For me, it's all about the best player available (BPA) that fills a need for your team. The only exception is QB because the NFL is a QB driven league and you need one to win it all. There are a few exceptions like when you have a dominating defense like Denver did.
I have no fantasy football notes for this game. There was no Steven Jackson. No Adrian Peterson. No Sidney Rice. No Percy Harvin. And of course, no Brett Favre.
With the big-name stars out, the storyline regarding this contest was the play of rookie Sam Bradford and talented Vikings backup Sage Rosenfels.
Bradford was 6-of-13 for 57 yards. That's not the best stat line in the world, but I thought Bradford played pretty well. When he had time in the pocket, he was able to fire extremely accurate passes to his targets. Granted, it was against Minnesota's second-string defense, but Bradford seemed like the real deal.
Unfortunately, Bradford seldom had ample pass protection. He was under siege on about 75 percent of his drop-backs. Last year's No. 2 overall pick Jason Smith, by the way, really embarrassed himself. He couldn't keep anyone out of the backfield.
Rosenfels has drawn some acclaim for going 23-of-34 for 310 yards and three touchdowns in what was a showcase game for him. Those are great numbers, but I don't feel like Rosenfels played up to them. He didn't perform poorly or anything, but I thought he was just above average early on. Rosenfels really carved up St. Louis' scrubs in the second and third quarters, which explains his yardage total. Still, Buffalo should really consider trading for him because he's a billion times better than the crap they have.
A few other notes:
Tarvaris Jackson played one drive, going 2-of-4 for 11 yards. His two incompletions were excused; one was a drop, while the other was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
A.J. Feeley started for the Rams. He went 3-of-6 for 19 yards, but it could have been a lot worse because two Minnesota safeties dropped easy pick-sixes.
Vikings rookie corner Chris Cook had a great game. I was really impressed.
Chargers 25, Bears 10
We won't really know how well the Chargers will function without Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson until the regular season, but so far so good. Philip Rivers was 4-of-6 for 62 yards and a touchdown in the preseason opener.
Here were Rivers' targets:
Buster Davis: 1
Antonio Gates: 1
Ryan Mathews: 1
Legedu Naanee: 3
The name that stands out among Philip Rivers' targets is Legedu Naanee, who saw half of Rivers' attempts go his way. Naanee turned his three targets into one catch that happened to be a 28-yard touchdown. He also had a 6-yard completion that was wiped out by a penalty. With Vincent Jackson likely to hold out the entire year, Naanee is suddenly a viable option as a WR3.
Ryan Mathews had a very impressive preseason debut. He ran for 50 yards on nine carries, and also chipped in with two receptions for 11 yards. Mathews ran with a great mix of power and quickness, and his catches indicate that he's going to be part of the passing game.
Chicago's first-team offense played only one drive in the preseason opener. In fact, Jay Cutler attempted just two passes, both of which went to Johnny Knox. Knox's two receptions transformed for 47 yards. He has clearly emerged as Cutler's No. 1 receiver, and should be targeted in the seventh round of all leagues.
It has to be noted that Cutler was sacked and belted hard on the next play of his only drive. It's a reminder that while Mike Martz's offense will generate impressive statistics, it'll also force Cutler to take tons of shots. It wouldn't be surprising to see Cutler suffer an injury at some point during the season.
Matt Forte started the game and was largely unimpressive, gaining seven yards on four carries. Chester Taylor played against San Diego's second-team defense, but looked quicker. He totaled 10 yards on six carries in addition to a 14-yard reception. On the down side, Taylor fumbled.
Devin Aromashodu led the Bears in both receptions (4) and receiving yardage (78), but all of that came from Caleb Hanie.
49ers 37, Colts 17
There wasn't really any need to take many notes during this game. Peyton Manning looked like Peyton Manning, Alex Smith looked like Alex Smith, and the 49ers were missing Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree, meaning that their scrubs started the game.
Manning played like he was in mid-season form, dissecting the 49ers on two drives; he was 8-of-10 for 91 yards.
Anthony Gonzalez was targeted once, but turned that into an impressive 18-yard gain. Unfortunately, it ended poorly as he fumbled the ball out of bounds. Pierre Garcon and Dallas Clark didn't play.
Joseph Addai received all of the first-team work for the Colts in the preseason opener. He rushed for 11 yards and a touchdown on five carries to go along with a 12-yard reception. Addai really outplayed Donald Brown, who basically just ran in circles. Brown had minus-4 yards on his five attempts.
Pat Angerer was really impressive in his NFL debut. He had eight tackles and two consecutive sacks on David Carr. Of course, everyone sacks Carr, but Angerer looks like he could start sometime soon.
This is a very obvious statement, but if Peyton Manning ever goes down, the Colts will be in deep trouble. Curtis Painter looked like Arena League fodder, going 9-of-19 for 64 yards and three interceptions. As forum member MiamiDolphin4Life said, "Peyton Manning with a broken arm/torn ACL/PCL/MCL on crack would still be better than Curtis Painter."
As mentioned, Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree missed the preseason opener. Still, it doesn't excuse Alex Smith's horrendous performance. Smith was 3-of-9 for 37 yards and an interception. He had Vernon Davis wide open for a 50-yard touchdown, but completely missed him. And to think, the 49ers could have traded for Donovan McNabb...
Gore usually misses 2-4 games every year. Once that happens this season, Anthony Dixon should be able to fill in admirably. Dixon was very solid, running with power for 100 yards and a score on 21 carries.
Steelers 23, Lions 7
If Saturday night was any indication, the first four games of the season are going to be long and brutal for the Steelers.
Byron Leftwich was abysmal, going 6-of-10 for 43 yards. He had an open receiver in the end zone in the second quarter, but missed his target completely. It didn't help him that he was pressured on just about every play by an impressive Detroit defensive front. Overall though, Leftwich looked fat and slow.
Dennis Dixon, on the other hand, really played well. I know he was going against Detroit's scrubs, but he looked more confident than Leftwich, going 6-of-7 for 128 yards and a touchdown. Regardless of how both performed, the important thing is that unlike Leftwich, Dixon can evade the pass rush and scramble for first downs. This is really important for the Steelers because of how terrible their offensive line is. I think Pittsburgh has a better shot of going 2-2 with Dixon than Leftwich. The young guy should be the starter.
The stat line says that Rashard Mendenhall had just two carries for five yards. He should have had more; a big run was negated by a sloppy fumble in which the ball was about a mile away from his body. But overall, Mendenhall is going to have immense trouble running the football in these first four games; the opposing defenses don't have to respect the pass at all.
