2023 NFL Preseason Recap and Fantasy Football Notes: Week 2

Aidan O'Connell
**** NOTES FOR EVERY GAME WILL BE UP AS SOON AS I WATCH THEM **** Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

2023 Preseason Notes: Week 1
2023 Fantasy Football Stock Pages: Preseason Stock Week 1

Redskins 29, Ravens 28

  • The Redskins have a new offense, so they believed that they needed to play their starters for an entire first half. This put their players at risk of injury in exchange for no upside, given that they would be battling backups and thus would not learn anything. It seemed for a while that they would avoid injury, but that changed in the final couple of minutes when Terry McLaurin limped off the field. McLaurin could be OK, but this was foolish coaching by Ron Rivera.

    With McLaurin injured, Jahan Dotson took over as the primary receiver versus Baltimore. This is why Dotson led the team with seven targets. I already loved Dotson as a mid-round value, so the possibility that McLaurin is injured only raises his stock.

  • Sam Howell looked good in one half of action, though it was going to be difficult for him not to, given that he was battling Baltimore’s reserves. Howell took a sack early, but was able to recover on a third-and-long by going through his progressions and converting on a pass to Cole Turner. Much later, Howell escaped a sack, scramble away, and found Dotson for a 20-yard gain. Howell ultimately went 19-of-25 for 188 yards and two touchdowns to go along with three scrambles for 17 rushing yards. These are excellent numbers for one half of work, but once again, this happened against players who will be out of work in a few weeks.

    Here were Howell’s targets:

    Dyami Brown: 4 (3 end zone)
    Jahan Dotson: 7
    Antonio Gibson: 4
    Terry McLaurin: 3
    Brian Robinson: 4
    Curtis Samuel: 1
    Cole Turner: 3

  • The Ravens played mostly backups, but one exception was first-round rookie receiver Zay Flowers. He began by catching an 11-yard pass by breaking a tackle of first-round cornerback Emmanuel Forbes. He then got open on a busted coverage and evaded a defender to score a touchdown. Flowers’ two receptions went for 37 yards and a touchdown.

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    Seahawks 22, Cowboys 14

  • Geno Smith didn’t play very much, but we were at least able to see a starting quarterback for a bit during the final preseason game on Saturday. Smith looked sharp, connecting on 5-of-6 passes for 46 yards. The lone incompletion was a drop by Dareke Young.

    Here were Smith’s targets:

    Jake Bobo: 1
    Zach Charbonnet: 1
    Will Dissly: 1
    Tyler Lockett: 1
    Jaxon Smith-Njigba: 1
    Dareke Young: 1

  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba converted his sole target from Geno Smith against the Cowboys, but it was the reception he made with Drew Lock that defined his night. Smith-Njigba hauled in an over-the-shoulder catch deep downfield for a gain of 48 yards in the second quarter. He was tackled just shy of the goal line, so with a bit of luck, he would have scored a touchdown as well. It’s still early, but Smith-Njigba easily looks like the best of the first-round receivers at the moment.

  • Seattle’s second-round rookie, Zach Charbonnet, started in this game with Kenneth Walker resting. Charbonnet’s first two carries didn’t go anywhere, but his third rush saw him gain 29 yards, as he made one cut and burst through a big hole. Charbonnet’s three attempts went for 31 yards. He also caught a 1-yard pass.

  • As for the Cowboys, there’s not much to say unless we’re discussing impressive rookie running back Deuce Vaughn. The Kansas State product scored on a 14-yard touchdown where he made a dynamic cut and then broke out of a tackle. This prompted one of the Seattle announcers to gasp, “Oh my goodness.”

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: Seattle’s play-by-play guy was incredibly annoying. She kept shouting phrases and ending on a high note like some famous character from a movie. I can’t remember who this character was because I’m so tired right now.

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    Raiders 34, Rams 17

  • Reports from earlier in the summer seemed to indicate that there was a chance Jimmy Garoppolo would miss the entire season. We can now say that this was complete nonsense, as Garoppolo was able to take the field in the second preseason game. Garoppolo looked sharp, albeit in a small sample size against a backup defense. He completed all four of his passes for 39 yards on his lone drive.

