A bunch of NFL teams drafted late-round rookie quarterbacks in April, hoping to find a backup of the future. The story of the preseason thus far is how many of these Day 3 picks have outplayed expectations and the veterans ahead of them, including the Raiders’ Aidan O’Connell, Packers’ Sean Clifford, Eagles’ Tanner McKee and Browns’ Dorian Thompson-Robinson. That doesn’t even include Chicago undrafted D-II rookie Tyson Bagent, who has shown up strong, or Arizona fifth-rounder Clayton Tune, who may still be in a battle for the Week 1 starting job. The usual caveats apply here about the strength of competition and how much to draw from the preseason, but this group has played well enough to possibly change depth charts entering the season.
In short: Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson probably won’t be the only rookie quarterbacks to play in 2023.
That’s the only thing about this column that’s short. Here’s everything else you need to know after the second full weekend of the preseason.
1) I didn’t need to see Atlanta Falcons phenom Bijan Robinson break four tackles in four carries and catch a pass with one hand in his one series Friday to believe he’s getting taken too low in fantasy drafts. (But it didn’t hurt.) With that offensive line in Atlanta, he’s no lower than RB2 in fantasy for me — and maybe No. 1!
2) Falcons WR Drake London and TE Kyle Pitts combined for three catches on that 15-play opening drive, which is a nice sneak preview of what coach Arthur Smith wants to do this season. All systems are go for Pitts’ health. Josh Kendall of The Athletic writes that London, Mack Hollins, KhaDarel Hodge and Scotty Miller are the top four wideouts on a team that figures to line up with three receivers less than anyone else in the league. A veteran addition still wouldn’t be a surprise.
3) Carolina Panthers left tackle Ikem Ekwonu struggled for the second straight week, letting rookie quarterback Bryce Young get popped twice by Kayvon Thibodeaux. That’s four QB hits allowed in two weeks by last year’s No. 6 overall pick despite limited work. It’s been a small sample size, but Young was a little hesitant to pull the trigger in his second appearance. The Panthers’ three points with the No. 1 overall pick on the field only came because of a roughing the passer penalty that kept a drive going.
4) It’s nice when the preseason backs up the practice reports. In the one drive for the New York Giants’ starters, TE Darren Waller and WR Parris Campbell combined for six catches on seven targets. Waller also drew a double team that led to a touchdown. Rookie Jalin Hyatt worked in with the starters and caught a touchdown from Tyrod Taylor, but it appears Hyatt is fourth up in the receiver rotation.
5) In case it wasn’t obvious based on usage, Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said sixth-round rookie Tre Hawkins III from Old Dominion has been one of the team’s best three cornerbacks.
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6) Rookie wideout Rashee Rice dropped a pass from Patrick Mahomes early in the Chiefs’ 38-10 romp over the Cardinals. That’s not a great sign, but it is noteworthy the second-rounder was even playing with Mahomes in early drives. Rice stayed in and wound up catching eight passes for 96 yards. He can do a lot of things JuJu Smith-Schuster did in the offense last year. It’s noteworthy, too, that when the sputtering Chiefs starters absolutely needed a third-down conversion after a few failed early drives, Mahomes looked to Skyy Moore. While many of the league’s starters sat in Week 2, Mahomes played 25 snaps.
7) Another Kansas City rookie, pass rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah, has provided consistent pressure in two preseason games. There’s ample opportunity for the first-rounder to get snaps right away at a thin position for the reigning Super Bowl champs.
8) The Chiefs have a legitimate battle on their hands for the backup-quarterback spot due to an inspired preseason from Shane Buechele. Kansas City signed Blaine Gabbert with the idea he’d be QB2.
9) The Chiefs are expected to sit starters in the third preseason game after getting so much work in over the first two weeks. Other teams will sit starters the entire preseason. Jaguars coach Doug Pederson, however, says his starters could play an entire half this week. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers apparently will make his preseason debut for the Jets in Saturday’s crosstown bout vs. the Giants. There is no one preseason plan anymore.