I was VERY impressed with what I saw from the Lions on Saturday night. Their offense was explosive, and their defensive line put immense pressure on the quarterback on almost every play. Ndamukong Suh commanded double teams, allowing Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril to run freely into the backfield. This may sound crazy, but I'm beginning to think that Detroit can win nine games this season.
Matthew Stafford was nearly flawless in the preseason opener, going 8-of-11 for 61 yards, a touchdown and an interception that wasn't his fault. Stafford's three incompletions were two jump balls to Calvin Johnson in the end zone and a pick that bounced out of Jahvid Best's hands.
Here were Stafford's targets on Saturday night:
Jahvid Best: 2
Nate Burleson: 2
Dan Gronkowski: 1
Bryant Johnson: 1
Calvin Johnson: 5 (three in the end zone)
Tony Scheffler: 1
Calvin Johnson led all starters with a whopping five targets in the preseason opener, including three in the end zone. He caught two passes for 10 yards and a score, and had a long gain nullified by a pretty pathetic penalty by Jeff Backus. Megatron should be ranked no lower than the No. 3 fantasy receiver this season. If he falls to you in Round 2, don't even think about hesitating.
Jahvid Best was utilized early and often by the Lions in their first exhibition contest. In fact, he carried the ball on the first four plays of the game for Detroit. Best showed unbelievable explosion, generating 29 yards on six carries in addition to a 9-yard reception. I had him as my No. 29 overall player in my PPR rankings going into the weekend, and I'm beginning to think that's a bit too low.
Cardinals 19, Texans 16
This was a pretty depressing game for me. I suffered my first betting loss of the year because the Texans couldn't hold on to a 16-0 lead with eight minutes remaining in regulation. And in the bigger scope of things, one of my top early-summer sleepers, Ben Tate, suffered a broken ankle at Arizona and looks like he'll be out for the year.
Tate's injury was ugly; he rolled around on the ground in agony after his foot was twisted around right after a 12-yard run. Tate had to be helped off and he couldn't put any pressure on his foot. Of course, the Cardinals network cut away to an interview with a ball boy when this happened.
With injury comes opportunity. Ben Tate is probably out for the year, so Arian Foster and Steve Slaton will get the majority of the carries this season. Foster played really well in the exhibition opener, as his first carry went for 21 yards. He finished with 31 yards on four attempts. Slaton, meanwhile, looked pretty decent at times (10 carries, 22 rush yards; 1 catch, 21 rec. yards), but once again fumbled at the goal line. Slaton was not seen after fumbling, which isn't surprising considering how Gary Kubiak operates. Kubiak won't be able to trust Slaton, which means that Foster could be in for a HUGE fantasy campaign.
Matt Schaub was perfect in the preseason opener. He was 5-of-6 for 78 yards and a 44-yard touchdown to Andre Johnson. Schaub's sole incompletion was dropped by tight end Joel Dreessen. Johnson, meanwhile, had three receptions for 59 yards and that score.
The battle for the No. 2 receiving job was a lackluster one; Matt Schaub targeted Kevin Walter once (16-yard catch) and Jacoby Jones zero times. Jones had an end-around for a loss of four yards. He was later targeted often by Dan Orlovsky, but it's not a good thing that he wasn't involved with the first-string offense.
Mario Williams looked great, registering two sacks early on for Houston. The Cardinals simply couldn't keep him out of the backfield.
Matt Leinart did not look very good. He was 6-of-7 for 49 yards, but seldom looked downfield, frequently opting for 5-yard dump-offs. Four of Leinart's completions went for 4, 7, 6 and 2 yards. The worst thing I saw from Leinart though is when he began yelling at everyone during the second drive. He has no passion for the game, and he's obviously a poor leader. Should he even be starting? Keep reading...
Leinart's longest completion went to Larry Fitzgerald for 16 yards. It was the only target Fitzgerald saw all evening, though the stud wideout played on just two drives. Fitzgerald took a shot to the knees after his catch and had to ice them down after the possession came to an end. He's fine, but it was a scary hit for any Fitzgerald owner.
Tim Hightower started the preseason opener for Arizona. In fact, Chris Wells didn't get a touch until the third drive. Wells saw a ton of action (11 carries, 36 yards), but most of that came when the first team was off the field. I'm not nearly as high on Wells as others are; Hightower will be a factor, and Wells won't get nearly as many goal-line opportunities with Matt Leinart under center instead of Kurt Warner. Hightower, meanwhile, had 16 yards on four rushes and a 6-yard catch.
Derek Anderson is very fortunate that no cops were on the field during the game because he surely would have been arrested for drinking and quarterbacking. Anderson fired the ball like a leering dart-playing drunk at a bar, going 13-of-22 for 88 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
The good news for Arizona is that John Skelton looked great. He was 5-of-6 for 84 yards and a touchdown. He had multiple deep throws that were right on the money, and his sole misfire was a high pass for Andre Roberts that displayed unbelievable arm strength. I'd love to see Skelton get a chance as Arizona's starting quarterback once Leinart fails; the Fordham product looks like he's the real deal.
Cardinals rookie linebacker Daryl Washington recorded 13 tackles on Saturday night. Washington didn't start, but he was all over the field in the second half. He's a stud, and it's going to be difficult to keep him out of the lineup.
Seahawks 20, Titans 18
The Seahawks broadcasters opened this telecast discussing all the buzz in Seattle regarding the arrival of Pete Carroll. I have to wonder though - is Carroll even coaching? After all, Julius Jones and Deion Branch started this contest for the Seahawks. This resembled Jim Mora Jr.'s old cunning "use crappy veterans over skilled young players" strategy.
I'm beginning to think that Pete Carroll is just a doppelganger; the person on the Seattle sidelines is really Mora wearing a Pete Carroll costume. Hey, I might sound like a crazed conspiracy theorist right now, but Mora is a conniving jerk, so you can't rule anything out.
Seattle's first-team offense predictably struggled. Glue-factory quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was just 4-of-10 for 26 yards. Hasselbeck tried to force it to Deion Branch early, and Branch was able to come up with two catches for 14 yards.
It was depressing to see Julius Jones start the preseason opener. Jones had a couple of nice runs, but was pretty mediocre overall. He gained 13 yards on five carries and also dropped a pass. Justin Forsett, playing exclusively with the second team, gained 17 rushing yards on seven attempts to go along with a 30-yard reception. Forsett should see much more action than Jones, but Seattle head coaches clearly don't understand simple logic.
