Apologies for the quantity of takeaways this week. Because the regular season gets closer, the nuggets continue steadily to multiply like fights in a joint practice.
1) The most typical phrase during Steelers preseason games the final fourteen days has been “Trubisky back again to pass, pocket collapses.” It has been hard to judge Mitch Trubisky under constant duress, but he’s organized pretty well. Due to the fact he’s still taking all of the first-team reps used, it’s hard to assume Kenny Pickett taking his job.
On the other hand, Pickett did everything possible in the preseason to shorten Trubisky’s leash. Pickett only had eight snaps Saturday & most of these involved excellent quick decisions where he browse the defense and delivered an on-target throw. He’s shown touch and good situational awareness. It’s curious coach Mike Tomlin gave Mason Rudolph the complete second half (29 snaps) this week instead of get Pickett more experience. All three quarterbacks have great preseason numbers. The Steelers offensive line has been so very bad throughout camp and in the preseason that Tomlin could be cautious with putting a rookie behind it in Week 1, but it is a matter of time now before it’s Pickett’s team.
2) Greg Rousseau has locked up the Bills’ starting edge rusher job opposite Von Miller, if there is any doubt. With Miller and Ed Oliver attracting attention, Rousseau is established for a jump. A.J. Epenesa is apparently the very best reserve, in accordance with Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic.
4) The Panthers installed No. 6 overall pick Ikem Ekwonu because the starting left tackle a couple weeks later than expected. Practice reports indicate Ekwonu has been better as a run blocker than pass protector up to now and that showed contrary to the Patriots on Friday, when he quit two quick sacks. Theoretically, the move should upgrade the Panthers at two positions, with Brady Christensen sliding inside to protect.
Carolina’s offensive line has been on the list of league’s worst in both years under Matt Rhule. Pat Elflein is really a concern because the likely starter at center following Bradley Bozeman‘s ankle injury, but overall the personnel is way better in advance for the Panthers. Will the coaching be?
5) Geno Smith‘s first drive ended on an ideal throw that has been dropped. His second drive ended on a batted ball at the type of scrimmage. His third drive had a fourth-down conversion nullified by penalty, and his fourth drive included another killer drop close to the goal line. I’m in the bag for Geno, but I don’t believe Pete Carroll will ding Smith much because of this performance, which earned the 10-year vet an 80.7 grade from PFF — second-highest of any Seahawk on Thursday. Drew Lock missed the overall game after testing positive for COVID, with Carroll telling reporters afterward that Lock, who returned to apply on Sunday, was “really sick.” Lock’s absence changed Carroll’s plans, and Smith and Lock rotated first-team reps at practice. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday the hope was that Lock could easily get his preseason start this week, which means this battle isn’t quite over yet.
6) Dontrell Hilliard appears locked in because the Titans’ third-down back, in accordance with PaulKuharsky.com. After Derrick Henry‘s injury this past year, it’ll be interesting to see if Mike Vrabel backs off his workhorse’s workload a little this season.
7) The Patriots want to solve their cornerback shortcomings in an innovative way. Jonathan Jones, among the league’s better slot corners, is currently set up to start out externally opposite Jalen Mills. This can help keep their finest players on the field. Myles Bryant may be the leading candidate for the slot spot.
8) Bill Belichick may be the latest coach that believes he is able to unlock Ty Montgomery being an offensive weapon. The 29-year-old may be the expected alternative to James White and probably the most likely candidate to become a thorn in the medial side of Rhamondre Stevenson fantasy owners.
9) Your weekly Justin Watson update: With JuJu Smith-Schuster banged up, Watson was the Chiefs’ starter opposite Marques Valdez-Scantling in two-receiver sets. While MVS had not been on a single page as Mahomes using one potential big play and dropped another pass, Watson had two grabs for 53 yards in two drives before Mahomes left the overall game.