10) Another week passed without much progress from the Jets’ offensive line, in health or performance. I thought these quotes from Rodgers last Wednesday were telling:
“Some things are out of my control. Some things I have input on. Who’s playing left and right tackle every day, I don’t have input on at this point.”
“I don’t get concerned heavily about things I don’t have a huge role in yet. Now, that might change. At some point I might say, ‘I need the five who are going to be in there to be in there with me for a solid week.’ “
“At this point” and “yet” are doing some heavy lifting there.
11) The Jets have a lot hanging in the balance on offense late in camp. Dalvin Cook has yet to practice coming off a shoulder injury. It’s uncertain if Breece Hall will take any preseason snaps and how quickly his burst will come back after last October’s ACL tear. Left tackle Duane Brown has yet to practice, while rookie center Joe Tippmann got hurt on Saturday. One positive: Mekhi Becton continues to stack solid preseason outings and could be back in the mix to start at right tackle.
12) Hard Knocks star Michael Carter appears to be the Jets’ third running back behind Cook and Hall, considering Carter was rested in the second preseason game.
13) The Clayton Tune-Colt McCoy quarterback battle sweeping America still appears to be ongoing. McCoy led the first-team offense to three first downs and no points in his first three drives. Tune, a fifth-round rookie from Houston, led the Cardinals to 10 points on his first three drives and then guided another 15-play march later. Tune’s accuracy was spotty again, with the 24-year-old finishing 12-of-24 for 133 yards, although his running ability (35 yards on six carries) helped out a leaky Cardinals offensive line. I’m convinced we’ll see Tune start games this season, possibly early.
14) Isaiah Simmons at deep safety remains a “work in progress,” according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com, after some big mistakes in the team’s second preseason game. There are a lot of questions in Arizona’s secondary, especially after No. 1 cornerback Marco Wilson left Sunday’s game with an injury.
15) Buccaneers QB Kyle Trask played well against the Jets, but Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles’ actions made it clear Baker Mayfield already won the job. Bowles said after the game he didn’t want to put Mayfield in harm’s way behind backup offensive linemen, even though Trask was. When third-string quarterback John Wolford left with a neck injury, Trask was put back in the game.
16) The Buccaneers lost No. 3 receiver Russell Gage for the season with a ruptured patellar tendon suffered during practice. It’s devastating for Gage and comes at a thin position for the Bucs. Sixth-round pick Trey Palmer burned Sauce Gardner during joint practices for a big play, according to PewterReport.com, and caught a touchdown in the preseason game.
17) Veteran center Ryan Jensen signed a big contract extension with Tampa Bay last offseason. He missed all of last regular season with an injury that included three ligament tears, multiple fractures and a meniscus issue. He battled back to play in Tom Brady’s final game, the team’s playoff loss, and may be paying for it now.
Jensen hasn’t been able to practice in back-to-back days, and the way Bowles spoke Sunday, it sounds like the 32-year-old could be a candidate for in-season injured reserve. Tampa’s offensive line is a major question mark this season. Moving Tristan Wirfs to left tackle could also weaken the team’s one massive strength.
18) Los Angeles Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson, who received one of the biggest contracts in 2022 free agency, is working his way back from a ruptured patellar tendon. He ramped up his 11-on-11 work last week and could have a role for the Chargers in Week 1.
19) Consider this a good omen for the Chargers: Practice reports from their sessions with the Saints indicated both L.A. lines won their battles. It’s been a long time since the Bolts were consistently good up front.
20) It’s uncertain what Saints TE Jimmy Graham’s initial arrest and “likely seizure” will have on his football future. Dennis Allen said Sunday that Graham, who is back with the team, is now “in a good spot.”
21) In case the tape from last season and this year’s preseason opener didn’t get you excited enough about Juwan Johnson as a fantasy sleeper, the Saints tight end reportedly stacked more good days in joint practices against the Chargers, per Katherine Terrell of ESPN.
22) It appears that the injuries suffered last week by Minnesota Vikings cornerbacks Akayleb Evans and Mekhi Blackmon were minor. (Both players are starters in the team’s nickel package.) Still, the scare underscored how unproven this position is for Minnesota. I could see the Vikings being active in the next few weeks, looking for veteran help at cornerback, guard and possibly on the defensive line. This is not a deep team.
