Preseason Week 3 Overview

(Philadelphia, Pa)—Week 3 of the NFL Pre-season was the last chance for end of the roster players to make a good impression before the “Turk” was coming for NFL Cut Down Day 1 on August 28th (75 player limit). The week featured several high profile matches including territorial “Bragging Rights Bowls“ Philadelphia-Pittsburgh, Baltimore at Washington , Dallas at Houston , and the New York Jets at the New York Giants. Teams used this week to implement their game plan and packages for the start of the regular season and most projected starters played well into the 3rd quarter rewarding fans that plunked down their hard earned money.

But the big news of the week belonged to Falcons suspended quarterback Michael Vick, who plead guilty to his federal dogfighting case on Monday August 27th. Vick’s proceeding overshadowed the ESPN Monday Night Football matchup of the Falcons and Bengals. However the game, which was the first home pre-season game for Atlanta was played and it showed that even without Vick that the NFL machine will continue to roll on toward opening night of September 6th.

The NFL will conclude its pre-season with meaningless week 4 games, which basically means off-season activities from the NFL Draft to OTA’s to Training Camp to Pre-season games are over and the real matchups can begin.

By the way “Commish”, can we please get rid of the 4th pre-season game because it is the ultimate “JV” game. Teams will probably sit their entire starting 22 players to guard against injury and fans will be paying to see guys struggling to make the practice squad.

Anyway there were some bright spot performances noted below that show some veterans and rookies are close to being ready for prime time in September.

Game BallsCardinals WR Anquan Boldin – In a game where he needed to show that he was ready for the regular season, Boldin produced. He seemed to immediately be on the same page with quarterback Matt Leinart catching throwing long and short. He saw a lot of action, recording five catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. Boldin seems to me to be playing the role of “Hines Ward” in Ken Whisenhunt’s offense (former Steelers Offensive Coordinator). Boldin should have a big year doing gritty work and trick plays.

Texans WR/KR Jacoby Jones – The Texans received everything they wanted and more from their 2007 3rd round pick from small school Lane College . Jones solidified himself as a “player” for the Texans this pre-season and the “Governor’s Cup” was his personal showcase. Helping the Texans defeat the Cowboys 28-16, Jones stood with several highlight-reel plays. He returned a first-quarter punt 91 yards for a touchdown, the longest in Texans preseason history. Then he caught his first NFL touchdown, a leaping 19-yarder in the corner of the end zone, which made him the NFL preseason leader in TD’s with three.

Giants DE Justin Tuck – The third-year defensive end out of Notre Dame is proving that he maybe a cheaper alternative to veteran holdout Michael Strahan. Tuck looked strong in the “ Battle for New York ”. He played in just one series, but recorded four tackles, including one sack. Since being inserted at Strahan’s starting right defensive end spot in the second preseason game, Tuck has played solid for the Giants’ first-team defense, which coincidence or not has given up just one touchdown (79-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage against the Jets).

 Scoreboard and Game Notes

Monday, August 27, 2007

Georgia Dome – ESPN

Bengals (0-2-0) 24

Falcons ( 1-1-0 ) 19

This Monday Night football matchup was supposed to be a somber occasion as Falcons star quarterback admitted his guilt on Monday morning, but there were plenty for Falcons fans to cheer about. Vick’s replacement Joey Harrington made a good first impression on fans by throwing for 13-of-21 for 164 yards and two touchdown passes in a 24-19 preseason win by the Falcons (2-1) over the Cincinnati Bengals (0-3). It was a much-needed bright spot for a franchise trying to get past the cloud of the Michael Vick dogfighting cloud. Harrington completed his first six passes, including a 28-yard touchdown to Adam Jennings. Harrington’s second touchdown was a 12-yard pass to RB Jerious Norwood for another TD. As for Vick, the Falcons aren’t likely to give him a second chance. The team will go through the process of trying to recoup $22 million in bonus money that they gave Vick as part of his record $130 million contract.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Heinz Field – NBC