Charlie Whitehurst entered the game on the fourth drive. I thought he was very impressive. I know he was playing against Tennessee's scrubs and his 51-yard touchdown to Mike Williams was pretty bogus (more on that later), but Whitehurst was in complete command of Seattle's offense and he fired a bunch of crisp downfield passes that were right on the money.
Whitehurst finished 14-of-22 for 214 yards, two touchdowns and an ugly interception. He needs to be Seattle's starter right now.
Like Branch, T.J. Houshmandzadeh came up with two receptions (for 12 yards). Houshmandzadeh is a big injury risk this year because he's coming off sports hernia surgery. Oh, and he also sucks, so you might want to stay away from him in your fantasy draft.
You could look at the stats and see that Mike Williams had a 51-yard touchdown. That happened because Titans corner Ryan Mouton completely whiffed on a tackle after Williams caught an intermediate pass near the sideline. Williams predictably did nothing after that. I don't expect him to make the team.
Conversely, Deon Butler had a 36-yard pass from Charlie Whitehurst that was pretty impressive. Unfortunately, Pete Carroll is doing his best Jim Mora Jr. impression, so it doesn't look like Butler will play much for now.
Golden Tate saw three targets go his way. He caught two passes for five yards, but dropped the other. Tate will spend time in the slot until the sloth-like Houshmandzadeh and Branch are finally benched/injured.
There isn't much to say about the Titans because their first-string offense played only two drives. Vince Young was great on the first series (4-of-4, 70 yards), but fired his trademark awful pass per quarter on the next possession, lofting an interception right into the arms of Josh Wilson. Afterward, Young got into a fight with some Seahawk players, which probably resembled his brawl with the strip club patrons earlier this offseason.
Chris Johnson had seven yards on five carries, but three of those attempts came from inside the 1-yard line, which would explain his low YPC average. Johnson was stuffed on the first two plays, but finally entered the end zone on third down.
Javon Ringer saw most of the action after Chris Johnson left the game. Ringer had 60 yards on seven carries, including a 46-yard burst. If you're into picking handcuffs, you'll want to draft Ringer; Johnson is very injury-prone this season after handling all of those touches in 2009.
You really have to feel for Stafon Johnson. Johnson had a 17-yard gain in the second half of this contest, but had to be carted off later on with what appeared to be a serious leg injury. This guy just can't catch a break.
Check out this quote from Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons: "I never put pressure on myself because if you do, you'll never live up to it." Wow. I'm definitely not hiring this guy as a motivational speaker.
Dolphins 10, Buccaneers 7
I love watching Miami preseason games. The Dolphins TV broadcasters are so ridiculously stupid and homerish that it makes the viewing experience extremely enjoyable.
The lead-in into the game went something like this, "NEW PLAYERS!!! NEW LINEBACKERS!!! NEW GUARDS!!!" Really, new guards? Later on, Nat Moore was talking about one of those new linebackers, Karlos Dansby: "He's as fast as a wide receiver and as strong as a linebacker!" Hmm... so a linebacker happens to be just as strong as a linebacker? What a coincidence!
Late in the game, cornerback Nate Ness made a couple of great plays in coverage for Miami. Moore responded, "Nate Ness shut down the Tampa Bay defense!" God, I love these guys.
The Dolphins looked really sloppy on Saturday night. It's hard to completely judge them because there was a torrential downpour and the offense struggled in the mud, but Miami's first-string unit managed just two first downs.
Chad Henne's numbers will indicate he wasn't very good. He was 5-of-11 for 19 yards. However, he suffered three drops amid heavy rain, so I'm not going to downgrade him for fantasy purposes or anything.
One of Henne's drops came from Brian Hartline, who saw two targets go his way. The other two drops came from Brandon Marshall. Marshall inexcusably failed to catch a single pass. He'll need to be much better next week to keep Dolphins fans from drowning themselves.
Ronnie Brown was the only Dolphin first-string skill player to look good. He rushed for 20 yards on five carries. However, I do have to wonder why he was in the game with a few minutes remaining in the first half. Does Tony Sparano think that Brown isn't injury-prone enough?
Mike Nolan put together a pretty vanilla game plan for the Dolphins, but one defender who really shined was nose tackle Paul Soliai. He literally was unblockable.
I don't think I've typed this sentence in a very long time, but Tampa Bay's offense looked great. Josh Freeman was perfect in the preseason opener, hitting all four of his passes for 53 yards and a touchdown to Sammie Stroughter. He also looked good when scrambling out of the pocket. Freeman is a million miles ahead of where he was last year.
All the talk this offseason regarding the Bucs has been about rookie receiver Mike Williams. The Syracuse product didn't disappoint in the exhibition opener, catching a 30-yard bomb from Josh Freeman. I love Williams as a late-round flier with a ton of upside.
Stroughter started the preseason opener, and was targeted more times by Josh Freeman (2) than anyone else. Stroughter caught both balls, one of which was a touchdown. Stroughter probably shouldn't be drafted, but he could turn out to be a nice bye-week filler in PPR leagues.
As someone wrote on GameCenter: "catilac is back!" It's true - Cadillac Williams is back to his old self. He rushed for 21 yards on four carries in the exhibition opener, looking much more spry than backup Derrick Ward. Cadillac, who is actually healthy for a change, is a solid RB3 this fantasy season. He's going too low in most fantasy drafts.
Falcons 20, Chiefs 10
One of Brian Baldinger's keys to the game was for Atlanta's offense to start quickly. He reasoned they could do this because they were so familiar with each other. Baldinger was right on the money, as the Falcons took their opening possession down to the 10-yard line, which concluded with a field goal following a weird outside pitch to Jason Snelling.
Michael Turner ran through massive holes for 29 yards on four carries in the preseason opener. He touched the ball on the first four plays of the game: runs of 7 and 9 yards, a catch for 6 yards, and another rush for 10 yards. The reception is most significant; if Turner can become a bigger part of the passing game and catch about 15-20 balls or so, he could easily finish as a top-three fantasy running back.
The other fantasy stud, Roddy White, struggled a bit against the Chiefs. He caught a pass for 22 yards, but dropped two routine catches. This is not much of a concern.
The Falcons ran the ball a lot when their first-team offense was on the field, so Matt Ryan had just six pass attempts. He was 3-of-6 for 34 yards, but as indicated earlier, Ryan was robbed of two possible Roddy White receptions. Overall, Ryan looked very solid and comfortable.
