NFL : NFL preseason Week 1 takeaways: Jacob Eason, Sam Ehlinger battle to become Colts’ backup QB in victory

NFL : NFL preseason Week 1 takeaways: Jacob Eason, Sam Ehlinger battle to become Colts’ backup QB in victory

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While the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers opened the 2021 NFL preseason with their Hall of Fame game matchup last week, preseason kicked off in earnest this week, as all 32 teams were in action.

It started Thursday with two games, as rookie quarterback Mac Jones helped lead the New England Patriots past the Washington Football Team in his NFL debut, while 2019 first-rounder Dwayne Haskins was impressive as the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles.

Three more games took place Friday, including Jared Goff‘s debut as the Detroit Lions‘ quarterback after moving to the Motor City from the Los Angeles Rams in a trade.

Saturday was the big day with 10 games. In the afternoon, the Denver Broncos beat the Minnesota Vikings in a homecoming for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater, the Vikings’ first-round pick in 2014, played for Minnesota from 2014 to ’17 and is competing with Drew Lock to be the Broncos’ starter. The NFL’s two newest stadiums also hosted their first games with fans, as the Las Vegas Raiders took on the Seattle Seahawks at Allegiant Stadium and the Los Angeles Chargers played the Rams at SoFi Stadium.

The slate concluded Sunday in Indianapolis, where the Colts beat the Carolina Panthers. We got a look at Sam Darnold in a Panthers uniform and how the Colts would replace injured quarterback Carson Wentz.

Jump to a matchup:


PIT-PHI | WSH-NE | BUF-DET


DAL-ARI | TEN-ATL | MIA-CHI | DEN-MIN


CLE-JAX | NYJ-NYG | NO-BAL | HOU-GB



CIN-TB | KC-SF | SEA-LV | LAC-LAR

NFL : Sunday’s game

NFL : Indianapolis Colts 21, Carolina Panthers 18

Standout performer: Colts QB Sam Ehlinger, 155 passing yards, 30 rushing yards

It didn’t matter that the Colts had only two starters — one on offense and one on defense — playing in their preseason opener against Carolina. All eyes centered around the quarterback battle between Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger to be the starter if injured Carson Wentz is not ready to open the season. There’s no clear favorite after Sunday. Eason closed out his playing time by leading the Colts to a touchdown late in the first half, and Ehlinger used a combination of his arm and legs to lead them to the victory. The highlight of Eason’s afternoon came on his final series when he ran the two-minute offense at the end of the first half. He led the Colts on a six-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a Jordan Wilkins 3-yard touchdown run. Ehlinger’s best moment came on the game-tying series that included completions of 47 and 25 yards. Ehlinger tied the game at 18 when he showed off his running skills by keeping the ball on a 2-point conversion. Ehlinger used six-plus minutes off the clock to get the game-winning 30-yard field goal from Eddy Pineiro in the final seconds. — Mike Wells

Next game: at Vikings (8 p.m. ET, Saturday)

Coach Matt Rhule called this a big week for his quarterbacks. Sam Darnold played decently during two joint practices with the Colts and, P.J. Walker put some distance between himself and Will Grier for the backup job during Sunday’s loss. Walker’s biggest negative was he got one touchdown on three trips inside the 20 and four trips inside the 27, not a good sign for a team that struggled in those areas last season. Grier didn’t have a great chance working with third- and fourth-stringers. But Walker clearly has the edge, and he proved why on the next-to-last series of the first half when he took the Panthers 91 yards (3-for-3, 41 yards) for the touchdown — a 7-yard pass to rookie tight end Tommy Tremble. The offensive line had six false starts. — David Newton

Next game: vs. Ravens (7 p.m. ET, Saturday)


NFL : Saturday’s games

NFL : Chicago Bears 20, Miami Dolphins 13

Standout performer: Bears QB Justin Fields, 142 passing yards, one touchdown, 33 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown

The Chicago Bears‘ offense was burn-the-tape bad in Saturday’s first half — Miami outgained Chicago 215 yards to 79 — before rookie quarterback Justin Fields injected life into Soldier Field. Fields (14-of-20 for 142 yards, one touchdown, 33 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown) looked like, well, a rookie, for most of the second quarter when he replaced Andy Dalton, but the first-round pick eventually settled into a groove and caught fire after halftime. As the game wore on, Fields showed terrific command of the pocket, and when he scrambled, he often froze Miami defenders, who were unsure of whether he would throw or take off. Fields’ blazing speed is going to be a huge asset whenever he becomes the starting quarterback. His 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter also showcased his strength — Fields deftly avoided a Miami defender who swiped at him before he took off for the score. Is it just the preseason? Yes. But did Fields show more than enough promise for an NFL debut? Absolutely. — Jeff Dickerson