Eagles ( 1-2-0 ) 13

Steelers ( 3-1-0 ) 27

In one of pre-season week three’s “Bragging Rights” bowls, the Steelers seemed closer to being ready for the NFL regular season than their instate rivals as they piled up 398 yards and 19 first downs on their way to a 27-13 victory. Usually the third pre-season game on team’s schedules are used to put the final touches on the team’s regular season week one game plan and if that is the case the Eagles (1-2) need to get out their tools to do some fine tuning before the September 9th opener at Green Bay. The game highlighted the two team’s different approaches in preparing for pre-season games. Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid was more focused on the regular season and that a bad pre-season is no cause for alarm. The Steelers (3-1 in pre-season) took a totally different approach with Head Coach Mike Tomlin game planning for the Eagles, which is something that most teams don’t normally do in the preseason. The planning paid off as the Steelers despite not scoring in the first quarter, looked dominant gaining 297 total yards to the Eagles 89 yards in the first half when both teams had their starters on the field. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sharp throwing for 247 yards (19 yards per catch) including a 38 yard strike to emerging TE Heath Miller and engineering three second-quarter scoring drives (a touchdown and two field goals). Steelers running back Willie Parker looked like he was ready for another Pro Bowl season rushing for 32 yards, including an electrifying 18-yard touchdown run plus he also had three receptions for 40 yards. Parker did have a bad football at the goal line and that was the kind of mistake that had Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger happy, but not overly pleased with his team’s dress rehearsal. Big Ben said of the performance “We missed a couple of things, some things could have been better, but I told some of those guys I’ll get better and I’ll be sure to hit them.”

University of Phoenix Stadium

Chargers ( 2-1-0 ) 33

Cardinals (0-3-0) 31

A game that was a shootout from the beginning ended with an anti-climatic Nate Kaeding 37-yard field goal with two seconds remaining in the game to give the Chargers a 33-31 victory over the Cardinals. The game featured strong pre-season ending performances by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who played in three quarters going for 20-of-29 for 282 yards and two touchdowns and Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin (See Game Balls). The Chargers controlled the tempo on both sides of the ball, but once the backups came in the game was sloppy. Despite the high score the game featured six combined turnovers with both teams fumbling away the ball three times.

Qwest FieldVikings ( 1-2-0 ) 13

Seahawks ( 2-1-0 ) 30

The Seahawks showed their depth and the Vikings showed that they have more work to do.  The game was never in doubt for the Seahawks and they took control for good when backup quarterback Seneca Wallace connected on an 87-yard touchdown pass to Ben Obomanu. The touchdown put the Seahawks up 23-13. Seahawks running back Sean Alexander got the through pre-season healthy which was his main objective, gaining 30 yards on eight carries and a one-yard touchdown run. Another highlight play was Seahawks cornerback Kevin Hobbs returning a Brooks Bollinger interception 39 yards for a touchdown. The Vikings had four turnovers, two interceptions by Bollinger, a fumble by quarterback Tavaris Jackson and a fumble by running back Mewelde Moore. A scary moment occurred when Vikings linebacker Cameron Siskowic was placed on a stretcher and taken off the field in an ambulance after a helmet-on-helmet collision.

Invesco Field at Mile HighBrowns ( 2-1-0 ) 17

Broncos ( 1-2-0 ) 16

This was a game that featured a stop of Broncos reserve running back Selvin Young on a two-point conversion attempt by the Browns defense that preserved a 17-16 Browns victory. The game also featured another good effort by 11-day holdout Browns quarterback Brady “Golden Boy” Quinn (7-11 for 81 yards and 1TD) and you have to think that Browns Head Coach Romeo Crennel maybe looking to start the rookie over Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson. Despite getting stuffed at the goal line on his two-point conversion, Young still came through with 91 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. The Broncos rolled up 150 yards on the ground, as they rushed 31 times for a 5.1 yard-per-carry average. Quinn may have to wait, because Browns GM Phil Savage said after the game, “It’s unrealistic for Brady to be in the mix for the opener”.

