Week 2 of the NFL preseason continued Sunday, when the Steelers hosted the Falcons and the Chargers hosted the Saints. Both games came down to the wire, with the Steelers and Saints coming away with wins. Below, you'll find everything important that happened during those games and updates from earlier this week.
Scores and schedule
Eagles 20, Bills 16 (box score)
Ravens 31, Dolphins 7 (box score)
Buccaneers 12, Jaguars 8 (box score)
Seahawks 20, Vikings 13 (box score)
Titans 34, Panthers 27 (box score)
Chiefs 30, Bengals 12 (Box score)
Cowboys 24, Colts 19 (Box score)
Lions 16, Jets 6 (box score)
Packers 21, Redskins 17 (Box score)
Texans 27, Patriots 23 (Box Score)
Broncos 33, 49ers 14 (Box score)
Rams 24, Raiders 21 (Box score)
Bears 24, Cardinals 23 (Box score)
Steelers 17, Falcons 13 (Box score)
Saints 13, Chargers 7 (Box score)
Giants at Browns, 8 p.m. Mon. (GameTracker)
Alvin Kamara is off and running
So much for the possible duel between former Chargers QBs Philip Rivers and Drew Brees in Los Angeles on Sunday. The Saints and Chargers both started their backups with Saints rookie running back Alvin Kamara stealing the spotlight early.
After the Chargers went three and out on their first drive, the Saints took over at midfield and Kamara took a handoff from Chase Daniel off left tackle and took it to the house. Here's a look.
That's a nice start for the rookie, who is battling for reps in a crowded Saints backfield that features Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram. If Kamara can keep making runs like that, expect him to keep getting snaps.
Kamara wound up with 61 yards on five carries.
James Conner impresses
With their third-round selection in this year's draft, the Steelers took James Conner out of Pitt. It was a feel-good moment for the running back, given Conner battled and beat cancer during his successful college career.
Another feel-good moment happened on Sunday when Conner made an impressive preseason debut. Against the Falcons, Conner rushed for 98 yards on 20 carries, which means he averaged 4.9 yards per carry.
On a scoring drive in the fourth quarter, Conner broke free at multiple points. Here he is picking up 17 yards:
And here he is going for 20 yards:
Conner won't ever be the featured back in Pittsburgh as long as Le'Veon Bell is still in town, but he looks like a capable backup. Who knows, given how Bell's contract situation is going, maybe in a year or two Conner can claim the starting job.
Trey Williams makes a strong impression
The Steelers' backfield is a particularly crowded one. Le'Veon Bell is the clear starter. James Conner is a third-round pick. Fitzgerald Toussaint has been around for a couple seasons. So, if Trey Williams is going to make the final roster, he's going to need to make a strong impression -- especially on special teams.
Here's what he did Sunday:
Williams went undrafted last year. As a member of the Colts, he carried the ball twice for 12 yards. So, he faces an uphill battle to make the final roster. He did everything in his power on Sunday, though.
Uneven half for T.J. Watt
T.J. Watt's preseason debut for the Steelers was so dominant (two sacks) that outside linebackers coach Joey Porter declared that Watt would start over the ageless James Harrison. Watt's second preseason game, though, didn't go as smoothly.
On Sunday, it was an uneven first half for Watt, who looked solid in run defense, but failed to make an impact as a pass rusher. He notched four tackles (two solo), including one for a loss.
This was probably his best attempt at getting after the quarterback:
TJ Watt's best rush so far. Chop-rip while pressing a tight angle. pic.twitter.com/lKXkHbrfBc— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) August 20, 2017
And if that's his best, that means he really wasn't all too effective.
Uninspiring pass rush reps so far from TJ Watt. No identifiable plan and fighting body to body. Not gonna get home like that. pic.twitter.com/XE93syXWRQ— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) August 20, 2017
But he was a dependable run defender.
(Go check out Joe Marino's Twitter feed for more examples from Watt's outing).
Don't get down on Watt for his inability to get after the quarterback -- after all, it's only his second ever NFL game -- but it is a reminder that Watt is rookie and we probably shouldn't expect too much of him just yet. He's not going to be like his brother, J.J. Watt, in his first professional season. He'll probably be forced to give up some snaps to Harrison, who's been doing this forever. And he's going to experience some growing pains.