    Here were Garoppolo’s targets:

    Ameer Abdullah: 1
    Phillip Dorsett: 1
    Michael Mayer: 1
    Jakobi Meyers: 1

  • OK, enough about Garoppolo. Let’s get to the star of this game. That would be Aidan O’Connell. And no, I’m not joking. After enjoying a nice debut versus the 49ers last week, O’Connell was incredible in his second preseason action.

    O’Connell’s first pass was sketchy, as he missed an open receiver for a potential touchdown by a mile, but he came back and made a nice throw to Keelan Cole for a gain of 21 yards. He then launched a 34-yard bomb and followed that up with a beautiful touch pass for a touchdown. After suffering through some drops, O’Connell zipped a 17-yard pass through a very tight window. He didn’t need to do much after that because the Raiders had such a big lead.

    It’s rare that I’m very excited about a backup quarterback in the preseason, but I felt this way about Brock Purdy last year. The Raiders may have something similar in O’Connell, who is so poised in the pocket despite being a rookie. He goes through all of his progressions and delivers accurate throws. He went 11-of-18 for 163 yards and two touchdowns, and it’s not like made short tosses that his receivers turned into big gains. O’Connell constantly fired downfield shots with confidence, and most of those attempts were complete. What’s crazy is that his numbers would have been even better if a couple of his receivers hadn’t dropped passes.

  • The Rams also have a rookie quarterback, though Stetson Bennett wasn’t nearly as good as O’Connell. Bennett caught fire on the third drive, completing four consecutive strikes to set up a field goal. However, Bennett had a roller coaster evening because disaster struck on the next possession. He was nearly picked while drifting left and firing late, but despite getting lucky on that occasion, his very next throw was a pick-six where he floated an ugly pass. The Rams announcers wondered if this was a miscommunication, but it was still a miserable pass.

    As if that wasn’t bad enough, Bennett almost was pick-sixed again on a telegraphed throw, but the Raider defender dropped the ball. Bennett, at the very least, was able to come back with a 26-yard completion on a back-shoulder throw. On the flip side, he fired behind his intended receiver while on the run on another occasion.

    Bennett went 15-of-24 for 142 yards and an interception. I expected more out of the two-time college football national champion.

  • Bennett had a nice connection with rookie tight end Davis Allen, who caught eight passes for 53 yards. The fifth-rounder played the entire night to make up for missed time in camp. If Tyler Higbee were to get hurt, Allen could be a decent replacement.

  • Another Rams fifth-round rookie, Puka Nacua, was someone I wanted to watch tonight as well because he had been getting hype. Nacua didn’t even play, however, which is a great sign for his role in the starting offense.

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    Buccaneers 13, Jets 6

  • Neither team played their starters, so we had a battle between Kyle Trask and Zach Wilson. Trask had not performed well entering this contest, but he took a nice step forward in his development in this game.

    Trask played the entire first half and then reentered the game once John Wolford got hurt. He went 20-of-28 for 218 yards and a touchdown. Despite these solid numbers, Trask’s stats could have been even better had a pair of his receivers not dropped passes. It was a shame for Trask, as one of the drops occurred on one of his better throws. Trask stood strong in the pocket while facing a blitzer, yet he was able to drill a pass to his receiver for a considerable gain. There was no gain at all, however, because the receiver couldn’t hold on to the ball.

  • Second-year tight end Cade Otton made a nice play while catching two passes for 17 yards. One of the receptions saw Otton break a tackle to pick up a first down.

  • As for the Jets, Israel Abanikanda was the player I was looking forward to most. Abanikanda, however, didn’t play very much. He rushed four times, gaining 30 yards. However, he suffered a thigh contussion and was ultimately ruled out for the rest of the game.

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    Colts 24, Bears 17

  • This game had almost nothing of substance, as neither team played their starters. There also weren’t many interesting rookies who were showcased, though there was one obvious exception.

    That exception was Bears rookie running back Roschon Johnson. The fourth-round rookie has shown some promise this summer, and that continued in this game. His best run was a 12-yard gain in which he showed some great burst. He rushed for 32 yards on seven carries, and he also caught an 11-yard screen pass. All of this might seem bullish, but the bearish sentiment would be that he clearly played behind D’Onta Foreman in this game. Foreman is likely to take over as the early-down back in the event of a Khalil Herbert injury, though Johnson would certainly serve as the third-down back.

