The third night of preseason action gave us our first look at Cam Newton and Jake Locker, but was highlighted by a surprising performance from Colt McCoy and the Browns. We take a game-by-game look at Saturday night’s action.
Browns 27, Packers 17
Most expected Colt McCoy and the Browns to struggle tonight. After all, they’re installing a new offense under Head Coach Pat Shurmur and were playing the defending champion Green Bay Packers.
Somebody forgot to tell the Browns that.
McCoy was stellar, going 9-for-10 for 135 yards and a touchdown pass to Josh Cribbs. The line is great, but it doesn’t do even do him justice. McCoy looked to be in complete control of the offense and it looks to be suited precisely for his skill set. While it’s way too early to start moving him up the rankings, it’s clear that McCoy looked like a completely different player tonight.
We also got our first peek at Greg Little, who finished with 20 yards on two catches. Fellow rookie Armond Smith played well, finishing with 41 yards on ten carries. He merits watching as the preseason rolls on.
For the Packers, it was business as usual. Aaron Rodgers capped off their second drive with a scoring strike to Greg Jennings. Their offense looked explosive as ever. There were three things that stood out in this game.
First of all, the Packer running back rotation looks like a mess. Ryan Grant started, but James Starks was inserted in the second series before giving way to Grant yet again. We know Starks will be involved, but how much is still a mystery.
Second, Randall Cobb has skills. The rookie finished with three catches for 60 yards. He’s buried on the depth chart for now, but he absolutely has the “it” factor and looks ready to contribute when called upon. He’s certainly worth a rookie pick in a dynasty league.
Finally, Matt Flynn is going to be a starter somewhere as soon as next season. He shows accuracy, poise and control in the pocket. The Packers aren’t likely to keep him and he’s likely going to be a consolation prize for a team who loses out in the Andrew Luck derby. We have him ranked as the 32nd best quarterback in the Dynasty Essentials Guide and see no reason not to stand by that.
Panthers 20, Giants 10
Cam Newton made his debut and showed some of why he was the number one overall pick. He finished the night going 8-for-19 for 134 yards. He had a few nice strikes during the game and didn’t look uncomfortable in the pocket – that in itself is a victory for a rookie quarterback.
Jimmy Clausen started for the Panthers and had an up and down night with a touchdown pass to Greg Olsen and a pick six thrown to Michael Boley. Unfortunately, it’s just a matter of time until he’s watching from the sidelines.
The Giants looked awful. Eli Manning played into the second quarter and finished just 4-for-9 for 36 yards. Domenik Hixon played well in his battle for the third receiver spot, catching five balls for 86 yards. That battle with Victor Cruz and others is far from over, though.
Bears 10, Bills 3
This game was tough to watch.
There weren’t any notable performance, other than Marion Barber looking sharp and rushing for 45 yards on seven carries. One thing is very apparent after watching this game – the Bears offensive line is a serious problem. Shawne Merriman even had three tackles and two sacks against them. That needs to change quickly or Jay Cutler is going to get rocked again this year.
Donald Jones started for the Bills at wide receiver and promptly caught no passes. The second wide receiver position is very much up for grabs. The Bills offense looked pretty putrid in general and they have a lot of work to do.
Rams 33, Colts 10
St. Louis got a nice performance from Sam Bradford and company. The MVP of the night for the Rams had to be rookie tight end Lance Kendricks who caught five passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. He should be rostered in each and every league at this point. Mike Sims-Walker suffered a groin injury and had to leave the game. That’s just what the Rams don’t need, but is it really that surprising?
For the Colts, there weren’t too many notable performances. Former Virginia Tech Hokie Darren Evans played well late and finished with 52 yards on eight carries. He’s likely headed for the practice squad, but worth keeping an eye on. Taj Smith caught a 44 yard touchdown and seems to make a play whenever he’s inserted into a game. Like Evans, he’s worth keeping tabs on.
Titans 14, Vikings 3
Matt Hasselbeck has reportedly struggled in training camp, but proved he’s a gamer by finishing the contest going 5-for-6 for 55 yards on one series. The real bright spot for the Titans had to be the play of rookie quarterback Jake Locker, who showed surprising accuracy and finished the night going 7-for-10 for 89 yards, including a 45 yard touchdown pass to Yamon Figurs. While you can’t read too much into one game, Locker looked very poised and comfortable in the pocket. Much like Newton, that’s a very good sign.
The Vikings didn’t have too many notable performances. Donovan McNabb finished his debut going 6-for-11 for 40 yards. That wasn’t enough to convince many people his skills haven’t deteriorated, but it’s way too early to accurately judge what this offense can do. Christian Ponder didn’t look lost and finished with 84 yards on 8-for-13 passing, though he did get sacked three times.
Next week will bring us even more action and we’ll be here to break it all down!
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