23) Based on the joint practice reports on the Purple Daily podcast, I’m expecting Brian Flores’ Minnesota defense to be just as weird, multiple and difficult to decode for opponents (and some Vikings players) as the Dolphins defense Flores ran back in his Miami days.
24) Second-year QB Malik Willis played all of the Titans’ second preseason game with rookie Will Levis nursing an injury. Willis has made clear strides in Year 2, and the same Purple Daily podcast noted Levis looked rough in joint practices. Willis had some poor misses in the 24-16 win over the Vikings, but also ran for 91 yards. Levis can run, but not like that. Willis reportedly played well in the practices, too.
25) I have no clue who the Titans’ third receiver is, and that was true even before Kyle Philips got hurt Saturday night. With Treylon Burks currently out with a sprained LCL, that means I have no clue who the Titans’ second receiver is. Expect a lot of two-tight end sets.
26) Tanner McKee is becoming a thing. The sixth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles has played lights out in both of his outings, in stark contrast to backup Marcus Mariota’s ugly performances and practice reports. There’s no way Philadelphia can try to sneak McKee onto the practice squad now. The quarterback factory is back!
27) Philly lost cornerback Zech McPhearson for the season to a torn Achilles on Thursday night. He was likely to make the team as a key backup at the slot and outside. The Eagles remain deep enough at cornerback, although rookie Kelee Ringo hasn’t looked ready for a role on the outside. Josh Jobe is probably their No. 4 cornerback.
28) The Eagles are going to play a lot of rookies for such a good team. But it’s pretty wild that third-round safety Sydney Brown may be the only starter, while first-round defenders Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith come off the bench as super subs. Brown flies all over the field and could be the favorite to start opposite Reed Blankenship.
29) Zach Cunningham started the Eagles’ second preseason game next to Nakobe Dean. That’s the most likely Week 1 pairing. Cunningham has shown up in practices, per Bo Wulf on the Birds with Friends podcast, and looked great against the Browns. Fellow recent signing Myles Jack decided to retire on Sunday after being stuck with third-stringers in practice.
30) I’m not sure how to feel about the Baltimore Ravens’ defense. The unit finished last season playing as well as nearly any group in football, yet it’s hard to ignore how thin the Ravens are at cornerback after Marlon Humphrey’s foot injury, which will likely keep him out to start the season. They had major questions and injury concerns at CB even before Humphrey’s surgery.
31) Jadeveon Clowney to the Ravens just makes sense. They needed each other, and based on Baltimore’s track record with aging D-line veterans, Clowney figures to provide a boost at a thin edge spot.
32) I mentioned the strange Tyler Huntley situation last week. After missing practice all week with a hamstring injury, his status as Baltimore’s backup seems even less certain. Could the Ravens get a fourth-round pick for him?
33) The Ravens were trying Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard on the offensive line early in camp, but the veteran’s back to working at fullback and tight end after he asked off the new duties. Baltimore may revisit the idea next offseason.
34) There wasn’t much drama in the Commanders’ quarterback competition, but Sam Howell truly did appear to check all the necessary boxes this offseason before being named the starter. I’m expecting a lot of highlight-reel plays and plenty of mistakes. He’s strong in the quick game and is a good runner. That may be necessary behind a shaky-looking offensive line.
35) Joey Slye won the Commanders’ kicking competition over Michael “Money Badger” Badgley. Just thought you would want to know.
36) Former Titans, Steelers and Broncos coach Mike Munchak has been hanging around the Rams’ facility as a consultant, per Jourdan Rodrigue on the 11 Personnel podcast. Munchak is one of the great position coaches of the last 20 years and would be a massive addition to the Rams if they can keep him in the building.
37) Rodrigue noted that Rams rookie edge rusher Byron Young was given the locked-in starter treatment, getting Saturday night’s game off. The third-round pick reportedly had a strong week of joint practices against the Raiders.