    And speaking of Herbert, he was completely absent with the other starters. It seems as though his role as the primary ball carrier is cemented.

  • I’m still shocked the Colts didn’t play Anthony Richardson at all. Richardson is a raw quarterback who needs all the reps he can get. Indianapolis disagreed, keeping Richardson on the bench the entire time, while Patrick Mahomes even threw the ball 15 times.
  • NFL Preseason Announcers: The Colts are infamous for having two extremely old men as their announcers. I swear, I heard something like, “Back in my day, we had this guy named Eric McSnow who would tackle uphill in the snow both ways” on so many occasions.

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    Titans 24, Vikings 16

  • Please note that the Week 2 preseason recaps will be late because my wife is scheduled for a C-section Friday to have our second child.

  • Those expecting to see Will Levis play in this game were greatly disappointed because the second-round rookie quarterback was out with an injury. Fortunately, we were able to see another exciting rookie emerge from Tennessee’s backfield.

    That player was Tyjae Spears, who made a big impact in this game. Spears converted a third-and-4 with a 10-yard gain, as he made a man miss and got the edge. Shortly after that, Spears scored on a 33-yard touchdown where he leapt over a Viking. Spears ended up with 57 yards and that touchdown on seven carries. He also caught a 3-yard pass.

  • With Levis sidelined, the only quarterback Tennessee had available was Malik Willis. While Willis had lots of success on the ground – 11 scrambles, 91 rushing yards – his passing left much to be desired, as he went 10-of-17 for only 85 yards, one touchdown and an interception. The pick was the result of Willis not seeing linebacker Troy Dye. Willis made some very questionable throws, including one where he threw the ball right at the feet of one of his receivers. This prompted the Vikings announcer to shout, “Throws incomplete, come oooonnn!”

  • Speaking of quarterbacks, the Vikings used their own rookie, Jaren Hall, in the second half. Hall looked good at times, including one pass where he sidestepped a pass rusher and floated a dime to his receiver for what would have been a 40-yard completion had a defensive back not broken up the ball at the very last second. Hall went 4-of-7 for 49 yards, and he also scrambled twice for 14 rushing yards.

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    Saints 22, Chargers 17

  • Neither the Saints nor Chargers played their starters, but there were a couple of promising rookies on display; one on each team. Beginning with the Saints, Kendre Miller was a surprise active after spraining his knee last week. Early indications were that Miller wouldn’t be able to play until the season opener, but he was able to take the field just one week after suffering the injury.

    Miller was highly impressive versus the Chargers. He converted an early short-yardage power run, but his big play was a 25-yard over-the-shoulder catch on a wheel route. Miller then powered into the end zone on the very next play. Miller rushed for 23 yards and the score on 10 carries, and he also caught three passes for 36 receiving yards. Miller would’ve had a fourth catch, but it was wiped out by penalty. All pessimism regarding Miller should be eliminated, except for the fact that Alvin Kamara looked tremendous a week ago. Still, Miller should have an impact during Kamara’s three-game suspension.

  • The Chargers’ promising rookie is Quentin Johnson, the team’s first-round pick. Johnston caught a touchdown last week, but wasn’t able to replicate that performance. Johnston caught three passes for 37 yards instead. It must be noted that Johnston didn’t drop a pass in this game after committing three drops in his debut.

  • There are two quarterbacks worth mentioning as well. The first is rookie Jake Haener, who was able to rebound from last week’s dud debut. Haener looked much better this time, constantly making quick and decisive throws. Haener’s best pass was when he escaped the pocket and fired a ball downfield for a 55-yard connection to Keith Kirkwood. Haener finished 11-of-17 for 118 yards.

    The other quarterback was Max Duggan. I was excited to watch the Charger rookie, but he didn’t even play! Easton Stick was the only quarterback on the field for the Chargers, which tells me that Duggan is likely safe, and the team wanted to showcase Stick for a trade. Unfortunately for the Chargers, no one will be interested after watching Stick go 21-of-41 for 233 yards and two interceptions.