Next game: vs. Bills (1 p.m. ET, Saturday)

Tua Tagovailoa made only one mistake, but it was costly. The Miami Dolphins‘ starting quarterback had a productive preseason outing until he attempted to thread the needle on a ball in the end zone to Adam Shaheen that Chicago Bears safety DeAndre Houston-Carson stepped in front of and intercepted. That one miscue — which happened to be Tagovailoa’s last play of the afternoon — was the one negative in an otherwise encouraging showing. The 2020 first-round pick finished 8-of-11 for 99 yards as Miami’s offense thoroughly outclassed the Bears until rookie quarterback Fields got hot after halftime. Tagovailoa’s best moment came on a perfectly thrown downfield ball to Mike Gesicki that gained 50 yards. The Dolphins might still have quarterback concerns, but Tagovailoa mostly took a step in the right direction Saturday. — Jeff Dickerson

Next game: vs. Falcons (7 p.m. ET, Saturday)


NFL : Denver Broncos 33, Minnesota Vikings 6

Standout performers: Drew Lock, 5-of-7 passing, 151 yards, 2 TDs; Teddy Bridgewater, 7-of-8 passing, 74 yards, 1 TD

The Denver Broncos wanted to see tempo, productivity and quality decisions from quarterbacks Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater in the preseason opener as the team tries to make a decision on its starter. Coach Vic Fangio has consistently said he hoped the two would make it “as hard a decision as possible.” The two combined for four scores in five possessions as the Broncos did not punt when the two were in the game. It was clear the Broncos can flourish on offense with either quarterback, but especially Lock, when they are more inclined to use some of their bigger personnel groupings, run play-action and keep the run game involved. Lock was calm in the pocket and found the big play — an 80-yard touchdown to KJ Hamler — out of a two-back set. — Jeff Legwold

Next game: at Seahawks (10 p.m. ET, Saturday)

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Drew Lock connects with KJ Hamler and Trinity Benson for six in the first half vs. the Vikings.

This is probably what you’d expect a game to look like when 31 players — 21 starters and several key backups — do not play. More than anything, Saturday’s loss exposed the Vikings’ depth issues across the board. Dakota Dozier, who seemed like a good fit for a backup guard, was replaced by rookie Wyatt Davis four drives into the game, and Davis and was instantly pushed back into quarterback Jake Browning. Minnesota’s linebacker depth, which drew criticism from coach Mike Zimmer last week, is still lacking. Both quarterbacks who played — Browning and Kellen Mond — totaled 79 passing yards. The backups in the secondary are still inexperienced, which should make the Vikings feel extra good about signing veterans Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland, Mackensie Alexander and Xavier Woods to man starting roles. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: vs. Colts (8 p.m. ET, Saturday)


NFL : Cleveland Browns 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 13

Standout performers: Browns QB Kyle Lauletta, 212 passing yards, 2 TDs

Cleveland Browns rookies stole the show in the preseason opener, a 23-13 win over Jacksonville. LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah had a sack, WR Demetric Felton had four catches and safety Richard LeCounte III had an interception. JOK and Felton especially, along with first-round pick Greg Newsome II, are looking like they will play key roles for the Browns this season. — Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Giants (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Not exactly a dynamic debut for Trevor Lawrence in the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ 23-13 loss to Cleveland at TIAA Bank Field. Lawrence got sacked and fumbled on his first snap, failed to lead the offense to any points in two drives and held the ball a bit too long at times. But he also made several good throws, including a 35-yarder to Marvin Jones on a third down. Per NFL NextGen Stats, Lawrence did complete 3 of 4 passes in tight windows — which equaled the best completion percentage on tight-window throws by Jaguars QBs in 2020 — despite being under heavy pressure because of disappointing performances by veteran offensive tackles Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor. Even so, the first-team offense was still more effective under Lawrence than Gardner Minshew. Lawrence led the Jaguars to 74 of their 120 first-half yards and led the only first-half drive into Cleveland territory. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: at Saints (8 p.m. ET, Aug. 23)


NFL : New York Jets 12, New York Giants 7

Standout performers: Jets QB Zach Wilson, 6-of-9 passing, 63 passing yards, 0 TD, 0 INT

Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson gave the New York Jets exactly what they wanted in his preseason debut. He made good decisions, showed poise in the pocket and delivered an efficient performance (6-for-9, 63 yards).

