What we learned: Siemian does enough for Broncos – NFL.com


Has the Broncos‘ quarterback situation finally resolved itself?

Trevor Siemian played well enough during the first half Saturday to likely hold off Mark Sanchez and/or Paxton Lynch for at least a few weeks. Siemian ended his night completing 10 of 17 passes for 122 yards, a touchdown and a pick. While nothing about his performance was spectacular, it represented the foundational level of what we expect from a quarterback in this offense. He throws fairly well on the run and, like any quarterback with so little playing time, is still working on how to cut down on negative plays.

“I’m impressed,” Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said about Siemian after the game. “I think he’s very calm. I can tell by the way he handles the team in the huddle. He has control of what’s going on.

“What I see is a guy getting better. Every timeout, working really hard, like they all have. I think he’s made some strides and I thought he did a good job tonight.”


Sanchez remained on the bench, leading us to believe one of three scenarios:

? The Broncos wanted an extended look at Lynch on Saturday. If they cut Sanchez they can still reclaim the conditional pick they dealt for him, plus save a roster spot and $5 million. Lynch struggled with his accuracy but still has a massive arm and more natural athleticism than any passer taken in the first round of this year’s draft. That alone might be enough to help win games for Denver if it makes a change beyond Siemian.

? The Broncos decide Sanchez is staying on the roster but they do not want to get him hurt, forcing them to break in another backup. Given that Sanchez is a veteran, they could decide they know enough about his game already.

? The Broncos are still trying to light a fire under Sanchez and bring out the best in him before the preseason finale.

Who said the preseason wasn’t ripe with drama?

Here’s what else we learned from Saturday’s preseason games:


1. The Giants mercifully ended their preseason scoreless streak after 10 quarters, but not while Eli Manning was in the game. A few of the mistakes from the Giants‘ first-string offense were excusable — Odell Beckham, for example, short-armed a pass with a defender closing down on him at rapid speed, which led to a Darrelle Revis interception — but they have not done anything particularly well in the preseason. While this can also be blamed on the milquetoast play-calling, we did see several regular season looks typically deployed by coach Ben McAdoo on offense and they were not executed well. The one bonus? It was nice to see Victor Cruz make his first in-game catch in almost two years.

2. Christian Hackenberg made his preseason debut to mixed results. It was a short stint that, in a way, perfectly encapsulated every boom-or-bust scouting report that has been written about the Penn State product over the last six months. His first drive saw the Jets march down the field for a touchdown. Hackenberg hit on 4 of 6 passes and seemed to get better with each throw on the drive. His next stint? A pick deep in Jets territory on a ball heaved directly into a high traffic area. The Giants ended up scoring and, eventually, winning the coveted Snoopy Bowl trophy. Good grief. At this point, the Jets need to get creative at the quarterback position. It’s become exceedingly clear that Geno Smith is their second-best option and that rolling with Bryce Petty would be far too risky. Hackenberg is a year away from inserting himself into the backup conversation.

3. Matt Forte got a heavy workload early on and looked fine. The veteran running back carried the ball 10 times for 28 yards. The Jets clearly wanted to get him stretched out before the regular-season opener. His presence continues to make us believe that he’ll be a massive part of the Jets‘ offense this year, though it also makes us appreciate Bilal Powell. Powell has seriously improved his game over the past two seasons and is a more than capable change-of-pace back.


4. Joe Flacco‘s preseason debut went well, ending after a pair of drives with an 11 of 16 stat line. While he overshot wide receiver Mike Wallace early, the Ravens will take it. Flacco’s knee is not 100 percent but there was no apparent stiffness. He maneuvered the pocket well and didn’t appear to be missing any functional strength after a long rehabilitation.

5. The Ravens‘ tight end situation is a mess. After Benjamin Watson went down with a torn Achilles, they were left with Crockett Gillmore — a fine tight end, but after being promised a depth chart that included Watson, Dennis Pitta, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle, we’re wondering how Baltimore will approach the position over the coming weeks. Boyle is suspended, while Williams and Pitta are dealing with minor injuries.

6. Ameer Abdullah got his first — and probably only — action of the season and was able to lower his injured shoulder during a run. Abdullah finished with four carries and 16 yards, though most came on an 11-yard scamper. Linebacker DeAndre Levy also returned, logging 22 snaps on defense. While the Lions were technically “blown out” by the Ravens, this had to be an encouraging first half for coach Jim Caldwell. Two of his more explosive players are working their way back without any hiccups.

— Conor Orr

7. The Alex Smith-led Chiefs are far from must-watch TV on offense, but coach Andy Reid must be pleased with Saturday’s effort. Smith hit 20 of 30 passes for 181 yards as Kansas City dominated the clock with their starters on the field. Dinking-and-dunking to-and-fro, Smith scrambled for 25 yards and hit eight different targets along the way. Kansas City owned the ball for 21:54 of the first half and outgained Chicago 239 yards to 20 while building a 13-0 lead at the break. Smith led scoring drives of 13, 10 and 11 plays and out-snapped the Bears 45-18 over the first two quarters. In essence, an Andy Reid fever dream.