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    49ers 21, Broncos 20

  • It was previously unknown when Brock Purdy would be ready to play this season. It’s now clear, however, that Purdy will be ready for Week 1. Purdy started the second preseason game and was terrific, albeit in a small sample size. Purdy sliced through Denver’s defense with ease, leading the 49ers to a field goal on his sole drive. He was 4-of-5 for 65 yards on the possession despite not having Christian McCaffrey at his disposal.

    Here were Purdy’s targets:

    Brandon Aiyuk: 1
    Jauan Jennings: 1
    Deebo Samuel: 3

  • The 49ers featured Deebo Samuel on the opening possession, as Samuel caught two of his three targets for 39 yards. Before you get too excited, however, keep in mind that McCaffrey did not play. McCaffrey has taken away a lot of Samuel’s opportunities, so Samuel would only consistently produce like this if McCaffrey were to get hurt.

  • Trey Lance was the third quarterback into the game after Purdy and Sam Darnold. Lance began by throwing a hideous interception, as he panicked under pressure and tossed the ball right to a defensive lineman. Lance was fortunate to get away with a second potential interception that was dropped. Lance looked good on other occasions, allowing him to go 12-of-18 for 173 yards and one touchdown otherwise, but keep in mind that he did this versus third- and fourth-string defenders.

  • Like Purdy, Russell Wilson was on the field for one drive. He also led his team to a field goal, but didn’t play as well as his counterpart. Wilson went just 3-of-6 for 24 yards, though he was able to scramble thrice for 25 rushing yards.

    Here were Wilson’s targets:

    Jerry Jeudy: 1 (1 end zone)
    Marvin Mims: 1
    Javonte Williams: 3

  • The Broncos featured Javonte Williams in their second preseason game, as he was able to take the field for the first time since his torn ACL. This was a mistake, as Williams will be vulnerable to other leg injuries because he’s not too far removed from the ACL tear. Williams also didn’t look very explosive, as Samaje Perine seemed to be the better back. If this is a surprise to you, simply recall how Saquon Barkley looked after his torn ACL. Williams rushed for 12 yards on three carries, and he also caught four passes for 18 receiving yards. He dropped a pass as well.

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    Chiefs 38, Cardinals 10

  • It’s a strange world that we live in, given that the Chiefs believed Patrick Mahomes needed 15 attempts in his second preseason game, while Anthony Richardson was fine to sit out despite being a raw rookie. I’m against established veterans playing in the preseason, but it’s impossible to argue with Andy Reid’s success.

    Though the Chiefs ultimately scored 38 points, and Mahomes posted a quality stat line, Kansas City’s first-string offense had a sluggish start to this game. Rashee Rice dropped a 12-yard slant pass. Justin Watson had a 15-yard reception negated by offensive pass interference. Travis Kelce then dropped a shovel pass. This was followed by a Richie James 9-yard end-around being nullified by a hold. And if that wasn’t enough, Justyn Ross dropped a short toss.

    Despite all of this, Mahomes went 10-of-15 for 105 yards and a touchdown. His numbers should have been better, but the important thing is that the Chiefs were likely to be able to knock the rust off during this meaningless game.

    Here were Mahomes’ targets:

    Blake Bell: 1
    Clyde Edwards-Helaire: 2
    Noah Gray: 1
    Travis Kelce: 2
    Jerick McKinnon: 2
    Skyy Moore: 1
    Rashee Rice: 2
    Justyn Ross: 2
    Marquez Valdes-Scantling: 1
    Justin Watson: 2 (1 end zone)

  • If you look at the box score, Rashee Rice’s stat line for Week 2 of the preseason sticks out like a sore thumb, as he caught eight passes for 96 yards. Only two of his targets with Patrick Mahomes, however, and he dropped one of them. On the other hand, Rice looked very impressive after Mahomes left the field. Arizona’s defenders had major problems tackling him. Rice looks like he could contribute as this season progresses.

  • Skyy Moore had a disappointing output in the second preseason game. He caught two passes for six yards, but only one target was from Patrick Mahomes. The problem is that Mahomes threw to so many receivers. Excluding Moore, Mahomes targeted nine other players despite being on the field for just three drives, and that doesn’t even include Richie James, who received an end-around. There could just be way too many pieces to this offense for Moore to be deemed a viable sleeper.

  • Colt McCoy also played three drives, but he was predictably far less impressive. He was 5-of-8 for only 25 yards, as he threw mostly short tosses to his top threats, Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore.