There were no jaw-dropping, off-balance throws, the kind of plays that wowed the Jets’ brass at his BYU pro day. He simply stayed on script and executed the plays as called — baby steps for the presumptive starter. He also showed the ability to orchestrate long drives — 10 and 11 plays in his only two series. The disclaimer: He faced the Giants’ backup defense, so let’s hold off on the parade. Still, this was a really positive step for the Jets’ franchise quarterback. — Rich Cimini

Next game: at Packers (4:25 p.m. ET, Saturday)

The preseason opener didn’t ease any concerns about the New York Giants‘ offensive line in Year 8 of the rebuild. There were struggles in their three drives, especially at the start. Left guard Kenny Wiggins had a whiff, right tackle Matt Peart allowed a sack and left tackle Andrew Thomas didn’t exactly keep Carl Lawson from getting in the backfield on the opening drive. The Giants’ O-line did get better as it progressed, which could provide a shred of optimism, even if it was against lesser competition. Most notably, right guard Will Hernandez had some promising reps as a puller on power runs. Overall, though, the unit remains a massive question mark with the season less than a month away. — Jordan Raanan

Next game: at Browns (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


NFL : Baltimore Ravens 17, New Orleans Saints 14

Standout performers: Ravens QB Tyler Huntley, 77 yards passing, 43 yards rushing, 1 TD

Tyler Huntley took the early lead in the Ravens’ backup quarterback battle, leading a fourth-quarter comeback to secure Baltimore’s 18th straight preseason victory. Huntley scored the winning, 7-yard touchdown and finished 12-of-16 for 77 yards. Beyond the statistics, Huntley’s physical skills fit the Ravens’ style of offense more than Trace McSorley, who got the start in place of Lamar Jackson and was limited by a back spasm issue. McSorley (11-of-18 for 86 yards and one interception) failed to record a first down in his first four drives as Baltimore managed only three long field goals with him. The Ravens could end up keeping all three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster after using a total of four last season. Huntley’s scrambling ability shined on a tough night for Baltimore’s makeshift offensive line, which dealt with another injury. Starting center Bradley Bozeman left in the first half with a right ankle injury. After the game, coach John Harbaugh said Bozeman has a “minor ankle sprain.” — Jamison Hensley

Next game: Next game: at Panthers (7 p.m. ET, Saturday)

Taysom Hill got the start. Jameis Winston had the more impressive drive, capped by a beautiful 8-yard TD pass to WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey. But neither of the New Orleans Saints’ quarterback contenders truly separated themselves in the battle to replace Drew Brees, with each of them throwing an interception as part of New Orleans’ whopping total of six turnovers in a 17-14 loss at Baltimore. Neither interception was egregious (Hill and receiver Ty Montgomery were expecting two different routes on a hot read, while Winston’s slightly underthrown deep ball to Humphrey bounced out of the receiver’s hands). But both QBs made enough nice throws to keep this competition close heading into the second round, with Winston expected to start Aug. 23 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. — Mike Triplett

Next game: vs. Jaguars (8 p.m. ET, Aug. 23)


NFL : Houston Texans 17, Green Bay Packers 7

Standout performers: Texans RB Scottie Phillips, 66 yards, 1 TD on 13 carries

Deshaun Watson did not travel to Green Bay, and all eyes during Houston’s preseason opener against the Packers were on the Texans’ quarterback situation. After one series from Tyrod Taylor (4-of-4 for 40 yards), rookie Davis Mills took over, completing 11 of 22 passes for 112 yards. Mills made a few impressive throws on third down but did throw an interception in the red zone and was inconsistent. Throughout training camp, coach David Culley has talked about the importance for the rookie quarterback to learn from his mistakes. Next week against the Dallas Cowboys will give us a better idea of whether Mills has made progress. While Taylor appears to be the clear-cut starting quarterback for the Texans to start the 2021 season, the real question is, for how long? Taylor is in Houston on a one-year deal, and it’s important that the Texans know what they have in their 2021 third-round pick before next year’s draft. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: Next game: at Cowboys (8 p.m. ET, Saturday)