10) It’s good to see Titans 2021 first-round pick Caleb Farley healthy and playing football again. The quantity of football he’s played in the preseason indicates he’s behind rookie Roger McCreary, making Farley fourth on the depth chart. He looks just a little stiff. The Titans’ young corners — their top four players at the positioning were all drafted in the initial three rounds since 2020 — will make or break their defense.
11) Former Eagle Matt Pryor is defined to dominate the Colts’ starting left tackle job. Alongside questions at right guard and a standard insufficient depth, this group is actually inferior to one that Philip Rivers surely got to play behind 2 yrs ago.
12) I’ll admit to being not really acquainted with undrafted Steelers rookie running back Jaylen Warren per month ago. Now he is apparently the favorite for the backup job behind Najee Harris, in accordance with Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. The person is 5-foot-8 and the cousin of “Fast” Willie Parker. What’s never to love?
13) Mack Hollins has emerged because the Raiders’ No. 3 receiver. He’s nearly a fantasy sleeper, but it’s impressive how Hollins took your hands on employment in a deep group.
14) Antonio Gibson didn’t have a particular teams role in Ron Rivera’s first two seasons as Washington coach. Gibson returned the opening kickoff Saturday, moments before rookie Brian Robinson started the overall game at running back. Gibson had two carries and three catches in the overall game, mostly using backups. While I don’t believe both runners have flipped roles, Rivera flatly said the other day he is likely to opt for the hot hand at running back and that Gibson must “run harder.” After Gibson received 206 touches as a rookie and 300 last season, it’s safe to anticipate a lower life expectancy workload from the 24-year-old.
15) Before Malcolm Rodriguez stole America’s heart on Hard Knocks, he got an essential stamp of approval in this column fourteen days ago. This is simply not a manufactured storyline, but a surprise position battle result being documented instantly. Rodrigo’s rise may possibly also say a whole lot concerning the Lions’ still-lacking linebacker depth chart, where Derrick Barnes and Jarrad Davis may also be vying for snaps. I really like the Lions’ defensive coaching staff, but there are a great number of questions because of this group at linebacker and cornerback.
16) In a modest surprise, 2020 No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah is trending toward winning a starting job opposite Amani Oruwariye, per Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. While that is at the very least partly in line with the up-and-down play of Will Harris, it must be a welcome development for the Lions.
17) It’s cool to visit a young player realize a lifelong dream instantly. USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin returned a punt and kickoff for touchdowns through the Cowboys’ win Saturday night. By the next half of the overall game, he was asked to take his shoulder pads off, and Dallas coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Turpin will undoubtedly be their returner to start out the growing season. Considering how thin the Cowboys are in wideout, you shouldn’t be surprised to see Turpin worked in to the mix as a gadget player.
(The Chargers special teams, meanwhile, is actually in midseason form quitting two touchdowns in a single half.)
18) In accordance with Nick Eastman at the Cowboys team website, 2021 second-round pick Kelvin Joseph isn’t a lock to help make the final roster. That might be a surprise, but he clearly hasn’t cracked the very best rotation of Cowboys corners: Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis. With Lewis (hamstring) possibly out for Week 1, fifth-round rookie DaRon Bland could be next in line after getting love throughout camp.
19) A Sunday headline from the OG site Pewter Report: “Bucs’ (Kyle) Trask Experiment Is All But Over.” While that feels harsh, Trask likely sunk his possiblity to function as Bucs’ backup QB this year with a rough outing contrary to the Titans. Tom Brady, who returned to apply on Monday, ought to be supported by Blaine Gabbert again.
21) Kellen Mond threw two grisly picks in the Vikings’ second preseason game. While Sean Mannion could be better, picking right up the team’s backup from the different roster is practical. On Monday, Minnesota made a trade with the Raiders for Nick Mullens, who’s probably now the favourite for the work, unless the team will get someone better. The Rams can’t cut John Wolford or Bryce Perkins if they know Vikings coach (and former Rams offensive coordinator) Kevin O’Connell is there, waiting to swoop in.
