Jacksonville 14, Minnesota 10 (box score)
L.A. Rams 19, Oakland 15 (box score)
Cincinnati 21, Dallas 13 (box score)
Houston 16, San Francisco 13 (box score)
Tampa Bay 30, Tennessee 14 (box score)
Chicago 24, Denver 23 (box score)
L.A. Chargers 24, Seattle 21 (box score)
Youth is served at QB
Anyone tuning into the 49ers-Texans matchup on Saturday was doing so in order to try and get a good look at two exciting young quarterbacks in Jimmy Garoppolo and Deshaun Watson. The people who took a peek weren't disappointed, because both Garoppolo and Watson looked sharp in fairly limited action for their respective teams.
Jimmy G had a throw on the first drive to Marquise Goodwin -- who clearly is developing into his top target and more than just a speed threat -- that showcased just how special a passer he really is.
Garoppolo would finish the night going 10 for 12 for 136 yards, one touchdown and an interception, but the pick wasn't necessarily his fault.
All in all he looked quite comfortable and ready to pick up where he left off.
The same could be said for Watson, who played limited time before being replaced by Brandon Weeden. While he was out there, though, Watson reminded everyone why he was so enthralling during a short stretch of his rookie year. He routinely made impressive throws, finding the open man and finishing 5 for 8 for 73 yards and a touchdown, which was a one-yard throw on fourth-and-goal to Bruce Ellington.
Three notes from Watson's action: one, the ACL injury he's returning from didn't appear to bother him much at all in terms of comfort and movement. Two, he played well without DeAndre Hopkins out there, which is a good sign. And three, the Texans, on third-and-goal and fourth-and-goal, decided to run plays out of the shotgun, even though the ball was roughly six inches away from the goal line.
We can classify that as confidence in Watson's ability, but we could also classify it as a lack of confidence in the Houston offensive line. That could be a red flag for Watson and the Texans this year -- if that unit can't protect or run block, the offense could run into some issues when it faces up against tougher defensive lines.
Chad Kelly keeps opening eyes
After recently leapfrogging Paxton Lynch for the No. 2 spot on the Broncos quarterback depth chart, Chad Kelly is comfortably locking himself into the backup position for Denver. His performance on Saturday night was good enough to raise some eyebrows, with the seventh-round pick -- Kelly was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2017 NFL Draft -- and former Ole Miss star getting under center and whipping a pass to rookie wideout Courtland Sutton.
No one's ever doubted his talent. Injuries and character issues are what caused Kelly to tumble down draft boards last year. And while he's not going to supplant Case Keenum as the starter (right?), it's very easy to imagine a scenario where Broncos GM John Elway gets excited about the idea of the last pick from the 2017 draft becoming his successful starter. The irony of Kelly's uncle, Jim Kelly, having been drafted in the same legendary quarterback draft of 1984 as Elway shouldn't go unnoticed either.
At the very least, Kelly becoming a serviceable, exciting backup in Denver would go a long way towards people settling down on attacking Elway for his quarterback issues since taking over in Mile High.
Taywan Taylor keeps going off
One thing we've slept on with the new Titans offense: There needs to be a slot guy who can put up big numbers. It would be weird if a Kyle Shanahan/Sean McVay/Matt LaFleur offense didn't have some diminutive fella ripping off chunk yardage by getting him the ball in space and/or just utilizing his basic skillset.
Color me shocked that the Titans didn't do this under Mike Mularkey. Taylor came out of Western Kentucky as a third-round pick, but he was only targeted 28 times last year, catching 16 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown. Most of his production came in a 61-yard effort against the Colts on Monday night (remember the game where Derrick Henry ruined the spread with a late touchdown run?).
He's not just a speed demon either; his second touchdown came on a goal-line play where he was targeted on a short route by Marcus Mariota.
Corey Davis will be the No. 1 weapon for Tennessee, but he's been banged up a bit (like he was last year). And Rishard Matthews has quietly been unavailable for undisclosed injury reasons throughout much of the preseason. Taylor could end up being a highly productive player in this offense this season.
Cowboys lose a key starter to a knee injury
The preseason can be brutal, and the Cowboys got a scare on Saturday night, when All-Pro guard Zack Martin was forced to leave with a knee injury during the first half.
The play happened as Martin was pulling to the right on a toss sweep -- Dre Kirkpatrick of the Bengals went low on him and appeared to make contact with his helmet to Martin's leg/knee area.
The result was Martin sitting on the field, talking to trainers and then eventually ending up in the medical tent.
After spending about 10 minutes in the medical tent, Zack Martin has exited. He is now limping, heading to the locker room— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 18, 2018
Martin was ruled out for the game, with no additional information handed out.
There might be some better news, maybe? According to Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com (via Jon Machota), it was a heavily taped right ankle for Martin as he was going to the locker room.
Either way it's bad news, but still too early to panic about Martin's status until we hear more from the Cowboys.