Atlanta was able to generate good pressure in this game, especially from defensive end Kroy Biermann. Biermann had two tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, and was able to harass Matt Cassel on what seemed like every play.
Football can sometimes be a simple game. If you can't block the other team, you're not going to score much. If you get pushed around on defense, the other team is probably going to move the chains with ease. The Chiefs can't block on offense, and they're easily bullied on the other side of the ball. I already talked about Atlanta opening up massive holes for Turner. Matt Cassel, meanwhile, was frequently pressured. He took two sacks on four drives, and the Falcons pass rush forced him to make some errant throws.
Cassel was his usual mediocre self, going 6-of-8, but for only 25 yards. The Chiefs won't be able to score consistently as long as he's under center.
Kansas City's offensive line couldn't do anything for Thomas Jones either. Jones had two yards on two carries before leaving the game with a minor stinger.
While the Chiefs struggled to open up any holes for the decrepit Thomas Jones, Jamaal Charles was much more successful in the preseason opener. Charles carried the ball only four times, but was able to total 37 rushing yards. It's clear to 99.99999 percent of the universe that Charles is the superior Kansas City running back. Unfortunately, the 0.00001 is the man who matters most in this situation. Todd Haley has to be insane if he thinks Jones gives him a better chance of winning. If he paid attention to this game, Charles will become the starter going forward.
Dexter McCluster got the carries once Jamaal Charles left the game. He rushed for 25 yards on five attempts, and also led the team with receptions (3) for 23 more yards. The one negative was a dropped pass.
Dwayne Bowe played, but didn't catch a single pass. In fact, he wasn't even targeted. Matt Cassel simply didn't have enough time in the pocket to look for Bowe downfield.
Credit Wraith for noticing this GameCenter gem: " 1-10-KC 7 (14:19) A.Smith right end to KC 16 for -9 yards." Hmm... somehow, the math just doesn't add up.
Eagles 28, Jaguars 27
Think it was a coincidence that Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb took the field at the same exact time on Friday night? OK, maybe it was - but it was still pretty cool.
Kevin Kolb didn't show any jitters early on during the preseason opener, firing a 26-yard dart to DeSean Jackson on his first attempt. On the next series of downs, Kolb scrambled for a first down. Toward the end of the drive, he tossed a perfect throw into Brent Celek's arms, but the tight end couldn't come up with the touchdown catch. Kolb went 6-of-11 for 95 yards. He had a couple of poor passes, but as mentioned, he could have had a score added to his stat line. Eagles fans should be very encouraged by what they saw on Friday night.
Here's a list of Kolb's targets:
Jason Avant: 2
Brent Celek: 4
DeSean Jackson: 2
Jeremy Maclin: 4
Jeremy Maclin had two catches for 32 yards in the preseason opener, but was targeted more than any wide receiver by Kevin Kolb. Maclin also saw a pass go his way in the end zone, but Jaguars free safety Reggie Nelson tipped it away. Maclin looks like he's going to have a huge sophomore campaign.
Brent Celek hauled in two receptions for 18 yards. He was targeted four times, including once in the end zone. He dropped that touchdown, but it's nice to see that Kolb is looking for his BFF so often.
DeSean Jackson looked great in the preseason opener, catching both of his targets for 47 yards. He also had a 17-yard end-around.
LeSean McCoy was heavily involved on offense against the Jaguars, totaling 30 yards on eight carries. Kevin Kolb didn't target him, but you better believe that McCoy will get a ton of receptions this season. As indicated by the coaching staff this offseason, McCoy has heavily progressed in Philadelphia's offense.
Aside from a drop over the middle, rookie receiver Riley Cooper looked great. He played exclusively with the second string, but came up with three receptions for 61 yards, including a 46-yard bomb from Philadelphia's most famous dog drowner. More impressively, Cooper gave us an awesome impression of Tim Riggins in a sideline interview at the end of the game. It's almost scary how much Cooper looks and sounds like the Friday Night Lights fullback/town drunk.
I loved what I saw out of rookie quarterback Mike Kafka. He went 3-of-7, but for 76 yards. He also drew a long pass interference penalty and suffered a drop on a nicely thrown deep bomb. Kafka nearly gave me a heart attack by almost covering the spread at the very end. Kafka didn't look like a rookie; it seemed like he really knew what he was doing out there.
The Jaguars came out looking pretty sluggish at Philadelphia, which shouldn't surprise you if you're familiar with Jack Del Rio's abysmal work ethic. David Garrard epitomized the malaise; he went 5-of-10 for 35 yards. Maybe it's just me, but he looked like he was bored. On all but a couple of his passes, he didn't even look downfield; instead, he contently dumped the ball off three yards downfield.
Based on what I saw Friday night, Garrard should not be Jacksonville's starting quarterback. It should be Luke McCown, who went 11-of-15 for 244 yards and three touchdowns. I know what you're thinking - McCown did all of that against Philadelphia's backups. That's true, but McCown nevertheless was very impressive. His second score was a perfect dart to some scrub, and his deep balls were right on the money. I'd love to see McCown displace the lethargic Garrard.
Mike Sims-Walker had just one catch for two yards, but was targeted four times. Sims-Walker unfortunately left the game with a shoulder injury, but Del Rio says his No. 1 receiver will be OK.
Mike Thomas started across from Sims-Walker. He was targeted only once, as David Garrard was content with dumping the ball off to the closest receiver to the line of scrimmage. Thomas came up with a 16-yard reception.
This game was exciting, but the Eagles TV broadcast lacked some luster. That's because Kevin Reilly, last year's play-by-play guy, is no longer in the booth. Reilly gave us some gems like "Maurice Drew-Jones" and "Terry Holt" amid outbursts of immense homerism. This year's guy is better, but he still gave us, "What a great left-handed throw by Michael Vick!"
Redskins 42, Bills 17
This was only a preseason game, but don't tell that to Redskins fans. It was the debut of Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb. A slow start would have the Washington faithful groaning about another offseason of overspending leading to another year of underachieving.
Fortunately for the sanity of everyone in the D.C. area, Donovan McNabb was really sharp in the exhibition opener. McNabb was 5-of-8 for 58 yards and a touchdown. He had a few goofy passes - which you know he's prone to if you've ever watching him with the Eagles - but overall, Redskins fans have to be thrilled with their new quarterback.