    Here were McCoy’s targets:

    Marquise Brown: 2
    Trey McBride: 2
    Rondale Moore: 3
    Geoff Swaim: 1

  • There’s a chance McCoy won’t last very long as a starter. Rookie Clayton Tune impressed in his second preseason start. The completion percentage doesn’t look great (12-of-24), but Tune was robbed of some potential receptions. He threw for 133 yards, and he also scrambled six times for 35 rushing yards. Tune impressively converted a third-and-13 in the second quarter, and he was able to use his legs on multiple occasions to escape possible sacks. Arizona might as well go with him because he has much more upside than McCoy.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: Ron Wolfley was the color analyst, so we had some gems like:

    “You want a quarterback that’ll [sic] ride a goat into a stampede.”

    “Some guys play paddy cake … others will eat your cake!”

    “Matt Prater – bull rider, hahahahahaha!”

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    Patriots 21, Packers 17

  • If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought that this was a regular-season battle with high stakes on the line. The starters were on the field into the second quarter, and there was an electric atmosphere at Lambeau.

    Of course, the Packer faithful were eager to see how Jordan Love has progressed. They were disappointed early because Love lost a fumble when he wasn’t ready for the snap. He also hesitated and nearly got his fullback killed on a short toss. Love, however, bounced back with a great finish to his night. He completed a deep pass to Romeo Doubs, which had to be reversed by replay review, and then he fired a tremendous touchdown pass to Jayden Reed.

    The stats weren’t amazing, as Love went 5-of-8 for 84 yards and a touchdown. However, he was better than the numbers indicate. It’s difficult to judge how real this was because it certainly could have been a preseason mirage, but the Packers will be able to make the playoffs if Love performs like this come September.

    Here were Love’s targets:

    Josiah Deguara: 1
    Romeo Doubs: 2
    Luke Musgrave: 3
    Jayden Reed: 2

  • It’s no surprise that Jordan Love targeted Luke Musgrave more than anyone in the second preseason game. Musgrave, a great performer in training camp, caught two of his three targets for 13 yards. Green Bay has big plans for him this year.

  • The stats don’t show it, but Mac Jones had an adventerous night. Jones, who went 6-of-9 for 52 yards, was able to lead a touchdown drive, capped off by a Rhamondre Stevenson score. He did so by helping DeVante Parker draw an interference flag in the end zone. Jones, however, then went on to overthrow both Hunter Henry and DeVante Parker, and he was then charged with a lost fumble on a strip-sack via blind-side pressure.

    Here were Jones’ targets:

    Kendrick Bourne: 4
    Demario Douglas: 2
    Hunter Henry: 1
    DeVante Parker: 2 (1 end zone)

  • Kendrick Bourne had more targets (4) than anyone else on the team from Mac Jones in the second preseason game. This matches a report about Bourne being “the guy” in the New England receiving corps this season. Obviously, Bill Belichick can change his plans, but it appears as though Bourne should be chosen before any other New England wideout at the moment.

  • It remains to be seen if Kayshon Boutte has any sort of future on the Patriots, but he scored a 42-yard touchdown in this game. He reeled in a short slant and zoomed past the defenders for the score. Boutte was once considered a first-round draft prospect, so it’s not surprising that he made such a great play.

  • Rhamondre Stevenson had a violent 23-yard run in this game, as he was the exclusive back with the first-team offense. Stevenson dashed for 27 yards and a touchdown on four carries.

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    Steelers 27, Bills 15

  • There are several reasons to believe the Steelers are a Super Bowl sleeper this year, and one of them is Kenny Pickett’s potential progression. Pickett had a roller coaster rookie campaign, but seems to be so much sharper now that he has some experience. Including this game, Pickett has produced touchdowns in all three drives he’s been on the field in the preseason.

    Pickett only threw the ball four times against the Bills, completing three of them for 43 yards and a touchdown. His only blunder was a high throw toward Allen Robinson, but he made up for it on the next possession when he was able to zing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth down the seam. Pickett has looked great thus far, so he and his receivers should be upgraded in fantasy rankings accordingly.