8. Jay Cutler‘s first four drives resulted in four punts, a trio of three-and-outs and a sloppy strip sack. Averaging a hideous 1.1 yards per play in the first half, Chicago’s offense lacked any semblance of identity. A bad drop by Alshon Jeffery squelched one potentially big gain, but that wasn’t the only issue. The ground game was blown up by Kansas City’s front seven while Cutler’s offense generated just two first downs to 16 for the Chiefs. Cutler returned for one march in the second half, “leading” a 12-play drive capped by a missed field goal. All in all a disaster.

— Marc Sessler

9. You’ve heard this story before: The Colts got pushed around on both sides of the line of scrimmage. To make matters worse, left guard Jack Mewhort is believed to have torn his ACL, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported. General manager Ryan Grigson has drafted nine offensive linemen over the past four years, yet Andrew Luck has taken more hits than any other quarterback. Vick Ballard‘s 105-yard effort in December of 2012 remains the lone 100-yard rushing performance of the Luck era. After the game, coach Chuck Pagano acknowledged that Luck’s first-half punishment had “a lot” to do with the decision not to play him in the third quarter.

10. On a positive note, Luck looked sharp for the second straight week — in between beatings from the Eagles‘ defensive line. The sample size is small, but Luck appears to have recaptured his 2014 form after a disappointing, injury-wrecked 2015 campaign.


11. Robert Turbin and Josh Ferguson continue to split backup duties behind Frank Gore. Ferguson finally came through with a nice screen play, but needs open space to operate. He’s managed just 14 yards on 17 preseason carries.

12. Good luck figuring out the pecking order at wide receiver in Philadelphia. Nelson Agholor, Chris Givens and Josh Huff played with the first-team offense. Agholor’s first-quarter drop resulted in an interception, while Huff helped himself with a 38-yard catch-and-run and a touchdown run on a jet sweep. Meanwhile, the Eagles are using Dorial Green-Beckham as an end-zone specialist, allowing the 6-foot-5 wideout to use his humongous frame on corner fades. In his postgame comments, Sam Bradford confirmed that Green-Beckham is “the receiver that comes to mind when you think of the red zone.”

13. Andre Johnson was heavily involved with the Titans‘ first-team offense, catching three passes for 65 yards in the first quarter. It will be interesting to see if he’s the odd man out of the rotation once slot receiver Kendall Wright returns from a hamstring injury. Tajae Sharpe and Rishard Matthews have been locked into the top two spots since training camp opened.

14. DeMarco Murray continues to look rejuvenated in Tennessee. One open-field juke left Raiders cornerback David Amerson grasping for air. Even if Murray channels his 2014 Offensive Player of the Year form, monstrous tackle-breaking rookie Derrick Henry is simply too good to keep under wraps. The Titans could boast the league’s most unstoppable backfield tandem this season.


15. Marcus Mariota on an open-field option play is a thing of beauty. This is going to be one of the most fun offenses to watch in 2016.

16. Latavius Murray was an afterthought in the Raiders‘ backfield, as the coaches wanted to get long looks at rookies DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. Washington touched the ball five times for 46 yards and a touchdown in the first half, showing an intriguing skill set as a third-down and change-of-pace option. After drawing raves from the coaching staff this week, Richard also saw action with the first-team offense, rushing seven times for 35 yards. It will be interesting to see if both backs eat into Murray’s workload.

17. Jared Goff simply needs time to get used to NFL speed. He’s still slow to read defenses and throws his receivers into trouble. He also showed a lack of awareness sliding short of the first-down marker on third down and telegraphed a pass that would have gone for a pick-six if not for a Darian Stewart drop.

18. Rookie Devontae Booker continues to operate as Denver’s No. 2 running back, which could leave Ronnie Hillman as a trade candidate. Although Hillman saw no action with the first-team offense, he ran with impressive vision and cutting ability while playing with Paxton Lynch in the second half.

19. Siemian has eyes for Virgil Green, who has separated from the competition as the Broncos‘ No. 1 tight end.

— Chris Wesseling

What we learned: Siemian does enough for Broncos – NFL.com


NFL Preseason Week 3: Takeaways from Saturday’s Action – Bleacher Report

The Baltimore Ravens must thinking, “Here we go again.”?One play is all it took for Benjamin Watson‘s season to end.?

During an?innocuous play?vs. the Detroit Lions, the tight end fell to the ground after firing off the snap. Unfortunately, the 13-year veteran’s career may now be in danger.?

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the 35-year-old Watson tore an Achilles tendon.

The Ravens expected to rely heavily on Watson. The former first-round pick experienced a career year last season when he caught 74 passes for 825 yards and six touchdowns as a member of the New Orleans Saints.?

As a result, Baltimore signed the tight end to a two-year, $7 million free-agent contract with plans to use him as Joe Flacco’s security blanket.?To paraphrase Robert Burns, the best-laid plans of Ravens and men often go awry.?

