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NFL Preseason: Tony Romo goes full Romo; Eli Manning's game a red flag

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Tony Romo went Full Romo Saturday.
Tony Romo went Full Romo Saturday. (USATSI)

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Picking on Tony Romo could be considered low-hanging fruit, but whatever. He went full Romo on Saturday night and it deserves our attention.

"Full Romo" is both a compliment and insult, by the way.

There was the ability to throw the ball down the field and maximize his best weapon, Dez Bryant. It resulted in a long touchdown where Romo moved nicely in the pocket and (not quite as nicely) heaved the ball down the field. But still, touchdown.

Romo was largely good in his first action since back surgery near the end of 2013. He went 4 for 5 for 80 yards and the score to Dez above. He moved around in the pocket well and generally appeared to be ready for the regular season.

There was this one perfectly Romo moment in the first quarter though. Attempting a handoff to DeMarco Murray on what appeared to be a read-option play -- and why are we having a lynchpin starting quarterback coming off back surgery attempt that? -- which resulted in a fumbled snap and a Ravens teeter.

Look, it wouldn't be Romo if you weren't getting a little bit of DERP along the way. The Cowboys'offense will be fine if he's this far recovered. The bigger concern is whether they can outscore teams enough on a weekly basis to give the Cowboys a chance at finally toppling .500.

The odds are against them.

More takeaways from Saturday night's action:

2. The Giants Have 99 Problems and Eli Is All of Them
It's panic time in the Big Apple when it comes to quarterbacking ... and we're not talking about the Jets. Eli Manning and the Giants played their third preseason game on Saturday night and they weren't stifled by the Colts because stifling would involve the Colts needing to do anything other than stand by and watch the Giants offense flop around on the floor like a dead fish.

Manning finished 1 for 7 for 6 yards and no that is not a typo.

It's somehow not even better than his last outing, when he went 0 for 2. Perhaps this is all an elaborate prank from Ben McAdoo and Tom Coughlin, some weird sort of quarterback Catfish thing. Or maybe this offense isn't working.

IMPORTANT: It's the preseason. It could be a prank. None of this counts or matters in any way. But they were terrible on a night when the first-team offense is supposed to thrive.

It's not some red flag. It's a gigantic red flag. Like sunburnt Vladimir Putin-wearing-flannel while waving the Russian flag warning gigantic.

3. Green Bay's Dialed
On the other hand, you have the Packers. Aaron Rodgers was borderline NSFW with his performance against the Rams on Saturday afternoon. The Packers "only" scored 10 points with Rodgers under center, but it should've been 14; a penalty negated a second touchdown pass from Rodgers.

The whole offense is straight rolling if you believe what we saw in St. Louis. Rodgers has his foot on the gas courtesy of a full no-huddle offense. Eddie Lacy is catching passes (an emphasis this year), the line looks healthy and ready to press the tempo and the trio of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin is perfectly setup to do what the Packers want.

Look out if they stay healthy all year.

4. Atlanta Line Concerns
Let's not even worry about the defense for Atlanta yet, even though it could be a problem. (Or they could be chock-full of dudes who are all going to make a massive leap in 2014. Who knows??) Let's worry about the offensive line instead.

Specifically, the injury to Sam Baker. If Baker, who was carted off with a knee injury on Saturday night, is fine, ignore this for now, I guess. If he's dealing with an injury that keeps him out for a while? Press the panic button.

Baker's a good, not great, player. But like any starting left tackle in the game, his injury creates a trickle-down effect that hurts a team in a serious, serious way. Jake Matthews is a technician, but he's also a rookie. If Baker misses time he's kicking to the left. Maybe it's a better spot for him over the long haul (or even now; it might be) but it leaves a void on the right side.

You leave voids and suddenly someone like Jadeveon Clowney is unblocked and bad things are happening to perfectly nice people.

Baker was actually in on that play (it was a blown pull, not his fault). However, the point remains the same: Matt Ryan must have time to let Roddy White and Julio Jones get deep.

Not giving up on the Falcons or anything but the Spidey Sense should be blaring right now.

5. Sammy Watkins Hurt
The logical assumption is Sammy Watkins will improve the Bills' offense. It's true. If he plays he will make them better. I think he'll play. But it's easy to forget just how quickly key players in the NFL can go down.

Watkins suffered an injury after Cortez Allen and Ryan Shazier banged up his ribs Saturday night.

Again: not saying the Bills' offense can't step up and finally get rolling this year, but what happens if Watkins goes down? Suddenly this is the same offense from last year.

6. Teddy Take Two
No doubt everyone wants Teddy Bridgewater to succeed right? The whole draft process was unfair for him and it's hard to find anyone rooting against the kid. There were very few people praising Bridgewater after his first preseason game, but that will change after Saturday.

Bridgewater was a completely different quarterback against the Cardinals. He was decisive, confident and operating in a much more wide-open offense from Norv Turner.

Teddy finished 16 of 20 for 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he could've been even more efficient if Adam Thielen hadn't dropped an easy touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Did Bridgewater steal the show from Matt Cassel? Yes. Did he steal the job? Noooo. But he certainly warranted a Prisco-ism piece of advice for Minnesota.

It just depends on where you are if you're Minnesota. The Vikings probably think they're going to win "now" and you don't want the rookie playing. It's a weird balance because fans want to win but they want to see the rookie.

Here's the good news: Cassel's playing well in Norv's system and can play early. Bridgewater is progressing and can play late. It's not a win-win thing but it's not a lose-lose either.

7. Sam's First Sack
No clue if you saw it or not, but Rams defensive lineman Michael Sam recorded his first sack. Historical? Sure! Seriously though: this was a very nice move against a high pick by the Packers (Derek Sherrod) and it resulted in Matt Flynn getting stuffed into the turf. Sam can play. He might not make the roster because the Rams are so deep. But he can play.

8. FROM DEEP
Awesome kickoff returns are incredibly underrated plays. This is Deonte Thompson taking one 108 yards.

9. Ray Rice Hurt
X-Rays were negative for Rice, which is a good thing, but the Ravens' starting running back (after the first two weeks, we think) isn't exactly in good shape to dominate in 2014. He's out two games for his highly publicized suspension, he's dealing with an injury now and he's not as good a fit for Gary Kubiak's scheme as Bernard Pierce.

Pierce, by the way, had 55 yards on seven carries. Granted it was against the Cowboys defense, but still. Things are not coming up Rice.

10. Andy Dalton's Big Day
He went 8-for-8 and was dialed in with A.J. Green. Dalton's also got this whole red goatee thing going, which is terrifying in a "he might be full YOLO" way. Mainly though, we might all be overlooking the notion of Dalton progressing at this point. We assume he has a ceiling, but he's a playoff win away from being the next "needs to make the Super Bowl" guy.

Seriously. That's how it works. We push the goals further and further until someone actually wins and then we might leave them alone.

Bigger point here is Dalton's dealing with a new offensive coordinator and Hue Jackson's had plenty of success. Don't rule out Dalton improving after the Bengals paid him.

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