my hand up (while) being sure not to rough the punter. It was a team play all the way. I was trying to be a team player. And I really want to be a good special-teams player."
Sunday, 2 p.m., TV: Fox
On the Chargers roster:
Tenny Palepoi, DT, Utah, Snow College and Skyline High (rookie)
Brad Sorensen, QB, Southern Utah
Eric Weddle, FS, Utah
Kerwynn Williams, RB, Utah State
On the 49ers roster:
David Reed, WR, Utah
Will Tukuafu, FB, East High
Storylines of interest: The 6-4, 293-pound Tukuafu, listed as a fullback on the 49ers' roster, has value as both a blocker on offense and as an emergency defensive lineman. He showed that last week against Baltimore when he played on both sides of the ball; Tukuafu finished with one rush and a reception, as well as two tackles, including a tackle for loss. ... Weddle and his family — after being challenged by several people, including Utah coach Kyle Whittingham — participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge and upped the ante, according to a video on chargers.com. In addition to pouring buckets of ice water on each other, the Weddle family donated $500 to ALS research.
Sunday, 6 p.m., TV: NBC
On the Bengals roster:
R.J. Stanford, DB, Utah
On the Cardinals roster:
Reggie Dunn, WR, Utah
Storylines of interest: The biggest local story among these two squads ended up being a nonstory. After the Cardinals lost defensive end Darnell Dockett for the season with an ACL tear, Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic reported Arizona was flying free agent Brett Keisel in for a physical Tuesday. Hours later, though, reports began to surface a deal wasn't imminent and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter first confirmed why: he agreed to return to the Steelers.