NFL preseason Week 2 takeaways: Cam Newton delivers efficient first-quarter performance for Patriots

The second full week of the preseason kicks off Thursday, one of five straight days with NFL action. With only two more games before the regular-season opener, expect more starters and names you know to be playing this week.

Things started off Thursday with the New England Patriots traveling to play the Philadelphia Eagles, a game in which Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was scratched late due to illness. The Patriots rolled.

Two more tilts kick off Friday, including the first ESPN broadcast of the 2021 season. That meeting between the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals is also a college reunion, with Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes taking on his coach at Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury — at least for a series or two.

Saturday will see the bulk of the action, with 10 games scheduled. The day starts with an afternoon showdown between the Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears, followed by the New York Jets facing the Green Bay Packers. We might get to see Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson fanboying Packers legend Aaron Rodgers in real time. The night slate features a Texas-sized battle between the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys in Jerry World and the Las Vegas Raiders (arguably the most popular team in Los Angeles) taking on the Los Angeles Rams (who want that title).

The Odell Beckham Jr. Bowl between the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns is one of two contests on Sunday, while Trevor Lawrence finishes things off Monday when the Jacksonville Jaguars visit the New Orleans Saints.

NFL preseason Week 2 schedule

Thursday’s game

New England Patriots 35, Philadelphia Eagles 0

Standout performer: Patriots QB Cam Newton: 8 of 9 passing for 103 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT

Cam Newton made his most decisive statement yet that he isn’t giving up the starting quarterback job, finishing 8-of-9 for 103 yards — with one touchdown and no interceptions — over three drives. Newton looked as comfortable as he’s been as a Patriot, albeit against the Eagles’ second-string defense, with his 28-yard TD to receiver Jakobi Meyers coming after Meyers gave him a hand signal before the snap to declare his intentions. That reflects a QB and WR operating at peak efficiency from a pre-snap communication standpoint. Meanwhile, Mac Jones had some notable highlights in relief, with his first drive covering 17 plays, 91 yards and chewing up 9:04 of the clock. Jones finished 13-of-19 for 146 yards over four drives. — Mike Reiss

Next game: at Giants (6 p.m. ET, Aug. 29)

Rookie receiver DeVonta Smith made his preseason debut and finished with two catches for 19 yards on four targets in one half of work. Much more important than the stat line was the fact that Smith moved well and didn’t appear to be held back by the left MCL sprain that kept him out of practice for two weeks. On his second catch of the night he started inside, hit the brakes, and cut back out to dust cornerback Michael Jackson for a 10-yard reception, showing shades of his Heisman Trophy-winning form. It took some time to knock the rust off, as Smith’s night started, with a couple drops on a pair of imperfect passes from Joe Flacco (who started for an ill Jalen Hurts) but Smith smoothed out as the game progressed and sprang open pretty consistently. All in all, it was a successful warmup for the regular season opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 12. — Tim McManus

Next game: at Jets (7:30 p.m. ET, Aug. 27)

Friday’s games

Kansas City at Arizona, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Cincinnati at Washington, 8 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Saturday’s games

Buffalo at Chicago, 1 p.m. ET, NFL Network

New York Giants at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Atlanta at Miami, 7 p.m. ET

Baltimore at Carolina, 7 p.m. ET

Detroit at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Tennessee at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m. ET

Houston at Dallas, 8 p.m. ET

Indianapolis at Minnesota, 8 p.m. ET

Las Vegas at Los Angeles Rams, 10 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Denver at Seattle, 10 p.m. ET

Sunday’s games

New York Giants at Cleveland, 1 p.m. ET, NFL Network

San Francisco at Los Angeles Chargers, 7:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Monday’s game

Jacksonville at New Orleans, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

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