22) The Cardinals cornerback situation is really a concern, with the Chiefs looming as Week 1 opponents. Early in camp, Kliff Kingsbury managed to get clear the starting job opposite Byron Murphy had not been necessarily Marco Wilson‘s. Antonio Hamilton, a seventh-year pro with four career starts, may be the leader in the clubhouse, based on the team’s website. The Cardinals could keep a watch on the waiver wire too.
23) The Bears’ 2021 second-round pick Teven Jenkins, reported by NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo to be on the trade block earlier in camp, has moved to right guard and immediately was installed with the starting unit. If Jenkins winds up starting, it may be close to Larry Borom. Veteran pickup Riley Reiff was the expected starter, but he’s struggled to remain on the field.
25) Among the early egregious errors of the Urban Meyer era in Jacksonville was misusing second-round pick Tyson Campbell as a rookie, attempting to make Campbell right into a slot corner until late September this past year, when C.J. Henderson was traded. With Campbell externally once and for all now, the daily practice reports from the wonderful John Shipley at Jaguar Report indicate he already appears like the team’s No.1 cornerback, and like among their finest defensive players overall. Campbell supported the love by shutting down Steelers wideout George Pickens on Saturday. The Jaguars need foundational pieces on defense, and Campbell is shaping into one.
26) While I’m stealing Shipley’s takes, it has been fascinating to learn that veteran journeyman Zay Jones has outperformed high-priced free agent Christian Kirk and former first-rounder Evan Engram in Jaguars camp, emerging as Trevor Lawrence‘s favorite target in August. Kirk did have a good effort (five catches for 54 yards) in the Jags’ second preseason game.
28) Saints coach Dennis Allen said dual-threat running back Alvin Kamara looks “exceptionally explosive” and contains had as “good a camp” as Allen has seen. I do not get too worked up about campspeak, but Kamara’s talent is otherworldly, no injury news is fantastic news for him.
29) Courtland Sutton wins in the regions of the field that Russell Wilson loves best. As the Broncos’ starters won’t play in the preseason, the practice reports cite Sutton and Wilson’s chemistry as undeniable. Moreover, Sutton is by all accounts moving better and using more confidence than he did this past year, when he was fresh off a torn ACL.
30) Chargers second-year pro Joshua Palmer‘s improved practice reports have already been supported by flashy preseason play. Search for a leap for the promising young third wideout behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
31) 49ers 2020 first-rounder Javon Kinlaw, coming off ACL surgery in 2021, is noticeably slimmer and looks healthier than he’s got as an expert. He’s set to start out and could function as skeleton key to making the 49ers’ front seven the very best in football.
32) No news is mainly good news with regards to the Vikings’ pass-rushing duo of Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter. Both players are healthy. Noted big-nugget-number wannabe Arif Hasan observed that Smith was the Vikings’ defensive standout in joint practices with the 49ers, matching Nick Bosa‘s performance. Minnesota’s defensive line could possibly be nasty, with the edge duo complemented by Dalvin Tomlinson and Harrison Phillips stopping the run in the centre.
33) Tashan Reed of The Athletic reports that the Raiders want in Ndamukong Suh, who’s seeking $9 million each year. That number explains why the 35-year-old Suh continues to be a free of charge agent despite showing he is able to still play as a Buc this past year. If Suh is ready to take half that much, he ought to be with a team by Week 1. The Raiders, Browns and Cowboys all have an excessive amount of cap space and may work with a big body in advance.
THOUGHTS APPROACHING CUTS
34) Bills tight end O.J. Howard was playing late in the fourth quarter of the preseason opener. He didn’t seem to be moving that well. The guaranteed profit Howard’s contract and having less depth at the positioning should keep carefully the former Bucs first-rounder safe, but he might not have a lot of a job.
35) The Rams aren’t even using 2021 second-round pick Tutu Atwell in the preseason, that is wild. His roster spot appears safe even though he’s a 151-pound fourth (at best) receiver who doesn’t play special teams. Undrafted rookie Lance McCutcheon, meanwhile, was turning around Texans cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., drafted third overall this season, on Friday night and contains a go to win the preseason triple crown in yards, catches and TD catches. Look out, Cooper Kupp!