    Here were Pickett’s targets:

    Pat Friermuth: 1 (1 end zone)
    George Pickens: 1
    Allen Robinson: 2

  • Najee Harris started the second preseason game, but he was once again the inferior back compared to Jaylen Warren. It didn’t take Warren very long to get going, as he zoomed past Buffalo’s starting defense for a 62-yard touchdown run on the opening possession, thanks in part to a great block by Diontae Johnson. Warren is one of my favorite Fantasy Football Sleepers for this season, while Harris should be avoided at his ADP because Warren will take a big chunk of his workload.

  • Things didnt go as well for Josh Allen in this game. Pittsburgh’s ferocious pass rush smothered Allen in the backfield. Allen was constantly running for his life, and a hold by a blocker of his wiped out a 35-yard completion to Gabriel Davis. Allen went 7-of-10 for 64 yards during three scoreless drives.

    Here were Allen’s targets:

    Gabriel Davis: 3
    Stefon Diggs: 4
    Deonte Hardy: 1
    Dalton Kincaid: 1

  • I have to say that Gabriel Davis caught my attention. Davis was a massive disappointment last year, but he looked solid in the second game. He caught two passes for 29 yards, but his stat line should have been 3-64 if a hold didn’t wipe out a long reception of his. Davis was supposed to take a big leap in 2022, but perhaps we were a year early.

  • Dalton Kincaid caught the first reception by a Buffalo player in this game, but that was the only target he received from Josh Allen. Kincaid finished with three receptions for 45 yards, so his other two catches came with the backups.

  • James Cook started once again, but was unimpressive. With no running room, Cook was limited to three yards on three carries. This wasn’t a surprise, as the Steelers figure to boast one of the top defenses in the NFL this year.

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    Dolphins 28, Texans 3

  • C.J. Stroud had a poor debut last week, but he was given a chance to make amends for that in this contest. Despite the 28-3 Dolphins onslaught, Stroud performed much better than he did a week ago, which should have Houston supporters feeling more optimistic about their rookie quarterback.

    Things didn’t get off to a good start for Stroud, who took a delay-of-game penalty on the opening possession, squandering a great scoring opportunity following an early Miami turnover. However, Stroud bounced back on the following possession, leading the Texans on a lengthy drive. Stroud made a great touch pass to Noah Brown for a gain of 14 yards, and he then made a similar pass to Robert Woods shortly afterward.

    Stroud finished 7-of-12 for 60 yards. The stats aren’t pretty, but Stroud was much better than the numbers indicate.

    Here were Stroud’s targets:

    Andrew Beck: 1
    Noah Brown: 3
    Nico Collins: 3
    Dalton Schultz: 3
    Devin Singletary: 1
    Robert Woods: 1

  • One thing that might seem discouraging about this game for Houston was the odd receiver rotation the coaching staff deployed. The Texans have a pair of promising, young receivers in Tank Dell and John Metchie, yet neither was on the field with Stroud. Instead, the receivers Stroud had at his disposal were non-talents like Nico Collins and Noah Brown. One might heavily criticize the Texans coaching staff for not pairing Dell with Stroud, but Dell didn’t even play after warming up versus Miami. In fact, he was in street clothes the entire night. This has to be incredibly bullish for Dell’s outlook, as the coaches may already deem Dell to be the No. 1 receiver on the team.

  • What’s strange is that Dell didn’t play, while Dameon Pierce was on the field. Pierce gained 15 yards on six carries. Pierce, like Dell this year, didn’t play in Houston’s later preseason games because the coaching staff was so high on him. I’m not sure what to make of Pierce’s usage in this game.

  • As for the Dolphins, Tua Tagovailoa was on the field for two drives. The first possession ended rather quickly, as Tagovailoa was picked on his very first pass when he didn’t see a defender in coverage. Tagovailoa then wasn’t ready for the snap on the initial snap of the second drive, which nearly resulted in a safety.

    Just when things looked bleak, Tagovailoa began slicing through Houston’s defense, ultimately leading a touchdown drive that was capped off by a Raheem Mostert run into the end zone. Tagovailoa finished 5-of-7 for 61 yards and the pick.

    Here were Tagovailoa’s targets:

    Salvon Ahmed: 1
    Braxton Berrios: 1
    Erik Ezukanma: 1
    Tyreek Hill: 1
    Durham Smythe: 2

  • De’Von Achane suffered a shoulder injury in this game after finishing with 27 yards on six carries. Even before getting hurt, he was out-performed by both Raheem Mostert (6-30, TD) and Salvon Ahmed (12-99).

