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Saturday NFL Notes

One of the most fascinating players to watch in 2013 will undoubtedly be Josh Freeman, who is in the definition of a contract year. He is still yet to be extended beyond this season, and his performance will dictate whether he becomes much wealthier this offseason, or temporarily unemployed. Clearly, this makes him a risky fantasy option, as he could have a big year fighting for his job, or potentially lose the starting gig. The latter seems to be a possibility now, after the team drafted Mike Glennon in the third round, and coach Greg Schiano was hesistant to ensure that Freeman would be the starter after the first preseason game. He made it clear that Freeman would need to really lose the job, but implied that Glennon taking over at some point is a possibility if things go south. Intriguing storyline to watch this season down in Tampa.

The 49ers got a little deeper in the backfield with the return of Kendall Hunter from his torn Achilles. Hunter had 371 yards last season as the backup to Frank Gore, which will be a vital role for San Francisco as Gore is now 30. Hunter will compete with LaMichael James for the role for now, although the impending return of Marcus Lattimore (knee) could add another layer to the competition.

Andrew Hawkins (ankle), who caught 51 passes and four TDs last season for the Bengals, is likely to be placed on injured reserve with designation for return, Marvin Lewis said, which will keep him sidelined until at least Week 8. Hawkins was productive, but this could mean more opportunities for popular sleeper Mohamed Sanu, sophomore Marvin Jones, and the strong TE duo of Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert. Andy Dalton will still have plenty of non-A.J. Green options to work with.

It looks like Browns RB Trent Richardson (shin) will play in the second preseason game, said Rob Chudzinski. The injury isn?t serious, and won?t affect his status for Week 1.

In New England, two players emerged from the preseason opener as potential factors in the offense. Former Tampa Bay RB LaGarrette Blount tallied 101 yards on 11 carries, and has reportedly jumped ahead of Brandon Bolden on the depth chart into the number two back role. WR Kenbrell Thompkins, an undrafted rookie, continues to impress and see his role increase, and has a chance to actually win the number two WR slot.

Finally, the Giants will sit Hakeem Nicks (groin) for the preseason opener tonight, although he is back practicing on a limited basis. This will mean an opportunity for Rueben Randle, who has impressed so far this offseason and has a chance to be a sleeper playmaker in 2013.