But everything Watt has done seems to demonstrate that he's going to be able handle himself when the real games begin. No, he didn't get a sack on Sunday. But there's more to playing outside linebacker than getting sacks. He looked solid in run defense. That matters too.
Matt Ryan on fire against shorthanded defense
Matt Ryan started off hot against the Steelers. After the Falcons' defense forced a punt, Ryan was forced to begin his first drive backed up at his own 9-yard line. The poor field position didn't matter much, as Ryan led the Falcons 91 yards downfield in 10 plays. The scoring drive was punctuated by a Terron Ward touchdown run, but make no mistake about it: The drive was all about Ryan.
On that drive, Ryan went 4 of 6 for 56 yards. He spread the ball around, completing two passes to Mohamed Sanu, one to Marvin Hall, and another to Austin Hooper. He was in total control, navigating the pocket with the kind of mastery we've come to expect from the reigning MVP.
After the touchdown, Ryan's day was finished. This preseason, Ryan is 7 of 9 for 89 yards and a touchdown. So no, he does not look like he's going to experience a Super Bowl hangover.
Of course, it is worth pointing out that the Steelers' defense was a bit shorthanded.
Among Steelers defensive starters out: Bud Dupree, Ryan Shazier, James Harrison, Mike Mitchell.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 20, 2017
Martavis Bryant's return
Finally, Martavis Bryant made it back onto the field on Sunday, playing his first NFL snaps in 19 months. The last time he played? January of 2016.
Bryant, who was suspended for all of last year, was targeted by Steelers rookie quarterback Joshua Dobbs on a quick screen on the first play from scrimmage. The two hooked up, but Bryant was tackled immediately and lost three yards. In the second quarter, Bryant carried the ball on a reverse, but he fumbled. The ball went out of bounds, though, so the Steelers retained possession of the football. A couple plays later, Bryant finally did something positive, making a tough catch down the sideline for a 24-yard gain.
The Steelers are very clearly trying to get Bryant as involved as possible.
Jordan Reed activated off PUP
Good news for the Redskins. Their tight end, Jordan Reed, is ready to play.
On Sunday, the Redskins announced that they activated Reed off the physically unable to perform list. Reed landed on the PUP list on the eve of training camp due to a toe injury. Getting activated off PUP means he was cleared by doctors.
That's great news. When healthy, Reed is one of the league's best pass-catching tight ends. In 2015, when he appeared in 14 games, he racked up 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. Unfortunately, staying healthy has been a bit of an issue for Reed. Since he entered the league in 2013, he's appeared in 46 of 64 possible games.
Hopefully, his toe issues are behind him.
Previously in Week 2 of the preseason
On Saturday, there was a plenty of action. For a complete roundup, click right here, but here's a quick summary. Rams quarterback Jared Goff, last year's top pick who struggled mightily in his rookie season, looked great in his half of action. He went 14 of 17 for 145 yards and a touchdown. Once again, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch remained seated during the national anthem. Meanwhile, the Christian Hackenberg experiment is going as expected. In the first half, the Jets' quarterback went 2 for 6 for 14 yards with a 42.6 passer rating. On the other end of the quarterback spectrum, Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, and Marcus Mariota impressed. In non-quarterback news, Panthers rookie running back Christian McCaffrey looked downright dominant and Jaylon Smith got the start for the Cowboys.
The Seahawks won their game against the Vikings on Friday but suffered a pretty big loss too, as left tackle George Fant was You can read about that plus Michael Bennett continuing his protest, Russell Wilson and Sam Bradford looking sharp, Dalvin Cook excelling and Blair Walsh's revenge
The big news Thursday was Jay Cutler making his Dolphins debut out of coming out of retirement, and while the stats don't reflect it, the former Bears quarterback looked sharp. Also on Thursday, Ryan Mallett was outplayed in what could be an important race to be Baltimore's backup QB, Tyrod Taylor endured a horrible first-half performance and Blake Bortles got booed after another terrible outing that before the season even begins. You can read about those performances plus
- Raiders quarterback Derek Carr says his hand on Khalil Mack's shoulder was a display of unity -- not a protest.
- The Jets reportedly told quarterback Josh McCown to not talk to the media about not playing.
- DeMaurice Smith ripped "greedy" owners and accused Roger Goodell of lying about conduct changes.
- Take a look at the play where Paxton Lynch lost the Broncos' starting job to Trevor Siemian.