Week Two of the NFL preseason kicked off last night and with just three games in the books, we’ve already seen more injuries. It is a difficult reminder of the downside of both the NFL as a whole and fantasy football. Here is a full recap of Thursday’s action, along with other news from around the league.
Patriots 37, Eagles 20
The Patriots came in motivated as they faced off with the team that defeated them in the Super Bowl just a few months ago and the outcome, while not nearly as important, had to be encouraging for the Pats. New England was sharp on both offense and defense in the early going, beginning by holding Philly to a three-and-out and then putting together a quick scoring drive that ended with a touchdown connection between QB Tom Brady and WR Chris Hogan. Both Pats and many other members of the first-team played the entire first-half. Brady led four scoring drives in the first-half as the Pats led 27-7 at the break. The future Hall-of-Famer finished with 172 passing yards and two passing scores. Hogan caught five of his seven targets for just 25 yards and the aforementioned touchdown.
With RB Rex Burkhead sitting out, underrated RB James White kept busy, rushing four times for 31 yards and leading the team with a 6/61/1 receiving line. With both Burkhead and rookie Sony Michel out of action, White is a major value in all fantasy formats.
Eagles young star QB Carson Wentz sat out, as expected but the Eagles seemingly dodged another bullet. A second-quarter strip-sack of Super Bowl MVP QB Nick Foles gave the Pats another score and sent Foles to the locker room to be evaluated for a shoulder injury, which was later reported as a shoulder strain. Early reports suggest this injury is not serious. If there is a silver lining to be found, third-string QB Nate Sudfeld played well in relief of Foles, throwing for 312 yards and three scores as he attempted to bring the Eagles back. Philadelphia rookie TE Dallas Goedert was a factor, catching three passes for 57 yards and nearly hauling in a touchdown before an excellent defensive play knocked the ball away. As others have mentioned, if starting TE Zach Ertz misses any time, Goedert would be a factor.
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Redskins 15, Jets 13
A back and forth field goal battle between the Jets and Redskins was finally snapped when Jets backup QB Teddy Bridgewater threw a bullet pass that WR Charone Peake went up and hauled down for an excellent touchdown pass. A red zone stop late in the fourth-quarter would limit the Jets to just a field goal, which allowed the Redskins all they needed to put together a game-winning drive, kicking the field goal to take the lead as time expired.
The Jets signal callers were the story of the night. After an impressive debut a week ago, rookie QB Sam Darnold drew the start, but was not nearly as sharp, throwing a bad interception inside the red zone and finishing with just 62 passing yards despite playing the entire first-half. Bridgewater meanwhile, excelled, throwing for 127 yards and the score, though he also let one get away from him and couldn’t finish off the drive late in the final quarter that could’ve secured the game. The QB battle will continue but the overwhelming expectation is that Darnold will win the job while Bridgewater will land with another team.
RB Isaiah Crowell sat out after suffering a concussion last week, but veteran RB Bilal Powell looked as impressive as ever, totaling 37 yards on eight touches. Regardless of Crowell’s health, we can expect Powell to be a factor in the pass-game.
The Redskins, who lost starting RB Derrius Guice to a torn ACL last week, saw another back leave the game with an injury. After just one carry, an impressive 30-yarder, second-year RB Samaje Perine suffered a sprained ankle, ending his night. This is obviously an injury this team can’t handle right now, with Guice and pass-catching RB Chris Thompson already injured. The Skins might have to look to add another back to the roster. Kelley ran seven times for 17 yards and added a catch for 13 yards.
Packers 51, Steelers 34
This game was everything you might want and expect from a preseason contest. Not only was it a high-scoring affair, but it was young, relatively unproven players doing most of the work. Leading by 20 at halftime, the Packers had this wrapped up early, but that didn’t dampen the excitement of the second-frame. The only real bad news came in the form of an injury to Packers RB Jamaal Williams, who left the game with an ankle injury. The severity of the injury is not yet known, but with fellow second-year RB Aaron Jones set to serve a suspension to begin the season, Green Bay has little depth. Former WR Ty Montgomery is the next man up. He totaled 23 yards on six touches.
WR Jake Kumerow continues to demand a roster spot with his play and this time, he led the team with three grabs for 114 yards, including a long 82-yard touchdown. Steelers star RB Le’Veon Bell continues to stay away from camp, but his young backups both played well and both found the end zone in this one. RB James Conner, who has drawn consistent positive buzz from camp gained 57 yards on five carries, while rookie Jaylen Samuels totaled 51 yards for the night. Perhaps the biggest news for the Steelers was the second-half play of rookie WR James Washington, who caught a pair of touchdowns, ripping the ball away from the defender on his first grab. He posted a 5/114/2 line and was a game-winner for those that plugged him into DFS lineups.
All of these young, high-upside players almost made me forget the stars. WR Juju Smith-Schuster caught his second touchdown of the preseason, while TE Jimmy Graham caught his first of what could be many scores from QB Aaron Rodgers, making his 2018 debut.
Saints DE Alex Okafor suffered a sprained ankle and bone bruise at practice, but this is actually good news as it originally looked like the defender, coming off a torn Achilles last season, had suffered a serious injury. He should miss a couple of weeks…Giants rookie RB Saquon Barkley (hamstring) missed practice once again on Thursday…Patriots RB Rex Burkhead sat out the team’s second preseason game with what beat writer Jeff Howe calls a minor injury…Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has cleared concussion protocol after he took a shot to the head earlier in the week. The starter sat out Thursday’s preseason game…Chargers DL Joey Bosa remains out with a foot injury and will not play in this weekend’s game…Patriots WR Kenny Britt remained sidelined with a hamstring injury. He is not a lock to make the final 53-man roster…Titans TE Delanie Walker suffered what was called a “lower body injury” at Thursday’s practice. This is a story to watch, but it would be a surprise if Walker suited up for the team’s game this weekend.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott suggests that he is “starting to click” with his revamped receiving corps. After parting ways with veteran WR Dez Bryant, Dallas added Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin and rookie Michael Gallup…Despite his ho-hum performance Thursday night, Jets beat writer Manish Mehta believes “it’s be an upset” is rookie QB Sam Darnold is not the Week One starter…With RB Marlon Mack (hamstring) on the shelf, the Colts have been rotating their first-team reps and on Thursday, it was rookie Jordan Wilkins turn. Wilkins has drawn consistent praise throughout camp and should be considered the favorite to start until Mack is healthy…Not only did WR Chris Hogan catch the Patriots first touchdown of the night, but reports say he and the team are engaged in contract extension talks, though it is still early in the process…Free agent WR Dez Bryant visited the Cleveland Browns and despite much speculation, the day came to a close without a contract agreement. Bryant’s visit coincided with a separate report that the Browns still expect WR Josh Gordon to return for the 2018 season. This is not exactly a positive report and it still seems that no one knows exactly where Gordon stands…Raiders star LB Khalil Mack has yet to report to the team and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that there is “no end in sight. It is now a real possibility that Mack misses regular season action as part of this contract dispute.
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