The third week of preseason usually brings at least a slight uptick in interest, considering many teams have traditionally let their starters play longer than in the first two exhibitions. That held true to an extent Thursday, but with starters on the field for longer stretches, there were actually some notable injuries as well. We'll take a closer look at the latest on those developments, as well what teams look most ready for the regular season.
Around the AFC
QB Andy Dalton got a solid, presumed final tune-up to the regular season with a 7-for-10, 104-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Giants. He impressively accomplished his solid numbers without the benefit of RB Joe Mixon in the backfield to help keep Big Blue's defense honest, although he did have access to RB Giovani Bernard and WR Tyler Boyd. Bernard carried just three times for four yards and made one catch for six yards, while Boyd snared one of two targets for 18 yards. Mixon, Bernard and Boyd, along with TE Tyler Eifert, who logged just seven snaps, will all be especially important in the early going of the regular season while WR A.J. Green misses the opener at minimum with his ankle injury.
The Great Summer 2019 Dolphins Quarterback Battle may have seen its culmination Thursday, although coach Brian Flores emphasized after the game that no final decision had been made. That's because even though Ryan Fitzpatrick overcame a slow start to complete 12 of 18 passes for 126 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions, Josh Rosen wasn't bad, either. Rosen led a 99-yard touchdown drive that likely preserved his candidacy for the top job for at least a few more days. Last year's first-round pick of the Cardinals was 5-for-7 for 59 yards, even though Fitzpatrick notably got the start and played two and a half quarters. However, even if the veteran is ultimately declared the victor, it's likely a safe bet that it won't be too long into the regular season before we see Rosen. The veteran has proven that "FitzMagic" has a relatively brief shelf life on multiple occasions, so when the carriage inevitably turns into a pumpkin, we'll see Rosen under center for Miami. Season-long fantasy players will likely do well to handcuff both players right from the start.
QB Nick Foles took the field for the first (and likely only) time this preseason Thursday and was relatively effective, completing six of 10 attempts for 48 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Big things are expected from Foles as the marquee free-agent signing of the offseason...RB Leonard Fournette also saw the field for the first time since a lackluster ending to his sophomore campaign in 2018. After a slow start, Fournette displayed some of his signature power running on both a 12-yard run and a 15-yard reception. Fournette finished with a 7-27 line on the ground and a 2-19 tally through the air on three targets...Foles' favorite target by far was Dede Westbrook, who was the intended receiver on seven of the 10 attempts that Foles put up. Westbrook appears to be on course for a breakout season, especially if Marqise Lee takes some time to work back from last season's knee injury as the campaign gets underway...Another receiver who has a chance to make an impact if he can secure a roster spot is the well-traveled Terrelle Pryor, whose career has also been defined by plenty of injuries. That trend reared its ugly head again Thursday, when he was forced from the contest after succumbing to a hamstring strain subsequent to generating a 3-26 line on four targets.
QB Tom Brady, RB Sony Michel and WR Phillip Dorsett all appear ready to go for the regular season. The trio saw time in the first half of Thursday's win over the Panthers and got solid work in. Brady finished 8-for-12 on the passing front, accumulating 75 yards in the process. Michel rushed 10 times for 36 yards, while Dorsett impressively hauled in all seven targets for 47 yards. Meanwhile, WR Julian Edelman suited up but didn't play, but reports were that he got plenty of work in pregame. He's expected to be a full go for the regular-season opener versus the Steelers.
The Raiders were reportedly planning on sitting plenty of starters Thursday, so the 80-yard field they were forced to play on at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg ostensibly didn't affect their personnel decisions much. QB Derek Carr, RBs Josh Jacobs, Doug Martin, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, and WRs Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams (undisclosed) were among notable names that sat for Oakland...With Carr out, coach Jon Gruden gave backup signal-caller Nathan Peterman an extended look. The third-year pro entered after Mike Glennon logged first-quarter time and completed 23 of 37 attempts for 210 yards and two touchdowns while leading a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives, including the game winner. Peterman has seemingly shown nice progress this summer after a pair of very rough campaigns to open his career, but it remains to be seen if it's enough to overtake Glennon for the No. 2 quarterback job.