The Redskins have a brand new offense, so let's take a look at McNabb's targets:
Anthony Armstrong: 2
Chris Cooley: 3
Joey Galloway: 1
Santana Moss: 1
Devin Thomas: third string
Roydell Williams: 2
Anthony Armstrong was the receiver who caught McNabb's touchdown. Armstrong has been a practice squad player throughout his brief career, so don't read too much into that yet. If Armstrong has another strong game next week, I'll place him in my 2010 Fantasy Football Rankings as a possible late-round flier; it's not like Washington has a proven WR2.
Donovan McNabb was most comfortable throwing to Chris Cooley. Cooley caught all three of his targets for 33 yards in the preseason opener.
Clinton Portis started the preseason opener against the Bills. Larry Johnson surprisingly didn't play at all. Ryan Torain saw the most action, totaling 62 yards on 17 carries. Torain looked pretty solid, but he still may be third on the depth chart after this game. Johnson's absence was quite mysterious because he's had a great training camp.
Rookie Brandon Banks took a punt 76 yards to the house in the second half. Banks' return was amazing; he used his 4.2 speed and blew by everyone. He'll be exciting to watch.
The Bills looked really pathetic on Friday night. It's clear that Chan Gailey's master plan on offense is to go: run, short pass, short pass, run, short pass, short pass. Any quarterback can execute that, so it's apparent why Gailey and his front office didn't consider drafting a highly touted signal-caller this past April.
Trent Edwards opened by going 6-of-12 for 58 yards and a really ugly, weak-armed pick. Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced him and went 9-of-14 for a depressing 61 yards and a bogus score.
Both Buffalo quarterbacks were repeatedly ridiculed in our Live In-Games Thread. Here's my favorite quote:
Ckane138: Fitzpatrick's rocket fast release lets him throw it in the dirt with elite velocity.
As if things couldn't get any worse, Fred Jackson suffered hand and ankle injuries after gaining 16 yards on four carries in the preseason opener. Marshawn Lynch entered the lineup, and he too had to leave with an ankle. I don't really care about Lynch, but Jackson is in danger of missing the season opener because of a possible hand fracture, per Gailey.
With Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch injured, C.J. Spiller will have more reps with the first-team offense going forward. Spiller opened things up with an 11-yard gain himself at Washington. Unfortunately, none of his plays stood out after that. Spiller finished with 16 yards on four rushes. He didn't catch a pass.
Buffalo's two touchdowns were scored by rookie running back Joique Bell and tight end David Nelson in the second half. Bell had 52 yards on five attempts, while Nelson caught five balls for 47 yards. Bell won't see much action if Jackson and Marshawn Lynch return to the lineup, but I'd like to see Nelson establish himself as more of a factor with the first team. The only threat Buffalo's receiving corps has is Lee Evans, who had one reception for eight yards.
Raiders 17, Cowboys 9
Jason Campbell's arrival was supposed to spark a new era in Oakland. Instead, the Raiders looked like the same bumbling team that has failed to win more than five games in each season since 2003.
Oakland's starting offense failed to score a single point. Penalties were the culprit; the Raiders were whistled for 11 infractions, three of which occurred on a single drive. The Cowboys TV announcers joked, "The Raiders have gone backward on every play. The only thing left now is a safety."
Dallas' TV guys didn't stop there. Check out this high-comedy quote: "The Raiders always lead the league in penalties. Always. It doesn't matter who the coach is. If you put on the Silver and Black, you're saying, 'Let's go do some stupid stuff out there.'"
Jason Campbell had an up-and-down preseason opener. He was 7-of-13 for 49 yards, though two of those incompletions were accurate bombs to Louis Murphy (one was broken up on a great play by corner Bryan McCann; on the other, Murphy couldn't plant his feet inbounds). Campbell made other really nice throws, but there were also a couple of stinkers in there, including a near pick-six on his first attempt. Overall, I'd give Campbell a B- on his performance.
Here's a list of Campbell's targets on Thursday night:
Michael Bush: 1
Darrius Heyward-Bey: 1
Zach Miller: 4
Louis Murphy: 4
Marcel Reese: 1
Chaz Schilens: OUT
Todd Watkins: 1
Louis Murphy took advantage of Chaz Schilens' absence and saw more targets than any other Oakland wideout in the preseason opener. Murphy came up with only one catch, but two of those targets were deep bombs that were nearly complete.
Darrius Heyward-Bey predictably failed to catch a single pass in Oakland's preseason opener. He was targeted once.
Jason Campbell looked most comfortable throwing to Zach Miller in the 2010 exhibition opener. Miller saw four targets in a quarter-and-a-half, and was able to come up with three receptions for 15 yards.
Michael Bush received all of the early carries with Darren McFadden out. Bush looked great going up against Dallas' impressive front seven, rushing for 31 yards on seven carries. With Al Davis no longer calling the shots, Bush looks like he has the starting running back gig nearly secured.
Tony Romo went 4-of-7 for 52 yards against the Raiders. He looked pretty sharp until the Cowboys reached the red zone, when he started taking multiple sacks because he held on to the ball too long.
Marion Barber once again received the first carry for the Cowboys. He was largely unimpressive, gaining five yards on three carries. Felix Jones wasn't much better, totaling seven yards on two attempts.
Tashard Choice's work (5 carries, 9 yards) came entirely with the second team. The Cowboys TV announcers didn't like this, as one of the guys opined, "He needs more touches, guys!"
Miles Austin-Jones caught both of his targets against the Raiders, collecting 33 yards. Roy Williams, meanwhile, didn't catch either of his two targets. The Cowboys really need Dez Bryant to come back so the sluggish Williams can come off the field.
It was nice to see David Buehler rebound against the Raiders after an awful preseason opener. Buehler connected on all three of his kicks, including a 42-yarder that was right down the pipe.
Hilarious quote from Wade Phillips on Jon Kitna: "We have a gem here. He could start for a lot of teams." Really? Who?
Patriots 27, Saints 24
This matchup of two offensive juggernauts looked anything but early on; the first three drives were all three-and-outs. Making matters worse, the Patriots preseason network inexplicably felt the need to interview nearly every ball boy at the game, which made watching this even more frustrating. Fortunately, things picked up when Tom Brady and Drew Brees commanded their offenses to 93- and 86-yard touchdown drives, respectively.
Tom Brady was really sharp in the preseason opener. He was 5-of-8 for 67 yards on two drives, and one of the incompletions was a tipped pass. Despite not having Wes Welker in the lineup, Brady looked great. He's undervalued this fantasy season because of his injury-plagued 2009 campaign.