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    Jaguars 25, Lions 7

  • It was regrettable that this was the featured 1 p.m. game. A preseason contest that was supposed to feature Trevor Lawrence and Jahmyr Gibbs was completely devoid of starters. With the exception of one person, no one of significance played in this affair.

    That one person is Jaguars rookie running back Tank Bigsby. His numbers are impressive, as he rumbled for 70 yards on 13 carries. Granted, a 13-yard of his was a completely meaningless play on a third-and-18 that Detroit willingly surrendered, but Bigsby also had a nifty 15-yard run negated by a hold. He then broke for a 20-yard gain by getting the edge and bursting past the hapless Detroit reserve defense.

    Bigsby looked good, and he’s a threat to take some of Travis Etienne’s workload. Remember that Doug Pederson likes to deploy a running back by committee.

  • Teddy Bridgewater, by contrast, looked horrendous. I’m not referring to his actual play – he was 5-of-11 for 34 yards, but didn’t get any sort of pass protection – but rather his odd No. 50 jersey. It appears as though the NFL’s decision to allow players to wear whichever number they choose has finally backfired.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: This was a real quote from the Detroit color analyst: “You love to see Tracy Walker making a play.” The problem? This “play” was a tackle at the end of a 20-yard run!

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    Falcons 13, Bengals 13

  • The Bengals didn’t play their starters, which is OK because the Falcons showcased theirs. This includes Bijan Robinson, who happened to play behind Tyler Allgeier in this game. The fans booed when Allgeier was given a touch, but they weren’t upset for very long. Robinson took the field a couple of plays later, and his first run was a gain of 13 yards, featuring two nasty jukes. Robinson then made a one-handed catch, making a defender miss in the process. Robinson was also open for a potential touchdown reception, but Desmond Ridder didn’t see him. The rookie runner dashed for 20 yards on four carries, and he also had a 6-yard reception.

  • As mentioned, Ridder didn’t see Robinson in the end zone for a potential touchdown. Granted, there was a holding penalty on the play, but it was a questionable call. Ridder also threw a high pass in Drake London’s direction, and he was ultimately picked on the final play of the night for him off a deflection. The Atlanta announcers complained that there should have been pass interference called, and they may have been correct.

    Here were Ridder’s targets:

    KhaDarel Hodge: 1
    Mack Hollins: 2
    Drake London: 3
    Scotty Miller: 1
    Kyle Pitts: 1

  • If it wasn’t for Bijan Robinson, all the talk of the Falcons’ second preseason game would have been centered on Drake London. The second-year receiver caught two passes for 33 yards. One of them was a great back-shoulder catch in which London did a great job of planting his knee inbounds. London looked great, and I expect him to have a stellar season.

  • A couple of players of note for the Bengals: Chase Brown continued to look very ordinary at best, mustering just 18 yards on nine carries. He was at least able to convert a goal-line carry for a touchdown, powering into the end zone. Andrei Iosivas, meanwhile, continued to perform well, catching five passes for 44 yards. His best catch was a 17-yard reception in which he fought through pass interference to make a sliding grab.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: One of the Falcons color analysts pulled an Emmitt: “He probably coulda camed down with that catch.”

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    Giants 21, Panthers 19

  • Bryce Young once again started for the Panthers. He was on the field for a couple of drives, but failed to make a great impression. The offensive line struggled in the previous game, and that was once again the case against the Giants’ defensive front. Young, as a result, had to hurry some throws, and he also stumbled in the pocket on one occasion. Young finished just 3-of-6 for 35 yards. He also scrambled once for a single rushing yard.

    Here were Young’s targets:

    D.J. Chark: 1
    Hayden Hurst: 1
    Jonathan Mingo: 4
    Adam Thielen: 2

  • The Panthers featured second-round rookie receiver Jonathan Mingo extensively when Young was on the field, unlike last week. We saw a flash of brilliance from Mingo when he bounced off a tackler for a gain of 15 yards. However, he was able to haul in just one reception for 15 yards. He failed to reel in a pass because he didn’t see the ball, and he also had a miscommunication with Young on one route.