38) I was in person for the Stetson Bennett-vs.-Aidan O’Connell showdown in Los Angeles. It makes sense the Rams want to see what they have in Bennett, but he does not look ready to be a primary backup as a rookie. He threw an ugly pick-six and is very lucky not to have five or six interceptions over the last two weeks. Could L.A. sign a veteran to back up Matthew Stafford?
39) O’Connell, meanwhile, looks like he belongs. His ball placement in both games has been fantastic. There’s not much reason for the Raiders to keep Brian Hoyer on the roster.
40) Reading and listening to Raiders coverage all month has left fans higher on the defense than expected — and probably more worried about the offense. Jimmy Garoppolo knocked the rust off, however, with a solid touchdown drive against the Rams. He reportedly had a good week of practices, too, after a shaky couple of weeks.
41) The Seattle Seahawks had a positive week on the injury front, getting Kenneth Walker III back to practice after three weeks off with a groin injury. Zach Charbonnet has popped off nice runs in each preseason game, earning a big role alongside Walker. Just listening to Pete Carroll talk, I think the Seahawks like Charbonnet more because he’s more complete and reliable. Linebacker Jordyn Brooks was also activated off the PUP list this week.
42) Undrafted UCLA wideout Jake Bobo was Seattle’s leading receiver in the team’s mock game and preseason opener. According to Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic, the Seahawks have adopted a catchphrase “More Bobo” inside the locker room. He gave the people what they wanted with a 28-yard pickup from Geno Smith in the second preseason. We could all use more Bobo in our lives. Bobo aside, the Seahawks possibly own the top wideout trio in the league. Rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba had a beautiful 48-yard gainer among three catches on Saturday.
43) Seahawks rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon has missed so much time with a hamstring injury that his status for Week 1 is uncertain, and a starting job appears unlikely, at least early. Tre Brown may have won an edge over competitor Mike Jackson with an interception against the Cowboys.
44) Training camp and the preseason are for players like second-year Cowboys wideout Jalen Tolbert. After a lost, disappointing rookie year, the 2022 third-round pick looked like a different player in Oxnard and has created separation consistently in the preseason. He led the Cowboys in receiving Saturday and has earned a role on the Week 1 offense.
45) Despite his first-round status, Mazi Smith is not expected to start to open the season, according to Jon Machota and Saad Yousuf of The Athletic. Veteran Johnathan Hankins remains ahead of Smith. The Cowboys drafted for need with Smith and second-round tight end Luke Schoonmaker and neither may have much of a role early.
46) Everyone’s favorite 5-5 running back, Deuce Vaughn, has undoubtedly made the Dallas Cowboys with a strong camp and two dynamite preseason performances. He could earn meaningful snaps in the regular season behind Tony Pollard. Rico Dowdle appears next in line for snaps, but a veteran pickup could make sense here.
47) It’s been quite a month for the International Player Pathway products. After CJ Okoye made national news last week with a sack for the Chargers in his first football game at any level, Nigerian Raiders defensive end David Agoha recorded a sack on Saturday. Texans defensive end Adedayo Odeleye, also an IPP player, has two sacks this preseason. Out of the eight players selected for the program this year, six are from Nigeria. Agoha started playing football last year.
48) Both Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns of The Athletic say that slot-only corner Kyler Gordon was the best Chicago defensive player in camp. The route to the Bears defense improving starts in their intriguing young secondary, where general manager Ryan Poles has invested a ton of resources.
49) Undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent has a shot to beat out P.J. Walker for the Bears’ backup job. The 23-year-old out of (*checks notes*) Shepherd University could be a boon for D-II representation. Walker has struggled in the preseason, although he was given $2 million guaranteed in the offseason. He’s probably not going anywhere, but the Bears have to carry Bagent on their roster now because he’s played too well to try to slip through waivers.
50) The Bears haven’t had big-ticket free-agent linebacker Tremaine Edmunds on the field in nearly three weeks with an undisclosed injury. It’s something to watch for Edmunds in a new system, especially because his Bills career was such a roller coaster. Bears wideout Chase Claypool has also been out for two weeks as of this writing.
