The preseason gets a bad rap. People like to call it meaningless because it doesn't count. And lots of the games and plays and things that happen are meaningless, but ignoring the preseason completely is a fool's errand. There's plenty to glean from a weekend's worth of football games where teams try and tune up certain players.

We've been breaking down takeaways on each night but it's worth taking a step back and looking at whose stock is up and whose stock is down two weeks in as we hurtle towards the start of the regular season. Losers aren't actually losers for all eternity, but you can yell at me on Twitter @WillBrinson and tell me that anyway.


Jerry Jones, Cowboys: Jerrah might as well be taking a bath in a tub full of Johnny Walker Blue Label given the way this preseason has gone for him. The Cowboys haven't looked entirely dominant, but Jones has been able to throw all of the criticisms back in the face of anyone complaining about the Cowboys.

On this very website, some moron ranked Dallas as the worst backup quarterback situation (and then later doubled down when the Cowboys didn't sign Nick Foles). That looks ... wrong, at least two weeks into the preseason, with rookie backup Dak Prescott destroying defenses for the Cowboys.

Yes, it's the preseason, and yes, he's getting tons of time to throw, but Prescott is making some incredible throws. He has more touchdowns than incompletions! We have yet to see Ezekiel Elliott, but Tony Romo appears to be fine and Dez Bryant has the look of a wide receiver who wants to remind everyone exactly how good he can be when he's healthy.

Jerry Jones is Dak Prescott's No. 1 fan. USATSI

The rookie Broncos quarterback isn't in the lead for the starting gig in Denver, but he's definitely in play for the job. Gary Kubiak flat out said as much after Saturday's preseason game.

Lynch looks the part of a future star, possessing a howitzer of an arm and the physical attributes capable of doing real damages to defenses. He's just -- and Kubiak said this, too -- behind Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian from a mental standpoint. It comes with the rookie territory.

It's very possible the Broncos don't want to put the pressure of opening up a championship defense on Lynch by starting him Week 1. But he's immensely more talented than his counterparts, he just lacks experience. He will start at some point this season.

Confidence is king in Cleveland and how can RG3 not be confident right now? The former No. 2 pick looked shaky under pressure in Week 1, but he upped the ante during the second week of the preseason by hitting Terrelle Pryor for a second beautiful deep ball, this one resulting in a touchdown.

Griffin flashed his arm on a lovely pass to Gary Barnidge as well.

RG3 is the starter for the Browns and there's no disputing it at this point. The question is how high can he take this team? There's talent here: Josh Gordon will be back, Corey Coleman has tons of upside, Barnidge is being undersold to follow up 2015, Duke Johnson is an animal out of the backfield and Pryor is a fascinating wild card. There could be some analogy about Washington fans looking longingly on as Griffin hangs out with a new belle, but it probably wouldn't be appropriate.

There are plenty of people who will tell you Zach Strief tripped over someone else's foot while Clowney put him into the ground. Who cares? Clowney still showed up in a big way on Saturday, making multiple moves off the edge to put serious pressure on Drew Brees, making less-heralded plays against the run and showing flashes of No. 1 pick prowess.

He is a very good candidate to break out in a very big way in 2016, after two years of not putting up huge stats. (Clowney was better than people want to believe last year.)

The Texans are such an interesting team this year after remaking their entire offense and facing a J.J. Watt injury. Clowney coming out of the gates hot would go a long way toward keeping the defense at the level everyone's come to expect with Watt expected to miss time after back surgery.

You know you've done something good when your coach is asked what positive things he took from a game and the only specific name he hands out is yours. Rogers was just that guy after the Thursday game against the Eagles -- Mike Tomlin was primarily negative in his press conference (worried about mistakes, etc), but praised Rogers for his play.

"I thought Eli Rogers did some things early on in terms of working the interior of the field and winning possession downs," Tomlin said.

We gave love to Sammie Coates in our breakdown of the game, but Rogers would've been a better candidate. Coates has tons of athleticism and a lot of upside, but his inability to be consistent could mean Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bay start on the outside opposite Antonio Brown. Rogers, meanwhile, showed an ability to play all over the field against Philadelphia.

