Ravens 17, Panthers 13
Joe Flacco showed a little of the game he had last year with a 247 yard, 1 touchdown performance, but it was Ray Rice’s 8 catches for 67 yards that stood out. Unfortunately, so did his 10 carries for 32 yards which wasn’t all that scintillating. Willis McGahee keeps hanging around and had a touchdown to go with his 6 carries for 16 yards. Jalen Parmele looked outstanding with his 4 carries for 68 yards but it’s hard to know where he’ll fit in here.
The two players who stood out to me for the Panthers were rookie running back Mike Goodson and Muhsin Muhammad. Goodson has had an outstanding preseason and if second year running back Jonathan Stewert can’t stay healthy, Goodson will get a shot and produce. Muhammad is a guy who is often overlooked because of his age, but there’s nobody else worth looking at in this wide receiver corps not named Steve Smith. Muhammad plays well and looks god for his age, continuing to defy his critics.
Jets 27, Giants 25
Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez looked much more comfortable against a solid Giants defense than he did against the Ravens. It’s not a shock – this is how he developed at USC last season. The play everyone has been talking about took place when Sanchez saw the Giants blitzing, scrambled out of the pocket and connected with Chansi Stuckey on a 31 yard pass – all while three defenders were breathing down his neck. Stuckey turned it into a TD and Sanchez took a step forward in his development.
Meanwhile, Thomas Jones is looking rough out there especially next to Leon Washington. I thought Jones had another season left in him. That may not be the case and Shonn Greene – when he returns and is healthy – might steal his job by the end of 2009.
On the other side of the field, the Giants really could use some wide receiver help, with just about every player thrown to dropping at least one pass. Steve Smith dropped an easy touchdown. Mario Manningham dropped several. On the plus side, David Carr found rookie Hakeem Nicks for a pair of touchdowns and you can’t imagine seeing Nicks with the second stringers again this preseason. Eli Manning could use the help, after all.
49ers 20, Cowboys 13
The story of the weekend was injured wide receiver Roy Williams who sat out with a shoulder injury which I believe happened when he leapt to catch a ball and ran into the low-hanging video board. Regardless, quarterback Tony Romo played well overall but struggled a bit, adding an interception to his 11/17, 125 yard effort. He could use more reps to get his timing down with his top wide receiver, so the Cowboys could use Williams back sooner than later. The only other note was Tashard Choice stood out with the backups, compiling 55 yards on 8 carries.
The 49ers continue to improve overall, though Shaun Hill has a ways to go before he’s really solid at the quarterback spot. Rookie Nate Davis is someone I still say could be the future of the franchise and he looked very good, completing 10/15 for 132 yards. Davis also has some way to go before being ready for Prime Time, but could be an interesting developing player.
We’ve been talking about Glen Coffee at running back, but don’t forget fellow rookie Kory Sheets. Sheets looked solid with 11 carries for 42 yards a pair of touchdowns. The Niners will run a ton with Gore and likely Coffee. If Sheets continues to play hard, he’ll find a way to get a few carries in there and I think produce. If someone gets hurt, Sheets will get those carries.
Falcons 27, Chargers 24
Both teams looked ready for the season and the Chargers especially look like the far-and-away favorites to win the AFC West. Quarterback Philip Rivers threw for a nice 185 yards and led scoring drives on two of his three possessions. Rookie Gartrell Johnson put together a nice 77 total yards and journeyman Michael Bennett – of all people – had over 100 total yards, including 3 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates watched from the sidelines but that didn’t hurt this offense one bit.
On the other side of the field, second year quarterback Matt Ryan is still looking like he just picked up from where he left off last season. His 14/20, 140 yard effort included a 12 yard touchdown toss to Brian Finneran.
Running back Michael Turner also looked rock solid with 47 yards on 12 carries. The only downside was running back Jerious Norwood’s knee injury, though that is believed to be day-to-day and not serious according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Seahawks 14, Chiefs 10
It just goes from bad to even more bad with the Chiefs. Sure, they lost the game but the bigger loss might be quarterback Matt Cassel. Cassel was lost almost right away, dragged down by Defensive Tackle Brandon Mebane from behind.
Profootballtalk.com and Yahoo Sports both report Cassel has a MCL injury and might miss Week 1. Of course, the Chiefs aren’t forthcoming with the injury information but that’s not shocking – it’s another ‘New England satellite franchise’ so what do we expect? They’re like Starbucks – they are everywhere.
Matt Hasselbeck looked good for the Seahawks, completing 19/25 for 216 yards and two touchdowns, one to second year tight end John Carlson (5-68-1) and one to new addition TJ Houshmandzadeh (5-60-1).
With Edgerrin James not yet playing, Julius Jones took the Lion’s share of the carries and carried the rock fifteen times for 57 yards. The Seahawks say they will keep using him as the primary back, Edge or not, so until I see different, James’ impact is still an unknown quantity.
Bears 27 Broncos 17
In the Battle of Egos, former Bronco and current Bears quarterback Jay Cutler seems to have one over on his old team. Cutler put together a nice little 15/21, 144 yard performance with a touchdown to Matt Forte to cap it off. Cutler pumped his fist in celebration after that touchdown so, call me crazy I think he wanted this one bad. Matt Forte looked good in limited action. While his yards per carry was low (2.33 after 9 carries for 21 yards) he scored twice, once on the ground and once in the air. He totaled four catches for 11 yards so it could be Cutler will utilize him more in the pass game than anticipated.
If that’s the case, his fantasy stock might actually manage to rise past Maurice Jones-Drew and challenge Adrian Peterson. Hard to imagine he’ll have 60 catches again, but 40? Not far-fetched.
Kyle Orton (12/16, 96 yards) didn’t look bad – he just didn’t look like Cutler. But he found Eddie Royal (5/44) often enough. Peyton Hillis continues to look good on the ground where he carried the ball 7 times for 27 yards and a touchdown as well as in the pass game where he caught a pair of balls for 21 yards.
Rookie Kenny McKinley (3/76) also looked good but his biggest problem (as I talked about with Frank Schwab of the Colorado Springs Gazette last on Wednesday’s Thundering Blurb show) is inconsistency. McKinley still has some work to do, but could emerge in a year or so as a real player, especially if Brandon Marshall stays petulant and ends up leaving Denver.