This is merely a continuation of last year when Baltimore suffered a glut of season-ending injuries to key performers such as Terrell Suggs, Steve Smith Sr. and?Flacco.?

Fortunately, the Ravens boast a deep tight end depth chart with Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Daniel Brown, Nick Boyle and Darren Waller in tow. However, Boyle and Waller are suspended to start the season, and Pitta (broken finger) and Williams (undisclosed) continue to deal with injuries.?

To make matters worse, backup running back Kenneth Dixon suffered a knee sprain, according to the Ravens‘ official Twitter feed.?

NFL Preseason Week 3: Takeaways from Saturday’s Action – Bleacher Report


Tony Romo breaks bone in back, out until mid-season – NFL.com


Disaster has struck in Dallas.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett announced Saturday that starting quarterback Tony Romo underwent an MRI on Friday that revealed a broken bone in his back, per David Helman of the team’s official website.


Garrett labeled Romo “day-to-day” and refused to give a timetable for his return, but NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the quarterback’s “best-case scenario” is returning by mid-season after suffering a compression fracture of his vertebrae, per a source informed of the situation.

Rapoport noted that Romo “broke a different bone” than in 2014, when he suffered two fractures in his transverse process, and would “likely need an epidural to play.” The hope is that Romo will return after the bye for his team’s Week 8 showdown with the Eagles, with Garrett saying: “We’re confident that he’s going to be coming back and playing football for us this year.”

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones described the loss of Romo as “a punch to the gut,” and told the?Dallas Morning News the team is open to possibly acquiring another quarterback. He added that Romo is intent on not seeing a repeat of 2015 play out.

“He’s certainly not deterred,” Jones said. He feels like it’s going to be different. That he can get through this.

“He also feels very confident our team can win games without him while he’s not here. He’s driven to help Dak (Prescott) win football games for us so when he gets back we have a great chance to have a great season, get in the tournament and contend for a championship, nothing’s changed.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is confident?Romo will be back this season since the injury is “nowhere near the issue he had last year (broken clavicle), not even in the same league as far as we’re concerned.”

Romo was hurt three plays into Thursday’s preseason game against the Seahawks, writhing on the field after taking a hit from Seattle’s Cliff Avril. Despite lobbying to return, Romo was quickly removed from the lineup in favor of Prescott, the promising rookie.

This is dark news for Dallas. Back injuries are especially tricky and Romo’s recent career has been riddled with broken bones and upper-body setbacks. At age 36, it’s fair to wonder how many more hits his body can endure.

It’s a worst-case development for the Cowboys, but Prescott also brings a dash of hope. While it’s dubious to judge quarterbacks off preseason action, the fourth-rounder has lit up opponents in August and made one big play after the next for Big D. Prescott currently leads the NFL in completion percentage (78 percent), passing yards (454), passing touchdowns (5) and quarterback rating (137.8). Still, the Cowboys understand Prescott will need further development.

“We’re not naive enough to think that a rookie QB can come in here and do what (Romo has) done in the preseason,” Stephen Jones told KDFW-TV in Dallas. “But at the same time, I think he makes our team feel good and he’s got a great chemistry with the offensive group.”

The strategy in Dallas won’t change, though, with the clock-chewing Cowboys expected to ride rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott in hopes of keeping their less-than-stellar defense off the field.

For weeks, many have wondered what Prescott might accomplish in the rough-and-tumble regular season. They’ll find out much sooner than anyone expected.

Tony Romo breaks bone in back, out until mid-season – NFL.com


Wholesale NFL cuts start, claim 3 with Alabama football roots – AL.com

As many as 1,184 players will be dropped from NFL rosters over the next eight days, and the massive reduction started on Saturday. Among the players waived were defensive tackle Darren Lake, wide receiver Jarvis Turner?and cornerback Ryan White.

NFL teams can have as many as 90 players on their rosters now. But at 3 p.m. CDT Tuesday, the limit drops to 75. Teams must have their rosters at the regular-season maximum of 53 players by 3 p.m. Sept. 3.

Four of the teams that played their third preseason games on Thursday or Friday combined to release 42 players on Saturday.

FOR MORE OF AL.COM’S COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE OF THE NFL, GO TO OUR?NFL PAGE

The Atlanta Falcons waived White, a former Auburn cornerback. White had been with the Falcons only since Aug. 15, and he did not play in Atlanta’s preseason loss to the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night. This marks the third straight preseason that White has been released by an NFL team. He went to training camp with the Green Bay Packers in 2014 and 2015.

Lake played at Sumter County High School in York before going to Alabama. He joined the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted rookie in May. Lake recovered five tackles and forced a fumble in three preseason games with San Francisco.

A prep standout at Murphy in Mobile, Turner attended Washington’s rookie minicamp in May on a tryout basis and signed with the Redskins on June 2. Turner played in two of Washington’s three preseason games without catching a pass.

Wholesale NFL cuts start, claim 3 with Alabama football roots – AL.com