51) Anthony Richardson sat out the second preseason game, but Indianapolis Colts coach Shane Steichen indicated that the team’s starters would likely play this week. I’ll be curious to see how much rookie slot receiver Josh Downs plays with him. Downs, Richardson’s camp roommate, made some plays this weekend. He’s competing with veteran Isaiah McKenzie for the starting job.
52) Colts owner Jim Irsay extended a short olive branch to running back Jonathan Taylor over the weekend with some measured words, but it’s anyone’s guess what will actually end the standoff. The Colts also said Taylor missed practice this week with an “excused absence,” so it appears they are trying to avoid inflaming the situation.
53) Kenny Pickett has led the Steelers to three touchdowns in three preseason possessions. No young quarterback has received more consistent camp hype as someone who has developed this offseason — and he’s backed it up in the games.
54) Pittsburgh running back Jaylen Warren’s 62-yard touchdown showed Steelers coaches something Najee Harris simply can’t do. (Harris had exactly one run of more than 20 yards in 272 attempts last season.) Warren is also one of the better receiving backs in football, according to some metrics. Consider this a good problem for the Steelers and a reason to divide the workload more than they did a year ago.
55) The rest of the league let the Steelers find another edge rusher. Fourth-round pick Nick Herbig has 2.5 preseason sacks and has made a bigger impact in his first camp than most highly touted players. I love this Pittsburgh pass-rushing group.
56) San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan appeared to break out some of the good stuff for Brock Purdy’s one successful march down the field on Saturday. Perhaps he wanted to give the second-year pro some confidence after an interception-strewn camp. Sam Darnold and Trey Lance both played well behind Purdy against the Broncos, with Lance leading three late scoring drives to nab a win. I still think another team could take on Lance for the price of a mid-round pick.
57) The 49ers gave former Falcons cornerback Isaiah Oliver more than $4 million guaranteed this offseason. I was constantly perplexed when some spoke of him as a locked-and-loaded starter on one of the league’s best defenses after his struggles in Atlanta. Three weeks into camp, he’s been replaced (at least for now) as a first-stringer. The 49ers are trying Ambry Thomas on the outside in the nickel formation, with outside starter Deommodore Lenoir moving inside in that grouping.
58) Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams didn’t display anything overly noteworthy in his return to action from a torn ACL. Still, just being on the field for seven touches alongside Russell Wilson is a victory. Williams had a drop, but also made a nice 12-yard catch on a comeback route where he lined up as a wideout. Still, I will not be surprised if free-agent pickup Samaje Perine splits the workload early in the season or if Williams becomes 1B behind Perine. Undrafted rookie Jaleel McLaughlin could also get some touches.
59) Russell Wilson ran for 25 yards on three carries, including a decisive 17-yard scamper up the middle. Wilson’s movement has reportedly looked better in practice and he does appear faster than last season. Wilson’s other snaps were mostly uneventful, but coach Sean Payton really talked up the 34-year-old’s improvement in practices this week.
60) Cincinnati Bengals first-round pass rusher Myles Murphy has had a quiet camp, according to Paul Dehner Jr. at The Athletic. That wouldn’t quite be nugget worthy, but when defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo says he wants to see a “different gear” from Murphy, it’s worth noting. The Bengals were hoping Murphy could be a high-impact third rusher at a position where they ask starters Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard to play a ton of snaps.
61) Another week, another plea to Bengals general manager Duke Tobin and coach Zac Taylor not to go into the season with Jake Browning or Trevor Siemian one snap away at quarterback. They went 21 straight drives without a touchdown until late in Friday night’s 13-13 tie with the Falcons. Perhaps they can get Brandon Allen back from San Francisco?
62) With Trayveon Williams hurt, Chris Evans has emerged as Cincinnati’s third-down back. I’ve always liked Evans as a receiver.
63) Bengals running back Joe Mixon was found not guilty of an aggravated menacing charge Thursday in Ohio. The Bengals already stood behind Mixon by restructuring his contract this offseason, albeit at a lower price. It appears Mixon will avoid league punishment for this charge.
64) From Zac Jackson of The Athletic, reporting after the Browns’ joint practices with the Eagles: “The passing game has been completely unimpressive. Anything that involves Deshaun Watson remaining in the pocket has been an adventure and not since early in camp have we seen strings of consecutive completions in any 11-on-11 period.”