36) Texans defensive tackle Ross Blacklock, the No. 40 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, is apparently externally looking set for a roster spot.
37) Former Bucs second-round running back Ronald Jones figures to be on a roster to start out the entire year, but he could be looking unlikely to help make the Chiefs.
39) Complicating Shaquille Leonard‘s return from back surgery is that he’s returning to a fresh system, with Gus Bradley stepping in to the defensive coordinator role for the Colts after Matt Eberflus left to teach the Bears. Zak Keefer of The Athletic noted that the plan was for Leonard to man the center linebacker role, with Bobby Okereke on the weak side. That is clearly a tiny shift for Leonard, would you not sound near returning, predicated on coach Frank Reich’s quotes. It almost feels as though the minimum period of time Leonard will miss may be the four games he’ll need to be out by virtue of being on the PUP list.
40) Pete Carroll was surely hoping his quarterback competition will be rendered irrelevant by the Seahawks’ status among the most run-heavy teams in football. However the procedure second-round pick Kenneth Walker recently underwent to repair a hernia could complicate matters. Carroll was initially optimistic about Walker returning for Week 1, but he said Sunday there is absolutely no timeline on his recovery. Carroll wants his 1-2 punch, with Walker and Rashaad Penny, to operate a vehicle the offense, nonetheless it could find yourself being both runners taking turns as the other is hurt. How come this always eventually the Seahawks’ backfield?
41) The Rams are that team that may play it safe. They’re expressing no serious concern with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson‘s soft-tissue injuries. Past precedent — including this month — suggests it really is unlikely, however, that both running backs will remain healthy via an NFL season.
42) It is a good sign that rookie Falcons receiver Drake London made the team’s trip to NJ for joint practices with the Jets, even though he wasn’t on the field. The eighth overall pick can not be a long way away from returning from a knee injury suffered in the preseason opener.
43) There are several different paths to recovery from the torn Achilles. Jets pass rusher Carl Lawson’s is apparently on the main one where he immediately resumes his role as among the team’s best players used. The timing of his injury last August gave Lawson, a high-profile signing last offseason, an improved possiblity to be completely back immediately in 2022.
44) It’s needs to appear to be 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey will not be back for the beginning of the growing season. (He’ll miss this week of practice.) Kyle Shanahan held out Colton McKivitz from the team’s preseason game because he’s the starter at this time. It’s hard to overstate how new and inexperienced the non-Trent Williams members of the 49ers’ line are. SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA could possibly be debuting four new starters in Week 1, most of whom have meager NFL pedigrees.
45) 2021 second-round pick Levi Onwuzurike missed the majority of last year’s training camp with a back injury and lasted one padded practice this season before suffering another back injury. Detroit’s front is deep. It’s not as deep needlessly to say if Onwuzurike doesn’t contribute and Romeo Okwara (returning from an Achilles injury) isn’t ready for the beginning of the growing season.
46) The Packers activated David Bakhtiari, who missed the majority of last season after tearing his ACL in 2020, from the PUP list Sunday in order that he could start doing individual drills at practice. While coach Matt LaFleur cautioned that it doesn’t have anything regarding the left tackle’s Week 1 status, it is a nice show of optimism. Staying on PUP through in a few days would have eliminated his likelihood of playing in the initial a month. Second-round receiver Christian Watson also took part in his first team drills of camp Sunday.
48) Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones remains on the PUP list after undergoing surgery this offseason, and his status for Week 1 is actually involved. Miami is thin at the positioning, and three depth players were hurt on Saturday.
49) It had been nice to see Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters, who missed most of 2021 with a torn ACL, come off the PUP list sooner than expected the other day. His status for Week 1 remains uncertain, while All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley is really a total mystery. He still hasn’t practiced due to an ankle injury and contains played seven games since 2019. This might function as week for Stanley to come back to create it back in its history for the opener. Or even, Ravens fans can look at their offensive line and begin to panic a little.