It was strange, but BenJarvus Green-Ellis started the preseason opener against the Saints and received all of the early carries. He finished with 34 yards and a touchdown on 11 rushes. However, Laurence Maroney stepped in and was far more impressive, gaining 30 yards and two scores on eight attempts. I wouldn't read too much into Green-Ellis starting; it was probably more of a message Bill Belichick was trying to send to Maroney after all of those fumbles late last year. Still, you shouldn't get too excited; Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris didn't even play, and both figure to see a ton of action over the next two weeks.
Two words to describe Julian Edelman's performance against the Saints in the preseason opener: F***ing awesome. Edelman simply couldn't be tackled. He caught six balls for 90 yards and also chipped in with a 40-yard punt return. Tom Brady and the Patriots are in good hands if Wes Welker can't play.
I was pleased to see Brandon Tate make a spectacular sideline catch in the preseason opener. Tate caught a 20-yard pass and impressively planted his feet inbounds before falling toward the sideline. This was the only instance Tate was targeted, but keep in mind that Brady threw only eight passes.
Rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez didn't catch any passes from Tom Brady, but hauled in three receptions for 26 yards.
I have to say that I was impressed with Brian Hoyer. Hoyer went 8-of-13 for 106 yards, as he really looked like he was comfortable and in control in the pocket. It's a joke that he wasn't drafted last year.
Drew Brees was an economical 9-of-13 for 55 yards against the Patriots. He went three-and-out twice, but looked good on his third drive before leaving the game.
Mixed feelings on Pierre Thomas. Thomas ran for 27 yards on eight carries, and also chipped in with four receptions for 26 more yards. However, I didn't really get why he was still getting touches with less than a minute remaining in the first half. Sean Payton better use him often during the regular season.
Drew Brees has a ton of weapons, so it's worth looking at his targets:
Reggie Bush - 2
Marques Colston - 1
Devery Henderson - 2
Robert Meachem - OUT
Lance Moore - 3
Jeremy Shockey - 3
David Thomas - 1
Pierre Thomas - 2
Interestingly, Lance Moore led all Saints receivers in targets from Drew Brees in the preseason opener. Once again, Moore is finally healthy and should reemerge as a heavily relied-upon weapon for Brees this season. He caught two passes for only 10 yards, but drew a pass interference flag on a deep bomb down the sideline.
Rookie defensive end Junior Galette had only two tackles, but really frustrated New England's backup quarterbacks with relentless pressure. He still has a long way to go, but he looks like he has a ton of promise.
Ravens 17, Panthers 12
Joe Flacco was very impressive in the preseason opener, going 8-of-12 for 120 yards and a touchdown. He took a pair of sacks because he held on to the ball too long, but that was his only flaw of the night. Flacco looked in complete control of the offense, and seems poised for a big year if he can stay healthy. If you can draft Flacco in the seventh round of a 12-team league, you're getting a steal.
LeRon McClain looked great running the ball, gaining 21 yards on four carries. Willis McGahee, meanwhile, seemed like he was the recipient of a billion screen passes; he caught four passes for 37 receiving yards. Ray Rice didn't play.
Anquan Boldin caught only one pass for 12 yards, but was targeted three times. An impressive receiver for the Ravens in the preseason opener was actually tight end Ed Dickson, who grabbed a pair of balls (not that there's anything wrong with that) for 26 yards with the second team. Dickson was also targeted deep on an errant pass from Marc Bulger. I'm not suggesting you should draft Dickson or anything, but he's worth keeping an eye on as a possible waiver-wire pick-up.
Shame on all of those teams that passed on Terrence Cody; it looks like Baltimore got itself a steal in the second round. Not only did Cody make a number of impressive plays in this contest, including an instance where he manhandled Ryan Kalil and swallowed up DeAngelo Williams; he also saw some action on offense as LeRon McClain's lead blocker.
Matt Moore started the preseason opener against the Ravens. Things didn't go very well; Moore was 4-of-7 but for only 32 yards. It's hard to judge Moore on this performance because Steve Smith wasn't in the lineup. Instead, Moore had to target his awful tight ends early and often.
With Jonathan Stewart sidelined, DeAngelo Williams received all the early work. Williams had 33 yards on five carries, including a 22-yard gain that was keyed by an impressive block from fullback Tony Fiammeta.
Brandon LaFell had a really disappointing performance in the preseason opener. LaFell was targeted once, but dropped a beautiful Jimmy Clausen fade in the end zone. LaFell had a strong training camp, so watching him struggle was disheartening.
Speaking of Jimmy Clausen, the second-round rookie had an impressive first outing. He made several nice throws, including a 25-yard dart to Kenneth Moore and a 19-yard bullet that was right on the money to Donte Rosario. Clausen was 8-of-15 for 80 yards and a pick that wasn't his fault (receiver Dexter Jackson fell down). He also had a dropped touchdown on a perfect fade pass to LaFell. Clausen looked like he had trouble moving on his injured toe and his clock management needs work, but he certainly didn't look like a rookie.
Maybe the Panthers won't miss Julius Peppers after all. Rookie Greg Hardy seemingly was in Baltimore's backfield whenever he was on the field. Granted, this was mostly against the Ravens' backups, but Hardy is certainly off to a great start after two injury-plagued collegiate seasons at Ole Miss.
Cowboys 16, Bengals 7
Tony Romo played on just one drive against the Bengals, but looked really sharp in his limited action. He was 5-of-10 for 59 yards, leading his team all the way down to the 1-yard line where they stalled on three incomplete passes.
Of those 10 throws, Roy Williams was targeted an ungodly four times, including twice in the end zone. He came up with only one catch. Miles Austin-Jones also had one reception off just two targets.
Marion Barber actually started the game, and rushed for seven yards on two carries. Felix Jones had one carry for four yards, but was also targeted in the end zone.
What happened to using Jason Witten on the goal line? Though Cowboys coaches promised to use Witten more in the red zone, Witten ran only one route on goal-to-go at the 1-yard line against the Bengals. On that play, Romo felt the pressure and had to dump it off to Felix Jones. Instead of Witten getting the end-zone targets, Roy Williams undeservedly saw two tosses go his way. I want to see what happens in Dallas' next two preseason games, but it's not looking good right now.
The star of the game for the Cowboys was backup tight end John Phillips, who caught four passes for 60 yards, which includes one from Romo. Phillips also had a number of solid blocks before leaving the game with a knee injury. It's now being speculated that Phillips tore his ACL, which is a shame because he looked great.
The silver lining for the Cowboys is that Phillips' replacement, Scott Sicko, was also impressive; he had five receptions for 44 yards.
