The NFL preseason is halfway through Week 2, which serves as the actual “dress rehearsal” for starters to prepare for the start of the regular season — which is just three weeks away. For teams that don’t have joint practice sessions this week, week 2 of the preseason is critical.
Saturday’s series consisted of eight games, including three in the afternoon, four concurrent in prime time, and the Cowboys and Chargers battling it out in the late window. The Broncos didn’t play most of their starters in either of the two early games, but the Bills gave theirs — including Josh Allen — a little run. As expected, the Chiefs debuted their new look on Saturday, and the result was similar to what the Chiefs offense did during Patrick Mahomes’ first four years as Kansas City’s starting quarterback.
Fans were also treated to starting quarterbacks Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis, both of whom are hoping to put more pressure on the quarterbacks ahead of them on the depth chart. The day concluded with a brilliant performance from a player who recently won the USFL MVP accolade.
Below is a recap of all the highlights from the first three days of the preseason action.
Bears 27, Seahawks 11 (takeaway)
Patriots 20, Panthers 10 (takeaway)
Packers 20, Saints 10 (summary)
Texans 24, Rams 20 (summary)
Bills 42, Broncos 15 (summary)
Lions 27, Colts 26 (summary)
Chiefs 24, Commanders 14 (summary)
Steelers 16, Jaguars 15 (takeaway)
Raiders 15, Dolphins 13 (summary)
49ers 17, Vikings 7 (summary)
Titans 13, Buccaneers 3 (summary)
Cowboys 29, Chargers 10 (Game Tracker)
Eagles at Browns, 1 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Bengals at Giants, 7 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Ravens at Cardinals, 8 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Falcons at Jets, 8pm ET (Gametracker)
Kenny Pickett continues strong preseason
Kenny Pickett’s hype train just keeps rolling on. After throwing the winning touchdown in Pittsburgh’s preseason opener last week, the rookie turns heads again in the first round. This time, Pickett sees work with the first team offense and looks like a man capable of being Week 1’s starter. In the second quarter, he led a touchdown drive in just 42 seconds.
In addition to the scoring toss against running back Benny Snell Jr., Pickett also showed a nice ball on a 24-yard win against tight end Pat Freiermuth. In the first half, Pickett went 6-of-7 over 76 yards and that touchdown.
Malik Willis shows off escape option
Malik Willis shows his head. The Liberty rookie got the start in Tennessee’s preseason matchup against Tampa Bay, and his ability to weave around the sack has been fully on display. While leading the Titans on a second quarter field goal, Willis threw a side arm pass while escaping a potential bag to move the chains.
He then ripped off a 25-yard scramble to get Tennessee into the red zone, where they would eventually kick a field goal. Willis is still a raw prospect and needs to improve as passers-by, but the tools are there for him to be a legitimate candidate to be a long-term option for the Titans with some development.
The Exciting Return of KaVontae Turpin
Reigning USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin bolstered his case to make the Cowboys’ 53-man roster when he returned a 98-yard kick-off Saturday night for a score against the Chargers. He returned to the end zone moments later after running back an 86 yards punt for a touchdown.
Turpin joined the Cowboys earlier this summer after helping the USFL’s New Jersey Generals post a 9-1 regular during the league’s first regular season.
Titans rookie wideout Kyle Phillips has made a name for himself this summer. He is praised by head coach Mike Vrabel, who also noted that quarterback Ryan Tannehill trusts the throwing at him. While he opened his eyes as a pass catcher, the UCLA fifth round pick-up also plays in the return leg.
In Tennessee’s exhibition with the Bucs on Saturday, Phillips fielded a punt just outside the Tennessee 20-yard line and returned in 35 yards. He was able to miss his initial tackler, found a hole and fought through a few tackles to turn the field for the Titans.
While rookie George Pickens has been getting a lot of attention in Pittsburgh this summer, don’t sleep over Chase Claypool’s talent. On the Steelers opening run in their exhibition with the Jaguars, Mitchell Trubisky took a third-and-6 snap and linked up with Claypool, who ran a fade out of the slot and got up to make a contested catch for 29 yards. Claypool is looking for a 2021 season where he managed a career high of 956 yards from scrimmage and 13.1 yards per touch.
Mahome’s double dips with Fortson
In case you were wondering, Patrick Mahomes looks like Patrick Mahomes. In Kansas City’s second preseason game of the summer against Washington, the former league MVP got the start and appeared to be in good shape midway through the season. He opened the game with back-to-back touchdown drives, both with a pass to tight end Jody Fortson.
