The second full week of preseason kicked off Thursday night, and unlike last week’s rollout, there was more playing time for front-line starters. Additionally, high-profile rookies Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins were both in action again, making it a particularly intriguing night of exhibition play. With 10 teams in action, let’s dive right into some of the notable developments of the evening!
Around the AFC
Andy Dalton made the start under center for the Bengals against the Redskins on Thursday, completing five of nine attempts for 36 yards but also throwing a pick-six off a tipped pass. The Red Rifle is likely to see significantly more time and make up for Thursday’s gaffe in next week’s preseason game versus the Giants…There may be a serious battle brewing for the No. 2 job behind Dalton between Jeff Driskel and rookie Ryan Finley. Driskel earned his stripes last season by stepping in for Dalton over the final nine games and managing eight total touchdowns (six passing, two rushing), but Finley has now put together two strong preseason games, including a 20-for-26, 150-yard, two-touchdown effort Thursday…It was a quiet night overall for projected Cincy starters, with WR Tyler Boyd (one reception, eight yards), RB Joe Mixon (one rush, three yards) and RB Giovani Bernard (one rush, three yards) all seeing limited action.
RB Thomas Rawls has never come close to resembling the back that compiled 830 rushing yards on 5.6 yards per carry over 13 games as a rookie in 2015, but his chances of making the Jaguars’ roster may have gone up Thursday. Fellow veteran Alfred Blue exited Thursday’s loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, while Rawls generated 38 total yards on 10 touches overall. While his own performance was nothing to write home about, Rawls would have a much clearer path to a roster spot if Blue were to miss significant time…Neither QB Nick Foles nor RB Leonard Fournette made their preseason debuts Thursday, but both could certainly be in the lineup against the Dolphins next Thursday.
The Jets continued to give second-year quarterback Sam Darnold preseason work while being cautious with his well-being. Darnold saw first-quarter action again, completing five of seven attempts for 46 yards and taking one sack before bowing out of the game. Trevor Siemian, Luke Falk and Davis Webb split reps fairly evenly the rest of the way…New York has a good problem in the form of a very deep backfield, and that was on prominent display Thursday. Offseason arrival Ty Montgomery (7-36-1), Bilal Powell (5-20) and Elijah McGuire (5-14 on the ground, 1-10 through the air) all put together serviceable performances, while Trenton Cannon also logged eight touches (six rushing, two receiving). Top back Le’Veon Bell has yet to take the field this preseason…Darnold’s projected starting receiver duo of Robby Anderson (3-32) and Quincy Enunwa (2-14) both got some valuable time in on the first-team offense.
It was a busy night for QB Lamar Jackson, as he mustered 72 total yards (58 receiving, 14 rushing) but also saw a spectacular 18-yard touchdown run wiped out by an illegal block call on WR Willie Snead. Jackson has demonstrated some solid progress as a passer through the first two exhibitions, and his ongoing development figures to be integral to the Ravens maximizing their upside his season…Rookie RB Justice Hill led the way for the Baltimore backfield with 10 rushes for 49 yards and a touchdown. Mark Ingram (4-18) and Gus Edwards (2-13) both preceded Hill, but perhaps most important for the 2019 fourth-round pick’s chances of a roster spot is that Kenneth Dixon got his knee banged up during Thursday’s contest.
The battle to be QB Derek Carr‘s backup heated up Thursday, with both Mike Glennon and Nathan Peterman playing well. Glennon completed 11 of 14 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns, while Peterman was a perfect 8-for-8 for 41 yards and added 13 yards on the ground…Rookie RB Josh Jacobs logged four carries for 21 yards, while WRs Tyrell Williams (1-27) and Marcell Ateman (1-14) both showed up on the stat sheet as well. WR Antonio Brown naturally did not suit up, as he’s yet to return to practice. However, Brown notably ran routes and caught passes from Carr prior to the game and looked fluid while doing so, leading coach Jon Gruden to express hope that the crown jewel of the Raiders’ offseason will practice at some point before the team breaks camp.
Around the NFC
QB Kyler Murray learned how quickly one can go from feast to famine in the NFL. The toast of the league, at least on a preseason level, just a week ago, Murray was flummoxed by an aggressive Raiders defense and completed just three of eight passes for 12 yards while adding four yards on his sole rush and also taking a safety. The first overall pick is naturally going to take his fair share of lumps this season, and Thursday was the first such occurrence…RB David Johnson saw action for the second straight preseason game as new head coach Kliff Kingsbury continues to give his projected starters a healthy dose of reps in his fast-paced system. Johnson rushed four times for six yards and lost three yards on his only reception…There was some notable names on the stat sheet in terms of Arizona’s receivers as well. Rookie Andy Isabella made his debut and notched a 59-yard touchdown on his one reception, while Trent Sherfield followed up his solid performance in the exhibition opener by logging his own 40-yard score on his one catch. Larry Fitzgerald also saw some snaps but couldn’t come up with either of his two targets.
It’s still up in the air whether QB Carson Wentz will take the field this preseason, but he was on standby for emergency duty Thursday versus the Jaguars. Cody Kessler exited the game with a head injury early, leaving rookie Clayton Thorson as the only other healthy signal-caller besides Wentz. The rookie ended up finishing the contest and getting some valuable playing time in the process, completing 16 of 26 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown while also throwing an interception. With Nate Sudfeld (wrist) out into the regular season and Kessler’s health now in question, Thorson may see some extended action the rest of preseason in preparation for a possible practice-squad spot in 2019.
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QB Matt Ryan saw plenty of action during the first half of Thursday’s loss to the Jets, completing 10 of 14 passes for 118 yards. There was no Julio Jones in the receiving corps, but Calvin Ridley (2-28) and Austin Hooper (3-20) both had successful connections with Ryan, while Mohamed Sanu failed to come up with his only target…The running back battle was in the spotlight Thursday, with rookie Qadree Ollison leading the way with a nine-carry, 44-yard tally. While Ollison clearly outperformed both Ito Smith (5-13-1) and Brian Hill (4-12) in terms of his yardage on the ground, Smith added an impressive three receptions for 45 yards.
The Packers held out QB Aaron Rodgers (back tightness) and RB Aaron Jones again Thursday, leading to a lackluster offensive showing. Davante Adams, Jimmy Graham and Geronimo Allison did all take the field, but Allison’s 2-29 line paced that group. Jake Kumerow, hoping to latch onto a spot on the latter portion of the receiver depth chart, was solid with three receptions for 52 yards. Meanwhile, undrafted Allen Lazard flashed for the second straight week, leading the way with 63 receiving yards on three catches after nabbing a 27-yard touchdown in last week’s exhibition opener.
Despite a second straight preseason loss, QB Dwayne Haskins gave coach Jay Gruden and Redskins fans plenty to smile about. The rookie completed seven of 14 attempts for 114 yards and a touchdown, which came on a perfect 55-yard throw to WR Robert Davis. With Colt McCoy still unable to practice due to last season’s leg injury, Haskins could be on his way to beating out veteran Case Keenum, who drew the start Thursday, and serve as the Week 1 starter…Adrian Peterson‘s late-career resurgence — one that nevertheless still leaves him well short of the elite form he boasted in his earlier years — led to a very rare sight Thursday, namely, AP suiting up and getting a decent amount of carries in a preseason game, given his status of co-lead back, at minimum. The multi-time Pro Bowler was in good form while gaining 31 yards on four rushes…Another seemingly ageless veteran, TE Vernon Davis, also made his mark by recording two catches for 43 yards, including a nifty 26-yard grab.