Chris Warren, late-round Fantasy sleeper?
No one is talking about Chris Warren. Or, at least, no one was talking about Chris Warren until Saturday afternoon anyway. Now there's plenty of buzz about the Raiders' fifth-string running back, thanks to his performance against the Los Angeles Rams in the Raiders' Week 2 preseason game.
Word of caution: Warren has plenty of competition with the Raiders and is hardly a lock to make the roster. Warren was undrafted, and the Raiders already have Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington on the depth chart.
But if the preseason is about trying to secure a spot on a roster, Warren did an excellent job giving Raiders coaches a good impression of what he can offer.
The former Texas running back, who was undrafted this year, cracked the century mark, piling up piling up 107 yards on just 17 carries to bring the Raiders within one point of the Rams after falling behind 16-0. Warren also caught his only target for seven yards. And he plunged in for a second-half touchdown:
Again, don't go out there dropping a starting running back for this guy. But we know Jon Gruden is going to be committed to running the heck out of the ball, and Marshawn and Martin are not exactly a youthful duo at the top of the depth chart. With a good offensive line and some touches, Warren could end up being a very deep sleeper worth nabbing in your draft.
Should the Jaguars trade for Teddy Bridgewater?
That's been one of the biggest questions people are asking through the early portion of the Jaguars' offensive drives against the Vikings on Saturday. Granted, Minnesota's a stout defense. And granted, it's the preseason. But Blake Bortles hasn't looked great in the early going. Bortles threw one pick deep in his own territory. There should have been an earlier pick as well, but Bortles got lucky and a Vikings defender dropped it.
Worth noting: Bortles bounced back from that near-pick nicely, helping the Jaguars rip off a 12-play, 85-yard drive that nearly ended with Bortles throwing a screen pass for a touchdown, then nearly ended with Bortles rushing in for a touchdown and finally ended in Leonard Fournette plunging in from the 1-yard line for a score. The issue for Bortles is the lack of consistency.
Maybe it's a total kneejerk reaction to claim Jacksonville, who is coming off an AFC Championship Game appearance and nearly made the Super Bowl, should just blow up their plans. Bortles had a nice stretch during the 2017 season and made a few nice throws against Minnesota.
But Teddy Bridgewater looks like a starting NFL quarterback, and when you see Bortles make back-breaking mistakes, it's a reminder the Jags have a great defense and potentially a small window with which to take advantage of their setup. They stood pat this offseason after doubling down on Bortles' contract. There are a lot of people in that building heavily invested in the quarterback.
Objectively it would be worth considering a move to trade for Bortles and at least give the offense a second option if Bortles appears as if he'll hold the team back significantly.
Roughing the passer is off the rails
The new Aaron Rodgers Rule, whereby defenders who "stuff" quarterbacks into the ground on a sack, or use all their body weight while falling onto the quarterback and get flagged for it, is going to cause serious issues. It popped up against the Vikings during the afternoon preseason game on Saturday and people were not happy about the call in question.
The Raiders are sitting everyone in protest (sort of)
Jon Gruden is not a fan of the NFL forcing the Raiders to play the Rams in a preseason game just a few weeks before the Raiders play the Rams in a regular season game. The two teams will match up in Week 1 on Monday night in Oakland, yet they met in Los Angeles on Saturday for a preseason game.
Gruden responded by basically benching everyone.
Jon Gruden was dumbfounded when NFL scheduled Raiders to play Rams, their Week 1 opponent, today in preseason. Two matchups, 24 days. His response: rest core Raiders starters today in mass. No Derek Carr and co. We’ll get long look at team’s depth.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 18, 2018
He's got a point here in terms of the Rams being able to see what the Raiders want to do with their starters, but surely he wasn't going to run the same gameplan against the Rams as he planned to run against them in a few weeks. He knows the Rams can still see his next preseason game (via the magic of television) next week, right? He would also get the advantage of seeing some of the Rams players in action, although Sean McVay also rested most of his starters.
McVay sitting his starters for a second straight week. Taking a different approach and essentially creating a 1 game preseason sked since the NFL won’t.— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) August 18, 2018
Whatever, the point being is that there's not a whole lot of action happening in the Raiders-Rams game.
If you would like two potentially interesting fantasy football takeaways from the first half, Rams rookie John Kelly looked pretty sharp while running as the third-string running back. He's an interesting handcuff for Todd Gurley owners or just a deep sleeper for any team really.
And Jalen Richard was 2 for 2 for 31 yards early for the Raiders in terms of targets and receptions, flashing some athleticism in the open field. The Raiders might have too many bodies to give Richard a bunch of carries or even touches, but he warrants monitoring if only because of his explosion.
The Rams defense is going to be good, by the way. That's a tough call considering they weren't throwing all their starters out there and they were going against Connor Cook and EJ Manuel, but you can see how this unit will work out quite well when everyone is on the field and Wade Phillips is playing with the joystick.