After affording him a solid amount of work over the first pair of preseason contests, coach John Harbaugh gave Lamar Jackson the night off Thursday. That opened the door for rookie Trace McSorley to see extended action, and the Penn State product responded with a solid 19-for-28, 203-yard, two-touchdown showing that was devoid of turnovers and also included a rushing score. McSorley could have had an even bigger night had the game not been called with 11:43 remaining in the contest due to lightning...Several important names did take the field for Baltimore, with rookie WRs Marquise Brown (3-17) and Myles Boykin (1-44) showing up on the stat sheet. Veteran Michael Floyd, trying to secure a spot in the latter portion of the depth chart, managed a team-leading three receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Around the NFC
The Eagles did not treat Thursday's game against the Ravens as a dress rehearsal contest. Carson Wentz, Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders sat for Philadelphia, while Alshon Jeffery logged only eight snaps. TE Zach Ertz (1-3) and WRs Nelson Agholor (1-3) and DeSean Jackson (zero catches, one target) did see early action, but as their final lines imply, didn't make much of an impact. However, that was far from the case with second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who led the way with eight catches, 104 yards and a touchdown. The rookie's receptions and receiving yards paced both squads on the night and provided a glimpse of the talent that enticed the Eagles to invest heavy draft capital on the Stanford product...QB Josh McCown saw action after being coaxed out of retirement last weekend, and he looked nothing like a guy who'd been sitting on the couch and playing golf. McCown was razor sharp while going 17-for-24 for 192 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, including a 2o-yard scoring toss to Arcega-Whiteside...RB Corey Clement saw his first action since suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 14 of last season. The Wisconsin product rushed seven times for 25 yards but wasn't targeted in the passing game.
QB Matt Ryan continued his busy preseason Thursday night, completing nine of 14 passes for 74 yards against the Redskins while also rushing twice for nine yards. Ryan opened the game with RB Devonta Freeman (two rushes, three yards and one catch for six yards), WRs Mohamed Sanu (3-23) and Calvin Ridley (1-9), and TE Austin Hooper (1-2) at his disposal...One prominent name missing from that list was naturally Julio Jones, who'll apparently sit out the entirety of preseason while ensuring his recovering foot isn't put at risk. Jones has been running full-speed routes in practice, however, so there aren't any concerns about his health or availability heading into the regular season.
The Giants know what they have in Eli Manning after 16 seasons, so Week 3 of preseason notwithstanding, he still saw modest action. Manning completed four of eight passes for 41 yards before giving way to Daniel Jones. The rookie continued his strong preseason by completing nine of 11 passes for 141 yards. He also fumbled once, but it was recovered by the offense...RB Saquon Barkley did not take the field, but TE Evan Engram was present and accounted for. Engram brought in his only target for nine yards...RB Wayne Gallman did draw the start in Barkley's stead and responded with 31 yards on eight carries, along with one catch (two targets) for 10 yards. He notably outperformed fellow reserve backs Paul Perkins (3-2) and Rod Smith (5-8) on the ground, although Perkins did contribute 27 yards on three receptions.
The Packers were not one of those teams to treat Thursday as a dress rehearsal, as there were some unique, extenuating circumstances at play. As mentioned previously, Green Bay and the Raiders were forced to play on an 80-yard field at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, the site of Thursday's game. The holes left in each end zone from where the CFL's Blue Bombers – the customary tenants of the stadium – usually have their goalposts prevented the teams from utilizing the entire field due to safety concerns. Consequently, they played on an 80-yard terrain, with Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Jimmy Graham among those sitting for Green Bay.
The Panthers dropped a 10-3 decision to the Patriots on Thursday night with several front-line players on both squads seeing plenty of time. However, that ended up costing one Cam Newton his health, and the injury he sustained had nothing to do with his surgically repaired shoulder. Newton was 4-for-6 for 30 yards before taking a sack on his third series that left him with a gimpy left foot and ankle. Newton was seen sporting a walking boot after the game and will have further exams Friday, which are naturally already the subject of great anticipation. Kyle Allen is the next man up behind Newton, but the Panthers will obviously hope that the two-plus weeks between now and the opener negate the need for Allen to see any regular-season action...Other notable names to take the field for Carolina on Thursday included RB Christian McCaffrey (three rushes, 16 yards/ one catch, 10 yards), WRs Curtis Samuel (2-16) and D.J. Moore (1-3), and TE Greg Olsen (1-4).
Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins were the only two quarterbacks to take snaps for the Redskins on Thursday, as they each made another case for their stake to the starting job. It was a close call versus the Falcons, with Keenum starting and completing nine of 14 attempts for 101 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Haskins countered with 7-for-13 passing, which equated to 74 yards. However, Haskins did a better job taking care of the ball, as Keenum short-circuited one drive with a lost fumble...Another big story of the night was the long-awaited debut of RB Derrius Guice, who rushed 11 times for 44 yards and an additional reception for four yards. Guice was seeing his first game action since last year's ACL tear, and his availability helped lead to Adrian Peterson getting the night off...In yet another chapter of TE Jordan Reed's Groundhog Day-ish existence, the veteran was forced from Thursday's game to be evaluated for a possible concussion after getting hit in the helmet on a catch in the second quarter. Reed reportedly started exhibiting concussion symptoms after halftime, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Reed has suffered at least five concussions since the start of his college career, and his status for the regular-season opener will now be dependent on him clearing the league-mandated protocol for head injuries.