If you didn't watch the Bengals-Cowboys game, you may have looked at David Buehler's 3-of-4 field goals and said, "That looks good." It was far from good. Buehler's longest successful kick was from 34 yards, which barely sneaked through the upright. Buehler's missed field goal from 49 was embarrassingly wide left. I can no longer recommend drafting this guy despite all the opportunities he'll receive.
Carson Palmer did not look good against the Cowboys. He was just 2-of-5 for 18 yards, and was sacked twice. He looked like the same guy who struggled in 2009 - a quarterback with minimal arm strength.
While Carson Palmer struggled, Terrell Owens looked pretty good; he caught two passes for 18 yards. Owens was targeted a whopping five times, and seemed like he truly was the "Batman" of the receiving corps.
Chad Ochocinco didn't do much against the Cowboys; he didn't catch a single pass and was targeted once. He looked like a clear-cut "Robin" to Terrell Owens' "Batman." Perhaps Ochocinco should have spent more time working out and less time on his $10 reality TV shows this offseason.
Two young defenders who looked great for the Bengals: Geno Atkins (6 tackles, 1 sack) and Michael Johnson (3 tackles, 2 sacks).
The Bengals better hope Carson Palmer doesn't get hurt this season; they don't have anything behind him. J.T. O'Sullivan looked like a crack addict under center, and Jordan Palmer was even worse. Read more about them and this game in my 2010 Hall of Fame Game Live Blog.
Bengals 33, Broncos 24
The NFL Network constantly cut into the 49ers-Colts game to hype up this contest. Their reason for doing so, of course, was Tim Tebow. Tebow didn't play until the second half, but managed to go 8-of-13 for 105 yards and a rushing touchdown despite the fact that he suffered a drop on a perfectly thrown long pass. Although he posted those impressive numbers, Tebow naturally drew heavy criticism.
Tebow took two sacks and had some of his passes knocked off the mark because of his long wind-up. In fact, the Bengals were credited for a fumble returned for a touchdown until that particular play was overturned due to the tuck rule.
Still though, Denver fans and Tebow supporters have to be encouraged. Tebow wasn't going to fix his release this quickly. It's going to take time, and he has the work ethic to get the job done. The good news is that Tebow had a number of impressive throws in this contest. That's what matters most at this point.
As for Denver's starting quarterback, Kyle Orton was a pretty mediocre 8-of-13 for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Orton didn't have the services of Ryan Clady, Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter and Demaryius Thomas, so it's tough to judge this performance.
I was disappointed to see that Eddie Royal was targeted just once in the preseason opener. Royal caught a 19-yard touchdown out of the slot, but as for right now, it doesn't appear as though he'll re-live his 2008 fantasy glory as long as Josh McDaniels is around.
Kyle Orton didn't look toward Eddie Royal often, opting instead to target Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Lloyd five times each. Lloyd's a non-factor because he'll be on the bench once Demaryius Thomas comes back, but Gaffney appears to have picked up where he left off at the end of the 2009 campaign; he caught two balls for 37 yards.
You could tell the Broncos were really hurting at the running back position. Lance Ball started, and the team's backs had just 11 carries total.
Carson Palmer's numbers look great: 12-of-15 for 105 yards. It's worth noting, however, that he began Sunday's preseason contest 3-of-6 for 13 yards. Palmer racked up the majority of his yardage against Denver's second team, and still looked like he was struggling to get anything deep downfield.
Chad Ochocinco hasn't done anything this preseason. In two contests, he's been targeted only three times, making one 4-yard catch. At this point you have to wonder if Ochocinco's ridiculous reality endeavors have ruined his 2010 season.
While Chad Ochocinco wasn't much of a factor on Sunday night, Terrell Owens caught four balls for 23 yards on six targets. Amazingly, he's functioning as Cincinnati's No. 1 receiver despite being on the team for less than a month.
Jermaine Gresham is finally coming on. Playing exclusively with the first team Sunday night, Gresham converted on all three of his targets for 37 yards. Drafting rookie tight ends is often futile, but Gresham is talented enough to be a rare exception; with Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco garnering all of the attention, things will open up for Gresham.
With Antonio Bryant sidelined, Jordan Shipley shined as a slot receiver. Carson Palmer targeted Shipley thrice, and the rookie caught all three balls for 39 yards. He's not worth drafting, but he's worth a look in keeper leagues.
Cincinnati's running game worked very well. Cedric Benson notched 30 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Bernard Scott, meanwhile, ran circles around Denver's scrubs, totaling 65 rushing yards on eight attempts in addition to two catches for 48 receiving yards. If Benson gets hurt, Scott will be a hell of a pick-up.
If you want a laugh, check out the following play excerpt from NFL.com's Game Center:
4-11-DEN 42 (3:37) (Shotgun) 15-T.Tebow Aborted.
Or, read CKane138's quote about Brady Quinn, who was an abysmal 6-of-16 for 68 yards and a pick: "This just in: Brady Quinn demoted to 8th on the Broncos QB depth chart. The number seven guy plays guard for the Redskins."
Browns 27, Packers 24
I'm really shocked. When I saw that the Browns scored early against the Packers via Game Center on Saturday night, I just shrugged it off to some fluke. After watching this game though, I'm in awe.
Jake Delhomme was awesome in the preseason opener. I don't know if he's healthy again, or if his son is finally safe and sound at home, but Delhomme looks like the same guy who quarterbacked the Panthers to the Super Bowl seven years ago. Delhomme was 6-of-7 for 66 yards. His one incompletion was nearly picked off by Nick Collins, but overall this was a great improvement over last season's disaster.
Here were Delhomme's targets:
Mohamed Massaquoi: 3
Evan Moore: 2
Brian Robiskie: 2
Mohamed Massaquoi was very impressive in the preseason opener. He caught all three of his targets on the first drive, turning those completions into 36 yards. Massaquoi is a No. 1 receiver with upside whom you can land in the double-digit rounds.
I don't know what happened to Brian Robiskie last year, but the Ohio State product is finally coming on. Robiskie saw two targets from Jake Delhomme on the opening drive at Green Bay, and three targets on the next drive from Seneca Wallace. Robiskie finished with three grabs for 32 yards and a score. He's not worth drafting yet, but he might be worth a late-round flier at the end of the summer if he keeps producing in these preseason games.
If you were reading this site last year, you know that I suggested to keep an eye out on Evan Moore. Moore converted on both of his targets on the opening drive at Green Bay, notching 24 yards. Moore is an athletic tight end who could have a solid 2010 campaign. I wouldn't draft him, but Moore could be worth a look as a bye-week filler if he continues to play well.
