Week 2 of the NFL preseason is in the books. We take a look at some notable performances from the week’s action.
The fact that many believed Smith would never play a down in the NFL — due to a gruesome knee injury suffered in his final collegiate game — is enough to place Smith at the top of this list. He registered 1 tackle in his first football game in over 500 days, and it was worthy of every ounce of energy he gained from it.
Jameis Winston / Doug Martin
The Tampa offense is poised for big things in 2017, and it will spearheaded by Winston and Martin. The former showed he is ready to take the next step as a quarterback and leader, while the latter demonstrated that he is completely healthy and ready to return to his “Muscle Hamster” ways.
Philly Front Seven
Registering 6 sacks and 13 quarterback hits will get you noticed…even in preseason. Jim Schwartz front seven, led by Brandon Graham, was all over the Buffalo backfield. If they can carry that kind of pressure into the regular season, it could be a promising season in Philadelphia.
Rookie Running Backs
This year’s crop of rookie backs was impressive in week 2. Christian McCaffrey (Carolina), Joe Mixon (Cincinnati), Chris Carson (Seattle), Tarik Cohen (Chicago), James Conner (Pittsburgh), Dalvin Cook (Minnesota), Kareem Hunt (Kansas City) and Jamal Williams (Green Bay) each showed immense promise while playing the bulk of their snaps with and against first team.
New Weapons In Seattle
The aforementioned Carson was a well-rounded machine out of the backfield for the Seahawks. He’s going to take some carries away from veterans Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy and C.J. Prosise. Meanwhile, third-year wide receiver Kasen Williams has been downright dominant in the first 2 weeks of preseason…this coming after a very impressive training camp. Keep your eyes on these two young players in Seattle.
Jared Goff & The Rams Offense
Not sure if it deserves all the credit, but the arrival of Sammy Watkins is huge for Goff and company. The field was more open and Goff was able to spread the ball around. Rookie WR Cooper Kupp has emerged as Goff’s favorite target, while Todd Gurley actually had room to roam beyond the line of scrimmage.
The Honey Badger
Tyronn Mathieu produced the play of the game with an instinctive pick off Bears QB Mike Glennon at the Arizona five-yard-line, bringing it back 47 yards. After a down 2016, returning from a knee injury, Honey Badger has shown repeatedly this preseason that he is back to being the fast, instinctive, explosive playmaker to which we’ve become accustomed.
Roberto Aguayo & Nick Folk
Aguayo, the 2016 second-round pick, was cut by the Buccaneers last week and claimed on waivers by Chicago. With that, the Bucs made the decision to roll with Folk. So, all worked out well, right? NOPE!!! Folk had an extra-point blocked and later missed a 47-yard field goal. Aguayo, armed with a fresh start in his shiny, new Bears’ uniform, knuckleballed his first kick, a 49-yard attempt. Oh, kickers…gotta love ’em!
QB Quartet: Ryan Mallett / Mike Glennon / Blake Bortles / Paxton Lynch
Bad quarterback play is nothing new, but these four gentlemen are taking it to new lows. If Joe Flacco misses any regular season time, there is no way the Ravens can rely on Mallett to be successful. Glennon may have already lost the job to Mitchell Tribusky, as may have Bortles to Chad Henne in Jacksonville. Paxton Lynch has fallen far behind Trevor Siemian in the race for Denver’s starting gig.
The Injury Bug
Like every preseason, there are unfortunate major injuries that take place. Knowing they’re bound to happen doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, however. This week, we saw Bengals’ safety Shawn Williams suffer an ugly elbow dislocation and will miss up to 8 weeks. The Patriots learned the rookie pass rusher Derrick Rivers will miss the season with an ACL tear, as will Seahawks left tackle George Fant. Lastly, and most damaging, Giants recovered Odell Beckham Jr and Brandon Marshall both left Monday night’s game with injuries. All of these injuries will have a daunting effect on the respective team’s early outlook.
The Colts have kind of been playing down the fact that Andrew Luck may not be available for week 1 of the regular season. For their sake, I hope they are right, because backup Scott Tolzien and third-stringer Stephen Morris have been absolutely atrocious.
Cousins’ Contract Year
With Kirk Cousins playing on the franchise tag, he’s hoping to have another big year and cash in for 2018. However, the Washington offense has looked stagnant at best so far this preseason. Cousins was not on the same page with his receivers in week 2 and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
J-E-T-S…Offense Is A M-E-S-S
If Josh McCown is your saving grace on offense, things are pretty bad. McCown didn’t play in week 2, giving Christian Hackenberg the opportunity to go out and stink up the joint. And stink it up he did. If the Jets are lucky and catch a few breaks, they could finish 4th in the Mountain West in 2017.
Panthers’ Pass Rush
Not a major concern, as most teams keep it pretty vanilla during the preseason. But, the Panthers were able to generate almost zero pass rush on Marcus Mariota in week 2. If the Panthers can’t generate pressure with the front four when the games start to count, it could be another long season in Carolina.