Nineteen takeaways from NFL preseason finales
- By Gregg Rosenthal
- Around The League Editor
- Published: Aug. 30, 2013 at 01:31 a.m.
- Updated: Aug. 30, 2013 at 02:55 a.m.
The best day of the preseason is always the last one. It's finally over.
Starters barely stepped on the field during the 16 games Thursday night, but we still got an interesting snapshot of four quarterbacks who are at very different stages of their development.
Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan confirmed that Robert Griffin III finally was cleared for game action. One of the game's brightest stars won't miss a regular-season contest nearly eight months after he tore his ACL.
Tim Tebow once was a cultural phenomenon like RGIII, but now the former Heisman Trophy winner is just trying to keep his career alive. Tebow's latest performance for the New England Patriots probably didn't help his case.
Tebow had his chance to be a starting quarterback. Terrelle Pryor is trying to earn his. His 3-of-8 outing in the Oakland Raiders' preseason finale wasn't a convincing closing statement, although he again made big plays with his legs.
Perhaps the most noteworthy nugget came from NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, who reported before the games even started that Mark Sanchez isn't expected to be ready to start in the season opener. That means rookie Geno Smith should be the New York Jets' starting quarterback.
A month of positioning is done. Guys like Tebow have to sweat out roster cuts, while guys like Pryor wait to find out if they're starting. The best part: The waiting is almost over.
Here's what else we learned Thursday night:
1. New York Giants running back Andre Brown fractured his leg against the Patriots, another big setback in a career full of them. Brown downplayed the injury after the game; it's unclear how long he will be out.
Meanwhile, Giants starter David Wilson capped an impressive preseason with 37 yards on six carries. He finished the preseason with 179 yards on 24 carries (7.46 yards per carry). Wilson's workload only will increase.
2. Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard scored his third 1-yard touchdown of the preseason. The Bengals aren't afraid to use the diminutive runner at the goal line.
3. New York Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson played a lot -- a sign that he's falling down the depth chart or is a potential trade candidate.
4. The Denver Broncos started Ronnie Hillman at running back. That's coach John Fox making a statement of support.
5. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Tramon Williams all returned to action for the Green Bay Packers, although they only had cameo appearances.
6. St. Louis Rams running back Isaiah Pead fumbled a punt. It's been a rough month for him.
7. San Diego Chargers offensive tackle Max Starks surrendered three sacks in the first half.
8. Ted Ginn went nuts with five catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns in the first half for the Carolina Panthers. This means nothing, even if he thinks otherwise.
9. Chicago Bears left tackle J'Marcus Webb didn't get on the field until the start of the fourth quarter. His quick fall from grace is almost complete. He'll likely be released.
10. Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles completed just 6 of 17 passes for 63 yards.
11. Jets "starting" quarterback Matt Simms threw 44 passes for 285 yards and showed some toughness in getting up from six first-half sacks. He probably has won the team's No. 3 job over Greg McElroy.
12. Matt Leinart's Bills cameo went as well as you'd expected after he only practiced in Buffalo for a few days. He went 3-of-10 passing for 11 yards with two interceptions. Injured rookie EJ Manuel was seen throwing on the field before the game.
13. Matthew Stafford was one of the rare starting quarterbacks to play a couple of series in his team's preseason finale. His lackluster preseason continued, as he completed only 1 of 6 passes for the Detroit Lions. Coach Jim Schwartz probably wanted Stafford to get more work because he has looked poor.
14. Running backs Joique Bell and Mikel Leshoure rotated with Lions starters, but it appears Bell has won the team's backup job. Pro Football Focus noted Bell gained 36 of his 52 yards after contact last week against the Patriots. His best run Thursday was a 23-yard touchdown dart that gave the Lions a 21-0 lead. Leshoure probably is safe for a roster spot, but he isn't a help on special teams and hasn't separated himself this summer.
15. Bills rookie wide receiver Marquise Goodwin left the field under his own power in the second quarter against the Lions, looking a little groggy.
16. Bears wide receiver Joe Anderson might have sealed a roster spot after hauling in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Palmer and breaking a tackle on a 37-yard pickup in the second quarter. With Earl Bennett reportedly on the trade block, Anderson is making the most of his opportunity.
17. Despite the early camp hype, Thursday marked another ugly night for third-year Ravens cornerback Chykie Brown, who has struggled all preseason.
18. Arizona Cardinals running back Ryan Williams rushed for just 25 yards on nine carries, although coach Bruce Arians praised him after the game.