NFL preseason takeaways: What we learned from week 2
There’s just one week left of the NFL preseason and three weeks until the regular season starts. Here’s what we learned from Week 2′s games.
Week two of the preseason has already come and gone. We will be in the regular season before you know it. This week, we’ve seen a few starters, but still less than we’ll see next week. Here’s what we learned from each game in the NFL week 2 preseason.
Chicago Bears 27, Seattle Seahawks 11
Bears tight end Cole Kmet showed his potential to have a breakout season for Chicago. Though he only had a few plays, he caught two passes for 31 yards on three targets by Justin fields. Since training camp began, Kmet has been a favorite target for Fields and his ability to break tackles and create space shows why that should continue into the regular season.
Meanwhile, it appears Seattle has a penalty problem - rookie left tackle Charles Cross was responsible for five of the 13 total penalties for the Seahawks.
New England Patriots 20, Carolina Panthers 10
Mac Jones is now in his second year with the Patriots, but he continues to be a work in progress. He started the game with a sack, three incompletions on three attempts, and just three yards gained on two consecutive three-and-outs over the first two drives by New England. But after that, Jones knocked off the dust and looked a lot better. After the 0-3 start, he went 4 of 5 for 61 yards and an 81-yard scoring drive.
For the Panthers, we got a look at first-round, no. 6 overall pick, left tackle Ickey Ekwonu. There wasn’t much to take away from it - he looked like a rookie who needs experience in the NFL, but showed some moments of promise.
Green Bay Packers 20, New Orleans Saints 10
Packers backup QB Jordan Love threw three interceptions against the San Francisco 49ers in week 1, but managed to make some good throws in the pocket against the Saints in week 2. This, despite his o-line failing to relieve the pressure from the Saints defense. He finished 12 of 24 for 113 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers this time, so that’s a definite improvement. For the Saints, they had an impressive showing by their no. 11 overall pick Chris Olave, who somersaulted into the end zone for the Saints’ first and only touchdown with third-string backup QB Ian Book on the field.
Houston Texans 24, Los Angeles Rams 20
It was Houston’s wide receiver Nico Collins who caught the first touchdown pass by Davis Mills to put the Texans on the board. In his second year, it looks like Collins could be getting ready to have a breakout year. The catch was impressive - Rams CB Deion Kendrick was all over him, but he managed to hold onto the ball and keep his feet in bounds despite being tackled in the air and Kendrick getting a hand on the ball. He finished with four receptions for 48 yards and the touchdown.
As for the Rams, it was their cornerback Cobie Durant who shone. He nearly got an interception, achieved two tackles, one for a loss, a quarterback hit, and one sack against the Texans.
Detroit Lions 27, Indianapolis Colts 26
In this close game, the Colts’ defense continued to look polished. They created pressure and edge rusher Dayo Odeyingbo stood out the most. He sacked Lions QB Tim Boyle twice and added three more pressures, making a total of 10 over the first two preseason games. The Lions ended up getting the win. At the last minute of the first half, QB David Blough led a 12-play, 54-yard scoring drive, passing to Tom Kennedy in the endzone. QB Boyle took over in the second half and went 61 yards in seven plays and got them another touchdown, again to Kennedy. The Lions have been working on their two-minute offense during training camp and that seems to be paying off.
Buffalo Bills 42, Denver Broncos 15
Bills receiver Gabriel Davis looks like he’s ready to fill the holes left by Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders. QB Josh Allen threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Davis on the Bills’ first drive of the game. Running back Zack Moss got some playing time against the Broncos and had two touchdowns. The Buffalo offense looked good no matter who they put in, with RB James Cook picking up some yards and QB Case Keenum led three consecutive scoring drives.
The Broncos seem to be lacking significant depth at tight end as Albert Okwuegbunam, who is expected to be a starter for Denver, played the whole game with rookie Greg Dulcich out with a hamstring injury.
Kansas City Chiefs 24, Washington Commanders 14
We were blessed with QB Patrick Mahomes’ presence on the field in week 2 against the Commanders. He completed 12-of-19 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, showing he’s still going to connect no matter who’s in to catch the pass. His two TD passes were to tight end Jody Fortson. No Tyreek Hill, no problem. Linebacker Nick Bolton also showed out. In just two plays, he had three tackles and brokee up a pass play on third down. For the Commanders, rookie RB Brian Robinson had eight rush attempts for 31 yards at the end of the first half compared to Antonio Gibson’s two carries for three yards and three receptions for 37 yards. The battle between the two continues.
San Francisco 49ers 17, Minnesota Vikings 7
49ers DT Javon Kinlaw looks ready to have a breakout season in his second year. He had a sack on Vikings QB Kellen Mond in the first quarter. Coming off a knee injury last season, Kinlaw looks like a totally different player. If he keeps it up in the regular season, he’ll be a huge help to the Niners.
The Vikings defense saw T.Y. McGill get 1.5 sacks on the Niners, following his two sacks against the Raiders last week. Over the last give years, McGill has just a half-sack, so his preseason showing has been quite momentous for him. Now, he just has to keep that up in the regular season.