  • As for Carolina’s other receivers, Adam Thielen snatched one of his two targets for seven yards, while D.J. Chark saw just one ball go his way, catching it for 13 yards. It’s discouraging that Chark saw only one target, but this was a small sample size, so I wouldn’t read much into it. This is a situation to avoid anyway.

  • Moving on to the Giants, Daniel Jones was much sharper than Young. It definitely helped that the New York offensive line was much better than Carolina’s. Jones was pressured only once, as he went 8-of-9 for 69 yards and a touchdown. It must be noted that Brian Burns wasn’t on the field, but it’s not a surprise that Jones has taken a big step in his development with stellar coaching and improved blocking aiding him.

    Here were Jones’ targets:

    Daniel Bellinger: 1 (1 end zone)
    Parris Campbell: 2
    Isaiah Hodgins: 1
    Darren Waller: 4

  • Jones was all about targeting Darren Waller. He threw to Waller on his first three passes, though Waller dropped the third target. Waller looked great otherwise, catching three of his four targets for 30 yards.

  • Rookie receiver Jalin Hyatt did very little last week, but things changed in the second preseason contest. Things didn’t begin well, as Hyatt dropped a pass near the red zone. The Giants announcers were shocked, saying he’s been “money every day in practice.” Hyatt then caught a 33-yard touchdown on the very next play. Hyatt finished with four catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: The Giants’ color analyst repeatedly referred to the defense as “calvalry,” which I thought was kind of cool. Meanwhile, the Giants’ sideline reporter seemed to like kissing the butt of every player he interviewed. He asked the following question to Bobby Okereke: “Do you think of yourself as a tackling macheeeeeene?”

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    Eagles 18, Browns 18

  • Please note that the Week 2 preseason recaps will be late because my wife is scheduled for a C-section Friday to have our second child.

  • Neither the Eagles nor the Browns used their starters in this tie game. Instead, Marcus Mariota and Dorian Thompson-Robinson started for their respective teams. Thompson-Robinson was obviously the more interesting player, as Mariota struggled throughout the opening half. Thompson-Robinson, on the other hand, looked terrific at times. He threw a number of impressive passes, including one where he fit the ball through a tight window for a gain of about 20 yards. On another throw, Thompson-Robinson hit his receiver with a beautiful back-shoulder ball for a gain of 35, displaying phenomenal touch. Thompson-Robinson didn’t lead the Browns on a touchdown drive, but he should have on the opening possession because his running back fumbled at the Philadelphia 1-yard line.

    Having said that, Thompson-Robinson made some poor throws as well. A few of his attempts were either high or behind his target. That would help explain Thompson-Robinson’s completion percentage (13-of-25). He threw for 164 yards, and he also scrambled four times for 18 rushing yards.

  • Two of Thompson-Robinson’s targets played well. Cedric Tillman started and caught two passes for 50 yards, looking impressive in the process. Then, there’s Austin Watkins, who has led the Browns in receiving this preseason. No one has been able to cover Watkins thus far, including the Eagles. Watkins caught seven passes for 139 yards and a touchdown in this game. The only blemish on the night was a dropped pass.

  • Mariota, as mentioned, performed poorly. I was eager to see Tanner McKee instead, but McKee didn’t enter the game until the second half. McKee instantly threw some stellar back-shoulder passes, but they were both dropped by his receivers. McKee ultimately led two touchdown drives, with Trey Sermon finding the end zone on the first occasion. McKee went 11-of-19 for 149 yards and a touchdown. His numbers would’ve been better if it weren’t for those drops.

  • Last week, there was great buzz about Kenneth Gainwell not playing at all despite D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny being on the field. This time, Gainwell started and then was supplanted by Penny, as Swift took a breather. This surely halts the momentum Gainwell had, especially after he was tackled for a safety on his initial carry. Gainwell eventually broke free for an 8-yard gain on his other carry. Having said that, Gainwell has been receiving first-team reps in practice, so perhaps he and Swift will share a time share. Penny, however, seems to be out of the mix to be a starter. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Sermon won the No. 3 job over him. Sermon dashed for 54 yards and a touchdown on five carries.

  • NFL Preseason Announcers: I have nothing negative to say about the Eagles’ announcers because the color analyst gave us this gem:

    Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

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