Soldier Field49ers ( 1-2-0 ) 28

Bears (3-0-0) 31

Bears inconsistent and often maligned quarterback Rex Grossman came to play and completed 13-of-20 passes for 211 yards two touchdowns. He did an interception and fumbled once (recovered), but overall he inspired his teammates. The Bears looked motivated and were performing at a regular-season pace through the first half. The 49ers did score 15 points late in garbage time, but they never really threatened. Bears WR Bernard Berrian had another solid performance as he notched three receptions for 79-yards and a touchdown including a 25-yard strike in the second quarter. RB Cedric Benson still showed that he needed work to do as he managed only 33 rushing yards on 19 attempts. San Francisco backup Trent Dilfer played the best for the upstart 49ers, completing 8-of-11 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.

Reliant Stadium

Cowboys ( 2-1-0 ) 16

Texans ( 2-1-0 ) 28

With Jacoby Jones starring (see game balls), the Texans knock off Cowboys 28-16 to claim the “Governor’s Cup”. After failing to throw for a touchdown in his first two preseason games, Matt Schaub looked good, completing 12-of-16 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo looked good throwing for 197 yards and seemed ready for the start of the regular season. Cowboys reserve receiver Sam Hurd made the most of his opportunity before cutdown day, catching four passes for 68 yards. Dallas ’ defense needs to sure up their run defense as they allowed 152 yards on the ground to the Texans. The Cowboys kicking battle seemed to be won by rookie Nick Folk as he connected on his only field goal attempt and veteran Martin Grammatica missed an extra point (wide right).

Giants Stadium Jets ( 2-1-0 ) 20

Giants ( 1-2-0 ) 12

This game was not only a territorial battle, it was a fight for control of Giants stadium by its two NFL tenants. The Jets showed why they are considered to have a better chance of making the playoffs than their neighbors, winning 20-12. Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens came in the game in the 3rd quarter and showed why he maybe pushing Chad Pennington soon for playing time with an efficient passing night of 6-8 for 122 yards with a rushing touchdown and an interception. The Giants should however be encouraged by the numbers put up by running back Brandon Jacobs, who recorded 43 yards on 11 carries. The Giants must also like what they have in Michael Strahan fill-in third-year defensive end Justin Tuck (see game balls). The play of the game was a great run after a catch on a 79-yard touchdown reception by Jets running back Leon Washington on the Jets’ first play from scrimmage. Giants quarterback Eli Manning had a solid outing, throwing 17-of-25 for 146 yards and a touchdown, but his real test will be in week one of the regular season.

FedEx FieldRavens ( 1-2-0 ) 7

Redskins ( 2-1-0 ) 13

In the battle for the Northern Virginia-DC-Baltimore area, the Redskins won a weather shortened game 13-7. The game was over when the lights went out, after the game was delayed for more than an hour initially due to lightning. The game only lasted for slightly more than a half with it being called early in the 3rd quarter. But Ravens starting quarterback Steve McNair showed that he was ready for the start of the season throwing for 14-of-19 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. The Redskins star was kicker Shaun Suisham, who converted both of his field goal attempts including one from 45 yards out in difficult conditions. The will need to work on their concentration and composure as they racked up nine penalties for 49 yards in the shortened game with most of them coming on procedure calls. Redskins rookie linebacker Dallas Sartz out of USC made a good impression in his bid to make the team, returning an interception three yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Dolphin StadiumBuccaneers ( 2-1-0 ) 31

Dolphins ( 2-1-0 ) 28

In a battle for the State of Florida , Buccaneers’ quarterback Bruce Gradkowski led a Bucs comeback victory over their Miami Dolphins hosts 31-28. The game was a high scoring affair with the Gradkowski tossing a 1-yard touchdown pass to Paris Warren in the fourth quarter to give Tampa Bay the lead for good. The touchdown pass ended a nice 12-play, 61-yard drive for the Buccaneers. Bucs receiver Joey Galloway looked like he was ready for the season by catching two passes for 39 yards, including an impressive 26-yard touchdown reception in the back of the end zone. The game featured former Auburn teammates and 2006 disappointing running backs Tampa Bay ‘s Cadillac Williams (25 yards on four attempts) and Miami ‘s Ronnie Brown (18 yards on six carries).

