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Preseason NFL Week 1 Takeaways: Kenny Pickett Makes Case as Steelers’ Starting QB

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    Justin Berl/Getty Images

    Who doesn’t such as this sort of party?

    Football is football, and the NFL is back with a complete slate of Preseason Week 1 games. Half the league was doing his thing Saturday.

    As may be the case during glorified exhibition games, a lot of projected starters never took the field. But a few exceptions are available. Furthermore, the reps that rookies and players lower on the depth chart receive are invaluable because they arrived at understand NFL speed and what must be done to produce a roster.

    Quarterback competitions continued on the list of Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks. Of the three, some clarity are available with the initial and second, as the Seahawks simply don’t look sufficient to compete on offense.

    Exactly the same can not be said in the Washington Commanders’ backfield in which a change at running back could possibly be forthcoming.

    The Indianapolis Colts tried different things, too, and the program didn’t go as planned.

    Saturday’s action drew a lot of attention with the next stories being probably the most noteworthy.

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    AP Photo/Barry Reeger

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have exactly zero explanations why Kenny Pickett must not be pushed up the depth chart and announced because the team’s starting quarterback in a few days.

    Let’s consider the facts.

    1. Pittsburgh made Pickett the best drafted quarterback in this year’s class.

    2. Pickett was the only real quarterback prospect to listen to his name called in the initial or second rounds.

    3. Last season’s Heisman Trophy finalist turned 24 prior to the start of regular season.

    4. Pickett showed improvement throughout training camp following a slow start.

    5. Upon taking an NFL field for the very first time, the Pitt product completed 13 of 15 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns, like the game-winning toss with only three seconds remaining.

    On the final point, the first-year signal-caller stood tall in the pocket with oncoming pressure but still completed the out pattern despite getting hit. Even though the bond to Tyler Vaughns doesn’t get a touchdown, the quarterback found the proper read, completed the pass and placed his team in field goal position.

    The writing is on the wall.

    Pickett is Pittsburgh’s franchise quarterback and really should be treated therefore, not unceremoniously forced to are the third-string quarterback because of outdated modes of preparing young players.

    Mitchell Trubisky played well, too. As did Mason Rudolph. The Seattle Seahawks defense stunk Saturday night. Altogether, the three quarterbacks completed 70.3 percent of these passes with a 4-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

    But Pickett was chosen for grounds. He’s the near future. He must also function as present. Or even, something went terribly wrong in Pittsburgh.

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Before the start of Saturday’s ending up in the Washington Commanders, the Carolina Panthers announced Baker Mayfield would start the contest.

    Typically, preseason rotations ought to be taken with a grain of salt. Regarding a quarterback competition, those ready to start against a first-team defense is normally indicative of who the team really wants to lead its offense.

    That isn’t always the case, needless to say. Young quarterbacks tend to be tasked to “earn” their spot, even though they’re a first-round pick. In this situation, Mayfield and Sam Darnold continue steadily to compete following the Panthers acquired the former per month ago.

    Mayfield obtaining the nod shows he’s already needs to overcome the disadvantage of a late acquisition while learning a fresh offense, unlike Darnold, who’s been with the team for over per year now.

    BECAUSE THE Athletic’s Joseph Person noted, Mayfield “has thrown the ball with an increase of authority days gone by fourteen days and made more splash plays than Darnold.”

    Through the contest, nothing occurred to trust Darnold should once more take the reins. Mayfield completed four of his seven pass attempts and lead the offense into field goal position. A fumbled snap and miscommunication on a third-down pass point toward his continued learning curve. But Darnold didn’t do a lot more.

    Yes, Carolina scored a touchdown on Darnold’s first series. The quarterback threw a good touch pass to Rashard Higgins while facing down pressure. However the entire unit benefitted from the short field after an Antonio Gibson fumble. As the quarterback’s first series lasted only three plays, he returned to the field where in fact the offense went three-and-out.

    Unsurprisingly, head coach Matt Rhule didn’t invest in Mayfield as his starter following the contest.

    “No, that has been for today, that has been simply for today,” Rhule told reporters following the game. “So we’ll return back and look as of this tape. Obviously, Sam got us ultimately zone. Baker led us down the field. Appeared as if both guys played well with regards to production. We’ll return back and see where they’re. That was simply for today.”

    If the Panthers believe Mayfield may be the guy, as their Saturday decision indicates, he should get all the first-team reps continue so he is able to be fully prepared for the standard season.

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Antonio Gibson might not be the Washington Commanders’ starting running back for long.

    Gibson opened Saturday’s contest contrary to the Carolina Panthers as Washington’s lead back. Two carries in two series might have been all head coach Ron Rivera had a need to see following the third-year ball-carrier coughed up a fumble.

    Third-round rookie Brian Robinson Jr. entered the overall game through the next series. Maybe Washington’s coaching staff planned the rotation. But a couple of things happened following the fact.

    First, the 225-pound Robinson looked good in a featured role. He slammed the ball between your tackles and became an all natural receiver out from the backfield. This year’s 98th overall pick ran the ball six times for 26 yards and a score, while snagging a couple of catches for 15 yards. Maybe Robinson is a lot more than only a change-of-pace back this lightning-and-thunder combo.