The first catch capped off a 87-meter run for the Chiefs. Mahomes threw it at Fortson and he was able to show strong footwork to stay within the limits for the score. That wasn’t even Mahomes’ best throw on the drive, as he also completed a 39-yard pass to Justin Watson.
Later, Mahomes was purged from the pocket and forced to make a balanced throw to the front left corner of the end zone where he would find Fortson again.
By two runs, Mahomes is 12 of 19 passing 162 yards and those two scores.
Lions and touchdowns and grabs, oh my
Not many starters saw the field in the Lions vs. Colts, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything worth paying attention to. Lions wideout Tom Kennedy was in the end zone on back-to-back Detroit possessions. The first touchdown hold came on the last play of the first half:
To open the scoring after halftime, Kennedy again reached over a Colt defender to pull in a pass for six points.
Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills offense of the first team marched through the field against the Denver Broncos, covering 70 yards on six games. The drive ended with Allen clambering around the pocket, putting his feet down and hitting the ball to Gabriel Davis in front of the endzone.
Allen went 3-for-3 for 49 yards and a score, completing passes to Davis, Stefon Diggs and Isaiah McKenzie. Devin Singletary was back in the lead for Buffalo, with Zack Moss coming in for stage #2 ahead of rookie James Cook. Oh, and Buffalo followed up on the Davis touchdown catch by reaching the end zone on each of his next five possessions. Moss scored a few short scores, OJ Howard caught a touchdown from Case Keenum (who finished 16 of 18 for 192 yards), and Duke Johnson also hit the ground twice.
Catch of the (Friday) evening!
The Houston Texans played their starters for the first half of this preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams and were able to take a 7-6 lead at halftime thanks to Nico Collins’ accurate catch in the end zone. Collins beat Derion Kendrick just before the ball and came away with the score.
Collins will play a part in the Texan attack in 2022. This kind of action will give him more targets.
What makes this Etling touchdown run special? The game took placeon the Packers broadcast. Rodgers’ excitement with Etling scores makes this game even more exciting.
Love looked like an NFL quarterback on Friday night, finishing with 113 yards and a touchdown pass. He also demonstrated his running skills with this 11-yard run for a first down.
Chris Olave scores his first touchdown
Olave gives Saints fans a taste of what’s to come when he joins Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry this fall. The first-round pick tied up with Ian Book on a 20-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left in the top half — his first in a Saints uniform.
Olave only had one catch for four yards last week, but had two in the first half of this one.
Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe made a dangerous pitch that rolled to the left, and Hayes read the pass to take the ball the other way and even the game. Zappe hasn’t been as sharp in his second appearance this preseason, one in which Matt Patricia mentions plays.
Romeo Doub’s touchdown
There is a place for Doubs to earn snaps with the first team this year, and this touchdown catch from Jordan Love shows why. Doubs came up with this impressive touchdown reception from four yards over Brian Allen to give the Packers a 10-3 lead against the Saints in the second quarter. Love begins to show confidence in the rookie in the fourth round.
59-yard field goal by Wil Lutz
Lutz missed all of 2021 with a core muscle injury as the Saints lacked his reliability in the stair department. He certainly looked like his old self with this 59-yard field goal to close out the first quarter.
Only 13 out of 23 on over 50 field goals in his career, Lutz hitting this kick is very encouraging.
Romeo Doubs advocates moving higher on the depth chart
Doubs was one of the young wide receivers to criticize Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the week, so he was in the spotlight with the second teamers taking part in the majority of these. A 17-yard catch on the opening drive on a Jordan Love pitch makes a strong impression, even if Doubs failed to get a third-down pass earlier.
No longer a quarterback for the Saints, Hill has shifted his focus to a tight end for the 2022 season. The No. 2 tight end in New Orleans, Hill made an early impression by catching a 10-yard pass from Ian Book. Hill adds an extra dimension to Saints offense in his new role and can still play wide receiver and running back in close range situations.
The Patriots averaged just 1.9 yards per game in the first quarter with just 21 yards offense, but Nelson Agholor changed that with this 45 yards catch on an impressive pitch from Mac Jones. Going against a second team defense or not, here’s what Patriots fans want to see from their new strike.
New England scored a touchdown—a six-foot run from Ty Montgomery—three plays later.