He moved the chains early on a play while lining up in the slot, with a stacked formation opposite. It leveraged the Eagles into opening up a hole for Rogers to work and he worked it well.

Eli Rogers could be a surprise for Pittsburgh. via

Rogers also lined up outside for a bubble screen that produced positive yards and was part of a rub concept on another interior route that resulted in nice yardage.

The rub for the Eagles? Eli Rogers is wide open. via

According to the 2016 Football Outsiders Almanac, the Steelers were in 11 personnel (3 wide receivers) 66 percent of the time in 2015.

Rogers has shown a knack for nimbly picking up yards after the catch and grinding out first downs underneath. All that will do is open things up for the rest of the Steelers wide receivers. And on the off chance defenses decide to focus on Antonio Brown, Rogers could see some pretty nice openings in coverage.


Week 2 could've been a stage for The Sanchize (patent pending) to take hold of the Broncos job and run with it. Instead, he finds himself potentially at the bottom of the depth chart after a turnover-filled evening against the 49ers defense.

Sanchez marched the Denver offense into the red zone only to cough up the ball with a fumble. When San Francisco tried to give him the ball back, he politely declined and fumbled again. It's a "crappy" effort -- his words -- that could end up costing him a heavenly gift of an opportunity.

Yeah, not a great Saturday night for Mark Sanchez. USATSI

Rex Ryan, Bills: After an offseason of winning everything in sight (according to Rex), it's been a rough preseason for the Bills. This past week was particularly brutal.

Buffalo found out Reggie Ragland would miss his entire rookie season and Shaq Lawson remains very much a question mark. Marcell Dareus was suspended for the first four games of the season by the league and on Saturday checked into rehab. Saturday also featured the Bills cutting Karlos Williams, their fifth-round pick from 2015 who tied for the team lead in touchdowns last season.

The Bills had depth at running back, so that's good, but of course Mike Gillislee immediately got hurt. It's not all bad though, because Rex's team did play well on defense again in Week 2 of the preseason, refusing to yield a single point to the Giants, even with Ryan Nassib and Logan Thomas playing quarterback.

The amount of pressure placed on the Bucs rookie kicker was huge to begin with because he was the 59th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. You don't spend second-round picks on kickers, but if you do, they better be good.

Aguayo has not been good two games into the preseason. He missed an extra point in his first game with Tampa after never missing an extra point during his entire college career. On Saturday he missed a 32-yard field goal during his second game with the Bucs after never missing a kick under 40 yards during his entire college career. Talk about some red flags.

Doug Pederson, Eagles: It's not all bad for Pederson, as the Eagles are going to have a good defense this year. They look capable of producing a ton of turnovers -- although asking for five a week might be too much -- and could potentially have the best defensive unit in the NFC East.

The bad news? The Eagles offense. It does not look good. With Lane Johnson suspended 10 games, the Eagles are going to struggle to protect up front. When you struggle to protect, you force a guy like Sam Bradford to get the ball out quickly and you put his health at risk. When you put Bradford's health at risk, you bring Chase Daniel into play. And when you do that, you're suddenly in a tight situation.

Add in an inability of the wide receivers to separate and the dangerous possibility of a Ryan Mathews' injury making Darren Sproles or Kenjon Barner the feature back, and the floor for this offense looks hazardously low.

It's not even Week 5 and Brady has already lost a weapon without getting to play yet. Dion Lewis is expected to miss a significant amount of time in 2016 after undergoing a second surgery as a follow up on his torn ACL from last November. "Indefinitely" is not a word you want associated with your health late in August if you play in the NFL.

More bad news for Brady -- and backup Jimmy Garappolo, who looked good in preseason action during Week 2 -- Sebastian Vollmer is expected to hit the injured reserve this season. It could be the end of Vollmer's Pats career, and possibly his NFL career.

For the Pats right now, it means they're four weeks down with their top quarterback and just got banged with injuries to their most versatile running back and a critical member of their offensive line.