    “I thought Brian Robinson showed why we drafted him today,” head coach Ron Rivera told reporters following the 23-21 loss.

    Second, Gibson returned to the field with Washington’s second-string offense. He carried the ball twice more and managed two yards on four total carries.

    Everyone situation includes the disclaimer that it is preseason and the ones beyond your organization shouldn’t overreact. Of note, Gibson led all NFL running backs with six lost fumbles. A note appears to have been sent.

    Either Gibson rectifies his fumble-itis, or the Commanders opt for another capable option as their lead back.

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    Running back Marlon Mack opened the Houston Texan’s first preseason game because the team’s starter. Don’t expect that to last.

    Mack is 26 with a 1,000-yard campaign already under his belt. That’s all well and good, however the Texans may actually have a something special in fourth-round rookie Dameon Pierce.

    As longtime Houston sports journalist John McClain noted, “rookie Dameon Pierce has been and is still the very best running back on the team.”

    The 5’10”, 218-pound bowling ball sure appeared as if it during Saturday’s contest contrary to the New Orleans. Pierce runs downhill after making crisp cuts and finishes runs. He’s not likely to be arm-tackled, that’s for several.

    “In the event that you in his way, he’ll run you over,” fellow Texans rookie Jalen Pitre told reporters Wednesday.

    Because of this, Pierce accumulated multiple chunk plays during his first preseason action. The rookie quickly amassed 49 yards on his first five carries. He looked unique of everybody else on the Texans’ offense due to his explosive capabilities.

    The rookie’s emergence could be vital in the Texans’ overall organizational development.

    If/when Pierce gets control because the team’s lead back, he is able to become the center point, thus taking pressure off second-year signal-caller Davis Mills. Conversely, Mills can develop a symbiotic relationship along with his running game and gain more confidence with each passing week.

    The Texans could realistically have their long-term backfield already set up.

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    AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes

    Since Frank Reich became the top coach of the Indianapolis Colts, his teams struggled in the beginning of the regular season.

    In 2018, Indianapolis put itself in a 1-5 hole. The Colts were better the next year at 3-2. Last season, the group started with a 1-4 record. Actually, Reich’s team has yet to win weekly 1 contest under his supervision.

    Some changes to practices and the preseason have already been put on change the pattern. Among those is playing the team’s starters in Week 1 of preseason a lot longer than others franchise.

    “There is nothing like escaping . there and playing live football,” Reich told reporters the other day. “There’s just nothing beats it. It’s what’s so excellent concerning this game. It certainly takes guys to some other level. I believe it’s best for everybody to obtain on the market and play.”

    Veteran quarterback Matt Ryan and Co. played in to the second quarter, and neither side of the ball looked good doing this.

    Ryan showed accuracy and willingness to take what the Buffalo Bills gave him. The offense managed 62 total yards and three points making use of their newly minted franchise signal-caller on the field. Defensively, the Bills’ backups gashed the Gus Bradley’s unit. Apart from four first-half turnovers, Case Keenum and Buffalo’s second stringers moved the ball relatively well.

    Obviously, the turnovers must not be overlooked. But they’re not just a reliable predictor for future performance. The Colts staff ought to be agitated by the actual fact their top defenders weren’t consistently winning one-on-one matchups, as the offense didn’t establish any rhythm.

    The one thing truly valuable about Saturday’s performance is Reich and his coaches will have more film to judge and correct the mistakes when compared to a team typically would following its first preseason contest.

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    Justin Berl/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Steelers history of drafting wide receivers outside the first round is impeccable.

    Does the team always hit on those particular selections? Needless to say not. However the organization proved again and again that it could pluck another target just a little later along the way only to keep these things become elite targets.

    George Pickens is apparently next in line. The Steelers used this year’s 52nd overall draft pick to choose the 6’3″, 195-pound target.

    Pickens appeared as if a surefire first-round selection until he tore an ACL during Georgia’s spring practice last season. He barely played through the Bulldogs’ national championship run, which caused his draft stock to have a hit. The receiver’s natural skills have always evident, though.

    Now a complete year removed for a significant knee injury, Pickens once more looks like at the very top talent and it’s really showed up each day in training camp.

    “Pickens is a star,” The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly wrote. “… He is able to do a lot more than run deep. His hands are good, his speed is good, his capability to contort his body is good. Honestly, Ive never seen a rookie this good this early. Everybody knows he’s got to transfer that to preseason games, but I’d be shocked if he didnt. “

    Well, that ability transferred.

    Contrary to the Seattle Seahawks’ couple of rookie cornerbacksCoby Bryant and Tariq WoolenPickens didn’t have any trouble becoming an available target after he beat both in coverage. The 21-year-old wide receiver caught three passes for 43 yards, including a magnificent 26-yard toe-tap touchdown in the corner of the finish zone.

    Obviously, Diontae Johnson just signed a two-year extension worth $18.4 million annually and Chase Claypool can be an immensely gifted receiver unto their own right. Yet Pickens is apparently a genuine X-receiver and a normal top target.

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