RCA DomeLions ( 2-1-0 ) 10

Colts ( 1-2-0 ) 37

If there was any question that the former pre-season winless Colts were ready to defend their title, this game ended them. The Colts hammer the out-manned Lions 37-10 for their first win of the pre-season. The Lions were missing several players including most of their quarterbacks and it showed as they couldn’t muster anything against the Colts defense. On the other hand, the Colts were clicking on all cylinders as they opened up their aerial attack with quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Jim Sorgi combining for 404 passing yards and five touchdowns. Five different Colts receivers had touchdown receptions including Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Craphonso Thorpe, Dallas Clark and Aaron Moorehead. The Lions only quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan worked hard in the game, completing 24-of-34 passes for 232 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Friday, August 24, 2007

McAfee Coliseum

Rams ( 1-2-0 ) 10

Raiders ( 2-1-0 ) 20

Daunte Culpepper, who won one of my game balls last week again showed that he should be the Raiders starting quarterback. He threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ronald Curry and looked sharp in his first preseason start, leading the Raiders to a 20-10 victory. “I feel like I have a lot to offer a club,” Culpepper said. “I feel like I’m a starter, but at the same time I have to do what’s best for the team.” The Raiders (2-1) seem to be ready to give Culpepper the go ahead, but Raiders Head Coach Lane Kiffin said that he needed to see the game tape from Friday and see Josh McCown start on Thursday. The Rams (1-2) again gave most of their playmakers the night off as running back Steven Jackson and receiver Torry Holt didn’t do much (Jackson played only one play for the second straight week and Holt sat the entire game). Rookie Brian Leonard (6 carries for 20 yards) impressed again at running back in the first half and he had the highlight of the game by hurdling Raiders cornerback Fabian Washington on a 15-yard run. In the game the Raiders went for it six times on fourth down, converting four.

Bank of America

Patriots ( 1-2-0 ) 24

Panthers ( 1-2-0 ) 7

After going to California to witness the birth of his son, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady showed why he is the “Big Daddy” of the NFL. Brady and the Patriots were nearly flawless in dominating the Carolina Panthers 24-7. Brady completed 17 of 21 passes for 167 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in helping the Patriots (1-2) pick up their first win of the pre-season. Brady threw touchdown passes of 6 yards to Marcellus Rivers and 8 yards to Heath Evans, before leaving with a 17-7 lead. For the Panthers, the game featured the return often injured linebacker Dan Morgan from multiple concussions. Morgan’s return didn’t overshadow another dismal performance by Carolina ‘s offense or their shaky secondary. Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme looked better going 11-of-18 for 162 yards and a touchdown and seemed to solidify himself as the team’s quarterback over David Carr for now. The game also marked the return of running back Laurence Maroney from off-season shoulder surgery. Maroney carried the ball on New England ‘s first seven plays and finished with 15 carries for 58 yards. In case you were wondering Patriots receiver Randy Moss did not play again as he as been out since Aug. 1 with a leg injury. The Patriots did drag veteran 43-year-old quarterback Vinny Testaverde out of moth balls, but he was 0-of-2 passing.

Ralph Wilson Stadium

Titans ( 2-1-0 ) 28

Bills ( 1-2-0 ) 17

In a game of two mid-level AFC team, quarterback Vince Young led the Titans to a 28-17 win over the Bills in Buffalo . Before Young left the field at halftime, he showed why he was the rookie of the year in 2006. In two quarters, Young completed 13-of-19 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown to Bo Scaife, plus another touchdown rushing. I believe Titans running back LenDale White solidified his spot as their number one running back carrying the ball 11 times for 51 yards helping the Titans grind out 127 yards on the ground. The Titans bottled up the Bills for the first half, with the Bills receivers as their bright spot (204 yards on 10 catches). Bills quarterback J.P. Losman looked tentative again going 9-of-20 for 180 yards and one interception. The game was full of penalties as the Titans were penalized 10 times for 75 yards and the Bills were flagged 6 times for 55 yards.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Arrowhead Stadium