50) Everyone (raising hand) really wants to see what James Cook can perform in the Bills’ offense. A resurgent summer from Zack Moss plus some reported struggles in pass protection from Cook may have his role smaller than likely to start the growing season, in accordance with Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic.
51) It’s probably an excellent sign the Texans didn’t use rookie running back Dameon Pierce within their second preseason game. As the NFL cognoscenti overreacts to preseason usage (ahem), I saw what I saw the other day. Lovie Smith saw it, too.
53) San Francisco’s second-round pass rusher Drake Jackson has earned notice from beat writers throughout camp, and his explosion is obvious in the preseason. The NFC West can not be worked up about the 49ers uncovering just one more edge rusher.
54) It seems predicated on preseason usage that Saints first-round left tackle Trevor Penning has lost his battle for a starting job behind James Hurst. Penning did have an improved outing in his second preseason game. Hurst includes a foot injury, however, that is said to be minor. With Terron Armstead gone, the Saints’ offensive line has a lot more question marks than it did in the Drew Brees era.
55) For a lot of the offseason, the Cowboys and their fans acted like their receiver situation was fine, slotting in third-round rookie Jalen Tolbert right into a huge role as though that’s possible for most third-round rookies. Reality has hit during Tolbert’s understandable good and the bad in camp and the preseason. (A mental error cost him a touchdown Saturday) Dallas’ additional options for snaps beyond CeeDee Lamb are … Noah Brown and Simi Fehoko? This is actually the week the Cowboys should generate a veteran receiver, but they are too stubborn up to now.
56) Packers fourth-round rookie sensation Romeo Doubs includes a little young T.O. in him for the reason that every game (and practice apparently) includes outrageous catches and multiple killer drops. I really like how Doubs responded to Aaron Rodgers calling out his receivers for drops confidently.
“It’s no big deal,” Doubs said via The Athletic. “I understand I could catch the football. I understand I’m confident enough with the hands that I’ve.”
57) Rookie speedster Tyquan Thornton was mostly of the pleasant surprises of Patriots camp until he hurt his collarbone Friday night, as first reported by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. The surprise second-round pick had earned a large role and had something (speed!) all of those other offense lacks. NFL Network’s Mike Giardi said Thornton could return in eight weeks.
58) The Panthers quit a fourth-round pick and their 2023 third-rounder to draft quarterback Matt Corral, who suffered a season-ending foot injury in the team’s second preseason game. It’s worth wondering if another Panthers regime will now be missing that pick while inheriting a quarterback they didn’t select. Corral landed in a brutal spot. He barely got any snaps in training camp because the Panthers experienced with the Baker Mayfield–Sam Darnold competition charade — a battle Mayfield not surprisingly won.
“Garrett offers elite body control and hands. He’s a dude which has freakish route-running ability, what he is able to do along with his body when attempting to shake (corners). What he’s surely got to do is he’s gotta get stronger and recognize that all that just work at the type of scrimmage, you do not have so enough time,” Saleh said. “So he’s gotta move faster. But love his mindset … he’ll be considered a good one, for certain.”
Suppose: A coach giving an incisive scouting report for their own player!
60) Malik Willis has already established the best rookie quarterback preseason. The flashes are mouthwatering. The struggles to perform the Titans’ offense consistently are real. I love just how much the Titans are playing him. Willis is actually hearing his coaches about not leaving the pocket. About his touchdown throw, Willis told reporters, “I finally stood within for once.“
Logan Woodside has thrown three interceptions in limited work and can probably ensure it is through waivers to be continued the practice squad. If the Titans were truly uncomfortable with Willis because the team’s backup to Ryan Tannehill, Woodside wouldn’t function as guy to help keep before Willis.
61) At the chance of overhyping Kyle Philips, the Titans’ rookie slot receiver looked the spend the a nice sideline grab and fantastic punt return. Once more, he left the overall game prior to first-rounder Treylon Burks. Each rookie wideout only had one reception in a casino game the Titans struggled to accomplish much offensively.