The potentially uncomfortable marriage of Kevin Stefanski’s scheme and Watson has been on my radar since Cris Collinsworth’s comments during the Hall of Fame Game, and it doesn’t sound like Watson has made much progress since.
65) Meanwhile, the Browns might have found something at quarterback in fifth-round pick Dorian Thompson-Robinson. For the third straight week, the UCLA product looked like he belongs.
66) Second-year Browns kicker Cade York was struggling in camp even before missing three kicks in the first two preseason games. He got two chances to hit a game-winner this week because of a penalty on the Eagles — and missed both times. Someone, however, had posted a video at halftime of York’s two first-half makes. But that ‘Gram blast didn’t last long.
67) Patriots wideout Kendrick Bourne made a couple of plays Saturday night that should remind Bill Belichick he was routinely the team’s most effective receiver in 2021. Training camp and the preseason are often about earning roles, and it’s clear that Bourne and sixth-round receiver Demario “Pop” Douglas should have a bigger share of the Patriots’ offense than originally expected. Douglas had two catches on only three snaps against the Packers before being put on ice like the locked-in contributor he’s become.
Who will Bourne and Douglas steal targets from? Possibly JuJu Smith-Schuster.
68) It was encouraging to hear that Patriots rookie Isaiah Bolden was released from the hospital Sunday morning after his neck injury resulted in the Patriots-Packers game being suspended Saturday night. Bolden, the only HBCU player drafted this year after playing under Deion Sanders at Jackson State, reportedly had a good chance at earning a roster spot after a strong preseason.
69) NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported last week that Patriots tight end Mike Gesicki suffered a mild dislocated shoulder. It’s unclear if Gesicki will be ready for Week 1.
70) Mike Giardi of the Boston Sports Journal writes that converted guard Sidy Sow might be New England’s starting right tackle in Week 1 despite obvious preseason struggles. The Patriots’ offensive line has been all sorts of injured in camp. Sow is a 25-year-old, fourth-round rookie from Eastern Michigan.
71) I thought Jordan Love played well after some early miscues against the Patriots, a very similar storyline to his first preseason effort against the Bengals. This has been a trend in Green Bay Packers practice reports, too. Love was apparently stymied by New England on Thursday in joint practices.
72) Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst made it clear last week: The team is not trading left tackle David Bakhtiari. The accomplished bookend has stayed healthy in camp, an encouraging sign.
73) One offseason story I’m buying: Love loves throwing to Romeo Doubs, who made a few big plays Saturday. It won’t be that shocking if Doubs rivals Christian Watson for top-dog status among Packers receivers.
74) Packers edge rusher Rashan Gary hasn’t participated in 11-on-11 work yet, so it’s probably expecting too much to believe he’ll be ready for a full workload in Week 1. Based on preseason playing time and performance, second-year pro Kingsley Enagbare may be ahead of first-round pick Lukas Van Ness for snaps at the position.
75) The Buffalo Bills played their starters — including Josh Allen — for three drives against the Steelers and couldn’t score a point. This isn’t cause for alarm, but the O-line questions entering camp — especially at tackle — are only louder after this performance. Second-round guard O’Cyrus Torrence played with the first unit again. He didn’t grade out well, per PFF, but it looks like he’s won a starting job over Ryan Bates.
76) Bills 2022 first-round cornerback Kaiir Elam appeared to be fourth on the depth chart at outside cornerback this week, per Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic. Buffalo’s starting secondary looks great outside of that second outside corner spot, but it’s clear Elam isn’t meeting expectations. The Bills are also searching for a linebacker next to Matt Milano, with coach Sean McDermott admitting earlier this week that’s “an area of concern.”
77) Bills QB Matt Barkley threw three interceptions in 12 pass attempts against the Steelers, giving the edge to Kyle Allen in a backup battle no one seems to want to win. I’m not a huge Carson Wentz fan, but the free agent would be a big upgrade from these two.
78) Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Tank Bigsby continues to get more than what’s blocked in preseason action (70 yards on 13 carries at Detroit) and is evolving into one of the more intriguing clear backup running backs in fantasy football. Establish The Run’s Evan Silva touted Bigsby on our 37th annual Around The NFL Fantasy Extravaganza last week.
79) Trevor Lawrence’s pass protection could be a concern early in the season with left tackle Cam Robinson suspended for four games and first-round right tackle Anton Harrison dealing with a recurring shoulder injury. The Jaguars have some injury concerns on both sides of the trenches with defensive linemen DaVon Hamilton and Foley Fatukasi also hurt, according to Jaguar Report’s John Shipley. Hamilton, who signed a big extension in April, is out indefinitely with “a non-football related medical issue” in his back, according to a statement from the Jaguars. The “non-football related” word usage is a red flag and could mean Hamilton is headed to the NFI list.
80) The Detroit Lions played first-round linebacker Jack Campbell behind Alex Anzalone, Malcolm Rodriguez and Derrick Barnes in the first two preseason games. That’s a surprise, although Campbell has looked the part on the field. Barnes appears the favorite to start.
81) Undrafted rookie cornerback Steven Gilmore has a chance to make the Lions after nabbing an interception against the Jaguars. He is the much younger (nine years) brother of former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.
82) In other surprising Lions depth chart news, second-year pro James Houston was playing deep into the second half on a night the team rested its starters. Despite Houston racking up eight sacks in seven games as a rookie, MLive.com’s Kyle Meinke believes the 2022 sixth-round find is closer to being on the roster bubble or a game-day inactive than getting meaningful snaps.
83) Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins has the quietest “hold-in” in the league. He’s fourth on my top-50 ranking of potential 2024 free agents and a deal before Week 1 wouldn’t be a surprise.
84) Rookie Dolphins RB De’Von Achane’s burst is wild. He had earned a role in Miami’s offense before hurting his shoulder this weekend. It’s uncertain how serious that injury is, but I’m guessing Salvon Ahmed (131 yards from scrimmage vs. Houston) makes the team either way. Mike McDaniel’s team is the prototype when it comes to assembling a cheap, versatile backfield that doesn’t rely on just one guy staying healthy.
85) Skylar Thompson played so well in extended work replacing Tua Tagovailoa on Saturday that Mike White could now be one of the most expensive No. 3 quarterbacks in football. Thompson was good for a rookie QB last season and it appears he’s made a leap.
86) The Dolphins breathed a sigh of relief when left tackle Terron Armstead’s foot/ankle injury suffered last week was not more serious. But he was in a walking boot this weekend and is still uncertain for Week 1. It’s not a great sign Miami’s already back on the weekly “Will he or won’t he play?” unicycle that Armstead’s ridden for much of the last five years. The Dolphins’ offense simply didn’t operate the same without him last year.
87) New coaches mean new roles. Emmanuel Ogbah has been one of the most underrated defensive linemen in football for years, but the Dolphin reportedly looks uncomfortable playing outside linebacker in Vic Fangio’s new scheme. Omar Kelly wrote on SI.com that general manager Chris Grier “wouldn’t be doing his job” if he didn’t gauge Ogbah’s trade value.
88) C.J. Stroud made a few beautiful throws in his second preseason start, which was nice to see from the Texans’ No. 2 overall pick. Those flashes were balanced out by taking a delay of game on the goal line and airmailing an open would-be touchdown on Houston’s first possession. This was progress, but it’s not a great sign that every Texans outlet accentuating the positive is doing so after an outing in which Houston failed to gain a first down in three of Stroud’s four drives. The offense has scored three points in six drives over two games with Stroud behind center.
89) At least No. 3 overall pick Will Anderson Jr. looked amazing. Houston’s entire defense is underrated and a sleeper pick as a top-10 unit under new head coach DeMeco Ryans. It’s big the Texans are getting back edge rusher Jonathan Greenard, who looked good on Saturday.
90) Finally, a quick and irrefutable snapshot of the Preseason MVP race with one week left:
And one last programming note: My final preseason notes recap will come after all 32 teams make their cuts next Tuesday. Until then, I love you all.
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