Las Vegas Raiders 15, Miami Dolphins 13
The Raiders need another offensive tackle. Rookie Alex Leatherwood struggled against the Dolphins, getting shoved and beaten for a sack on the Raiders QB. Brandon Parker is dealing with an injury he suffered in the Hall of Fame game (though wasn’t looking promising even before that), and Thayer Munford Jr. left a practice last week with an injury and has not returned. That leaves just Jermaine Eluemunor, who’s been a backup OT for most of his five-year career. It’s time for Las Vegas to look for a trade or free agent.
For their part, the Dolphins need to consider adding depth to their cornerback chart. With both their starting CBs out, Noah Igbinoghene was beaten for two first downs and Nick Needham left early with an injury. Trill Williams was injured last week and starting CB Bryan Jones may get off to a slow start coming off a surgery in the offseason. It might be time for the Dolphins to consider adding some depth there.
Tennessee Titans 13, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3
Let’s talk about Malik Willis. In his two preseason games so far, he’s completed 13 of 28 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown. Obviously, he’s not going to be the QB1 with Ryan Tannehill on the Titans roster, but he looked like he could be a useful option on run-pass situations in the red zone. He showed promise as a passer too when he got out of the pocket and free from danger to throw a bullet pass to WR Der Fitzpatrick for 18 yards and then again later with a six-yard TD pass to TE Chigoziem Okonkwo. Tampa Bay’s RB Leonard Fournette is looking as good as ever, rushing for 20 yards on five attempts and two catches for six yards.
Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Jacksonville Jaguars 15
Rookie QB Kenny Pickett got to see some action against the Jaguars, and I have to say, he should be the Steelers’ starter in week 1 of the regular season. Their other QB option, Mitch Trubisky completed 5-of-8 attempts for 60 yards. Pickett came in with six minutes left in the first half and got a touchdown drive on their second possession. In two series, Pickett completed 6-of-7 attempts for 76 yards and the TD. The Steelers’ third option is Mason Rudolph, who played a decent second half for 17-of-21 pass completions for 127 yards and a TC, but made a grave error of intentional grounding, resulting in a safety for the Jaguars. Pickett looked calm and confident when the Jaguars blitzed him and pressure was on.
Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence is now in his second year and improving with every opportunity to play. His accuracy and leadership are already looking better under new leader Doug Pederson.
Dallas Cowboys 32, Los Angeles Chargers 18
Dallas WR KaVontae Turpin showed off his special teams skills, taking the Cowboys to two touchdowns on punt-returns and basically sealed his spot on the 53-man roster. Bursting through the Chargers’ defenders without being touched on a 98-yard TD return and then doing it again on an 86-yard TD return, Turpin showcased his speed and ability to make big plays. For the Chargers, 2021 third-round pick WR Josh Palmer is looking ready for a breakout year in Los Angeles, finishing the game against the Cowboys with three receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown.
Philadelphia Eagles 21, Cleveland Browns 20
Eagles WR Devon Allen showed off his speed against the Browns, blowing past two defenders for a 55-yard touchdown. Allen is also an Olympic athlete who specializes in 110-meter hurdles and that brings an interesting facet to Philadelphia. They have five other receivers though, including top four A.J. Brown, DaVonta Smith, Zach Pascal, and Quez Watkins. Could Allen be providing an argument for having six on the roster? As for the Browns, their lack of depth at WR showed in their loss to the Eagles. Rookie David Bell has been a slow work in progress due to injuries, but led the team with 46 receiving yards on three catches on his first play with the team. The other WR options behind Amari Cooper are Donovan Peoples-Jones and Antony Schwartz, who both need work.
New York Giants 25, Cincinnati Bengals 22
There was a big scare when the Giants’ fifth overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux went down with a knee injury. Bengals tight end Thaddeus Moss cut Thibodeaux, who wasn’t low enough to take the block, which bent his leg the wrong way. He was able to walk off the field after lying there for a while, giving a big scare to the Giants.
They seemed to have dodged a potentially very serious injury to their first-round draft pick. The preseason isn’t worth losing valuable starters, and I doubt we’ll see Thibodeaux out there again before the start of the regular season. The Bengals showed off their 31st overall pick, safety Daxton Hill. Hill had two defensive stops in the Bengals’ first two offensive drives. He picked up an interception and managed to get into Giants territory after the pick.
Baltimore Ravens 24, Arizona Cardinals 17
Ravens rookie tight end Isaiah Likely is shaping up to be a weapon for Baltimore on offense. The Ravens chose Likely in the fourth round and in his six quarters in the preseason so far, he’s caught 12 passes on 12 targets for 144 yards and a touchdown with an average of 5.7 yards after contact per reception. Likely could be exactly what Baltimore has been missing in the pass game. Cardinals RB Jonathan Ward made a few big plays looking for the RB spot behind James Conner, though he left with a shoulder injury mid-game. He continues to compete with Eno Benjamin and Darrel Williams now that Chase Edmonds is with the Dolphins.
The New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons play tonight at 8 p.m. ET at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.