Saints ( 2-2-0 ) 30

Chiefs (0-3-0) 7

This game was over before it started as the Saints destroyed the Chiefs in their house 30-7. The game played in front of HBO Hard Knocks cameras, featured Kansas punting on four consecutive possessions to start the game. The Saints were the total opposite, taking control of the game early behind Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees (17-19, 182) and building a lead that grew to 30-0. The game would have ended at that score, but the Chiefs scored a meaningless touchdown with less than two minutes. Chiefs starting quarterback Brodie Croyle probably played himself out of the starting job, going for only 5-of-17 passes for 45 yards and an interception Saints rookie running back Pierre Thomas impressed rushing for 90 yards on 11 carries and scoring two touchdowns. The Chiefs did have bright spot from the soon to be suspended defensive end Jared Allen, who had four tackles, one sack and an interception.

Lambeau Field

Jaguars ( 2-1-0 ) 21

Packers ( 2-1-0 ) 13

In a game that probably sealed the Jaguars starting quarterback job for David Garrard, the Jags traveled to Green Bay and won 21-13. Garrard was efficient completing 6-7 passes for 97 yards and one touchdown. He led the Jags backups to two scores, after their first unit was shut out with Byron Leftwich at the helm. Packers quarterback Brett Favre again showed that at age 37, he is not done completing 14-of-20 passes for 130 yards in limited action (No turnovers in the pre-season). However Favre did lose his number one target, Donald Driver as the Packers receiver left with a bad foot injury in the first half. Jaguars linebacker Tony Gilbert came to play, having six tackles and one sack.

Lloyd’s LeftoversHuard named Chiefs’ starting QB – Damon Huard, who has spent his career backing up some of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, is finally first string. Coach Herm Edwards said on Saturday that the 11-year veteran will start for the Kansas City Chiefs. Huard went 5-3 last season as a starter in 2006 after Trent Green was injured in the season opener. Huard spent the summer battling the second-year player Brodie Croyle for the job and Croyle apparently played himself out of contention by throwing an interception in each of three preseason games. Huard threw for throwing for 1,684 yards with 11 touchdowns and only one interception for a 98.0 quarterback rating in 2006.

QB Kelly Holcomb Goes to Eagles ” Midwest – QB Kelly Holcomb Traded to the Minnesota Vikings for an undisclosed draft pick in 2009

Ex-Colts DT Simon signs with Titans – Defensive tackle Corey Simon agreed to terms Tuesday with the Tennessee Titans and will try to resume his career after not playing in 2006. Simon had been released by Indianapolis on Aug. 4 after he failed his physical with the Colts at the start of training camp. He had arthroscopic knee surgery but was placed on the non-football illness-injury list Oct. 5 with an undisclosed ailment a year after signing a five-year, $30 million contract. He was the sixth pick overall in 2000 by the Philadelphia Eagles and a Pro Bowler in 2003. If healthy, he could help a defense that ranked 30th in the NFL against the run last season, giving up 144.6 yards per game.

The “Turk” comes calling – First cuts (75 players) were on Tuesday August 28th and some notable cuts and roster moves were: Cut RB Kevan Barlow (Pitt), Cut QB Drew Henson (Vikings), Cut Former WVU QB WR Rasheed Marshall (Rams), Cut QB Ingle Marin (Packers), Former Eagles 1st Rd pick DE Jerome McDougle (I/R), Cut Former Redskins 1st Rd Draft Pick WR Rod Gardner (KC), Lions placed S Daniel Bullocks (I\R), Cut TE Jermaine Wiggins (Jags), Broncos Warrick Holdman (LB) Placed on IR (spinal cord contusion),Cut Former Atlanta Falcons WR Tim Dwight (NYJ), Cut Jonathan Ogden’s brother OT Marques Ogden (Titans), and Cut Former Eagles WR Todd Pinkston (Redskins). Next roster cuts will be on September 1st when teams have to get to 53 players.

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