With Montario Hardesty sidelined, Jerome Harrison started the exhibition opener for the Browns. He rushed for 25 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. The important thing is that Harrison received a carry at Green Bay's 4-yard line over Peyton Hillis. If Harrison starts over Hardesty and can keep the goal-line touches, he's going to have a monstrous fantasy season.
As good as Jake Delhomme looked, it was nothing compared to Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers was masterful, completing his first 10 passes and finishing 12-of-13 for 159 yards and a touchdown. He's unquestionably the top fantasy quarterback going into the 2010 season.
With so many weapons, it's worth looking at Rodgers' targets:
Donald Driver: 3
Jermichael Finley: 2
Korey Hall: 1
Brandon Jackson: 1
Greg Jennings: 3 (1 in end zone)
James Jones: 2
Donald Lee: 1
Donald Driver caught all three targets thrown his way in the preseason opener, notching 19 yards. Driver was moving around pretty well and will be moved up in my 2010 Fantasy Football Rankings. If you plan on drafting him as a starter, however, remember that he's a 35-year-old coming off two knee surgeries. It's unrealistic to expect Driver to stay healthy all season.
James Jones played during most of the exhibition opener, but saw two targets go his way from Aaron Rodgers despite the fact that Donald Driver was on the field. Jones is a nice late-round flier because he has the potential of posting big numbers in the wake of a Driver injury.
Ryan Grant did not have a good preseason debut. He fumbled on his first carry and suffered a concussion on his third attempt. Grant should be fine for the regular-season opener though.
Colt McCoy really looks like a bust. He was 5-of-10 for 25 yards and two interceptions. All of his completions were short junk, and his first pick was a severely underthrown pass into double coverage that looked like it came from a pimply faced high school kid. McCoy should have been a late-round pick at best, but Mike Holmgren has a fetish for taking untalented quarterbacks in later rounds over more talented signal-callers early on.
Kevin Harlan is one of my favorite play-by-play guys, so it was nice hearing him announce this contest. Unfortunately, he was paired with Rich Gannon, who sounds like he may have suffered one too many concussions in his playing career.
When Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn entered the contest, Gannon got excited and exclaimed, "This is Matt Flynn's third year in this offense. I think it's time for Flynn to start making plays for this team." Yes. Even with Aaron Rodgers playing under center, it's time for Flynn to start making plays. Perhaps Flynn's clipboard-holding skills have really improved so these plays can happen.
Later on, Gannon announced that he had a source who opined that Flynn is the best backup quarterback in the NFL. That's right - better than Chad Pennington, Billy Volek, Sage Rosenfels and Kerry Collins. Who's Gannon's source, Matt Millen? Perhaps Gannon doesn't even have a source because he earlier stated that he "loved Colt McCoy coming out of college."
Giants 31, Jets 16
Most coaches have played their starters for a quarter the first week of this preseason. The Bears and Browns went just one series. That's pretty natural. Don't tell that to Rex Ryan, though. Ryan had Mark Sanchez and his first-stringers on the field for the entire first half.
Sanchez was 13-of-17 for 119 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Those numbers are awesome, but it must be noted that Sanchez was 7-of-7 for 72 yards against the Giants' second-team defense during Ryan's attempt to run up the score against his cross-town rival. Sanchez was just 6-of-10 for 47 yards versus the Giants' starters. His pick was awful, as he forced a pass to LaDainian Tomlinson that was deflected and nearly returned for six.
Believe it or not, Braylon Edwards hung on to all three of the catchable passes thrown his way. Before you get any ideas about him finally turning things around, remember that this was a nationally televised night game. Braylon always thrives on a national stage. I fully expect him to revert to drop mode once the lights are off and the ESPN cameras are gone.
You may notice that Brad Smith tied Braylon Edwards for the Jet lead in targets Monday night. Don't get too excited; Smith will be headed to the bench once Santonio Holmes' four-game suspension is up. Holmes played exclusively with the second team against the Giants, catching four passes for 55 yards.
Shonn Greene looked great in the preseason opener. He bulldozed his way for 26 yards on five carries. He also lined up in the slot on one possession and caught a 5-yard pass. Most importantly, Greene - not LaDainian Tomlinson - was in the backfield when the Jets entered the Giants' 5-yard line. Feel free to draft Greene as your RB1 at the end of the first round. He could legitimately score 15-plus touchdowns this year.
LaDainian Tomlinson actually impressed me in his debut with the Jets. He rushed for just 17 yards on eight carries, but had a 14-yard touchdown scamper called back because of a penalty. He also had a 14-yard reception. Tomlinson inexplicably showed some of the quickness and burst he lacked in 2009. Shonn Greene will definitely get the bulk of the carries - including the touches inside the 5-yard line - but Tomlinson could turn out to be a decent flex option in PPR leagues.
There was a scary moment in the second quarter of this game. Eli Manning dropped back to pass, but Brandon Jacobs thought that it was a running play. Jacobs crashed into Manning, whose helmet came off. Manning then fell down and hit a Jet player, opening up a cut on his head. Manning was bleeding all over the place and had to leave the field. He was given 12 stitches, but luckily is fine.
Manning was 4-of-8 for 77 yards. With several offensive linemen out, Manning didn't have any time to scan the field against Rex Ryan's chaotic blitz schemes. He should have thrown two interceptions; Antonio Cromartie dropped a pair of very catchable picks.
Here were Manning's targets:
Ramses Barden: 2
Ahmad Bradshaw: 2
Hakeem Nicks: 2
Mario Manningham: 2
Steve Smith: out
Ahmad Bradshaw started the game for the Giants and actually received more work than Brandon Jacobs. Bradshaw couldn't get anything on the ground behind a skeleton-crew offensive line, but caught two passes for 58 yards. Jacobs got all of the goal-line touches and scored on the third of three tries, but wasn't involved much otherwise.
If you didn't see this game, you missed the debut of the next Terrell Owens. Well, he's the next Owens according to the numbers, anyway. Cruz, a 6-1, 200-pound undrafted rookie, had six catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first receiver to have three scores in his first preseason game since Owens.
Those numbers weren't bogus; Cruz scored a 64-yard touchdown with a jaw-dropping one-handed catch with his left hand. He also routinely beat Jet corners Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman, two guys who have contributed as reserves the past few years. I'd love to see Cruz get a legitimate chance to move past the inept Mario Manningham and Ramses Barden on the Giants' depth chart.