62) The Dolphins’ fourth-round rookie Erik Ezukanma had a monstrous game contrary to the Raiders (six catches, 114 yards) and is shaping around be Miami’s fourth receiver. He’s taking Preston Williams‘ spot as a downfield threat that may win with physicality. Williams, Mo Sanu and perhaps Lynn Bowden are interesting names on the bubble in Miami, too.
63) It is a positive that Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth‘s ankle injury suffered Saturday night doesn’t seem to be serious. It’s less of a confident that the second-round pick was on the market using deep reserves, and that this injury was a recurrence of a previous known issue, in accordance with coach Kevin O’Connell.
64) Bengals fourth-rounder Cordell Volson may have taken the starting job at left guard from last year’s second-round pick, Jackson Carman. The Bengals need what’s promising at risk, with La’el Collins still failing woefully to take team reps at right tackle. Asked about all of the shuffling in advance, Zac Taylor depressingly said he’s “handled it for four years, so it is nothing new.”
65) The Seahawks are on the right track to start out two rookie tackles, with third-round pick Abe Lucas impressing in the preseason opener. No. 9 overall pick Charles Cross had five penalties at left tackle in Seattle’s second preseason game, that is significantly less than ideal. Pass rusher Boye Mafe has flashed in the preseason, and the Seahawks also like their rookie corners Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen; Carroll’s team could find yourself leading the league in rookie snaps.
Woolen, the 6-foot-4 product who ran a 4.26-second 40-yard dash, was lining up as a starter once the Seahawks began to plan their third preseason game. I understand you can find injuries before him on the depth chart, but his rise gets serious.
66) Rookie Giants edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux will miss 3 to 4 weeks after suffering a sprained MCL on Sunday. While that’s much better than any worst-case scenario for the No. 5 overall pick, the injury raises more questions in regards to a talent-poor Giants defense. Coordinator Don Wink Martindale is really as blitz-mad as ever, predicated on practice reports and the preseason, but that approach might not work without quality cornerbacks to carry up in the trunk end.
67) Bills rookie Khalil Shakir has looked so excellent that I wonder if the team is considering going even younger at the wide receiver position. If Shakir can fill the No. 4 role and become a backup to Isaiah McKenzie, the Bills might see if anyone would quit a draft pick for veteran Jamison Crowder.
68) Something odd is being conducted with Patriots wideout Kendrick Bourne. He didn’t take part in the team’s second preseason game after being kicked out of practice Tuesday and using the team’s backups on Wednesday. Bill Belichick just curtly said Bourne “wasn’t available.” Bourne had 800 yards and five scores this past year, inspiring some belief he’d crank it up in Year 2 with the Pats. Instead he’s barely been targeted by Mac Jones in camp. Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker appear to be the safest picks for big roles. Or even for Tyquan Thornton’s injury, Bourne trade chatter would seem sensible this week. Considering it’s Belichick, I still wouldn’t eliminate anything.
69) The Dolphins kept Mike Gesicki with the franchise tag this season and can pay him $10.9 million, but he is actually a square peg in a round hole in Mike McDaniel’s offense. Gesicki has spent the offseason learning how exactly to block and contains reportedly seen few targets used. On Saturday night, fellow tight end Durham Smythe left the overall game, while Gesicki continued to play with backups.
I wonder if the Dolphins would consider trading Gesicki either now or through the season if he’s not likely to have a large role. He showed he is able to be considered a dynamic slot receiver, even though he’s not just a easily fit into this offense.
70) The other day in this space, I noted the way the Browns could afford to deal running back Kareem Hunt because of the deep backfield should they found a taker. The comedy duo Bo Wulf and Zach Berman of The Athletic noted Friday that Eagles coach Nick Sirianni introduced himself to Hunt at joint practices in exactly the same week that Miles Sanders hurt his hamstring. Another route will be attempting to trade an extra Eagles receiver for D’Ernest Johnson. It wasn’t such a long time ago the Browns were deep at wideout and the Eagles were scrambling for options, however the analytical tables have turned.
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