Jordan Love‘s first NFL start of any kind was exactly that: a start. Not a great one. Not a terrible one. But a decent place to begin. The 2020 first-round draft pick, who didn’t get any preseason action and never even put on a game jersey last year as a season-long inactive, crafted one efficient touchdown drive in which he went 6-for-6 for 89 yards, including a 22-yard scoring pass on a screen. He didn’t get much else done otherwise, gaining only one first down on his six other drives that included 18 plays and just 26 total net yards. Still, he walked off Lambeau Field for the first time with a 110.4 passer rating while playing only the first half. Love should get plenty of more work in the remaining two preseason games because Aaron Rodgers isn’t expected to play at all before the opener. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: Next game: vs. Jets (4:25 p.m. ET, Saturday)


NFL : Cincinnati Bengals 19, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14

Standout performers: Bengals RB Jacques Patrick, 15 carries, 71 yards

The Cincinnati Bengals have made significant investments in their defensive line through every resource available. The Bengals signed a big free agent (Trey Hendrickson), extended a current player on a rookie deal (Sam Hubbard) and used midround picks on promising players (Joseph Ossai, Cam Sample). It’s clear the Bengals should be excited about what that pass rush could look like this season after a 19-14 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Hendrickson and Ossai combined to sack Tom Brady early in the game. Ossai was disruptive up until he was ruled out of the game with a right wrist injury. But the breakout star of the night? Darius Hodge, an undrafted free agent. Hodge had five quarterback hits and 1.5 sacks. He just made a strong case to be one of the final cuts on the 53-man roster. It’s fitting that Sample ended the night with a sack. It was that kind of night for Cincinnati’s pass rush. — Ben Baby

Next game: Next game: at Washington (8 p.m. ET, Friday)

The Bucs’ defense notched four takeaways. Inside linebackers Lavonte David and K.J. Britt and safety Javon Hagan all recovered fumbles. Then inside linebacker Joe Jones pick-sixed Kyle Shurmur in the fourth quarter, setting up a successful two-point conversion from rookie quarterback Kyle Trask to tight end Codey McElroy in the corner of the end zone. While that was the highlight of Trask’s debut, a sack that wound up getting called for unnecessary roughness was the highlight of first-round outside linebacker Joe Tryon’s debut. The call itself was questionable, but Tryon’s disruption all night wasn’t. The defense had way too many missed tackles, though, and the offense had far too many drops. — Jenna Laine

Next game: Next game: vs. Titans (7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday)


NFL : Kansas City Chiefs 19, San Francisco 49ers 16

Standout performers: Chiefs QB Shane Buechele, 8-of-11 passing, 73 yards, 1 rush TD

The starting offensive line played only a couple of possessions against the San Francisco 49ers, but the Kansas City Chiefs had reason to be encouraged by what they saw. The line featured five new starters from last season, including three rookies, but held up well, albeit against a defensive opponent sitting many of its top players. The Chiefs struggled last season to run the ball in short-yardage and goal-line situations but converted twice early with the running game in such situations, once on third-and-2 and once on third-and-1. In addition to rookies Creed Humphrey at center, Trey Smith at right guard and Lucas Niang at right tackle, the Chiefs have a left tackle in Orlando Brown Jr. who is trying to establish himself at his new position. — Adam Teicher

Next game: Next game: at Cardinals (8 p.m. ET, Friday)

Rookie quarterback Trey Lance‘s preseason debut included a lot of the things — both good and bad — that have been evident during his first NFL training camp and, perhaps, a glance at why the Niners have hesitated to call it a full-fledged competition between Lance and starter Jimmy Garoppolo. The good included a strong, accurate deep ball that resulted in an 80-yard touchdown to wideout Trent Sherfield on his second pass attempt. Lance showed the ability to quickly work through his progressions and go to the right place with the ball. But he also missed some throws, took four sacks and threw a pair of passes that were nearly intercepted. All in all, it was about what you’d expect from a tantalizing prospect who hadn’t played a game in 315 days and never at the NFL level. Another key benchmark for Lance will come next week when the 49ers travel to Los Angeles for joint practices with the Chargers. — Nick Wagoner

Next game: Next game: at Chargers (7:30 p.m. ET, Sunday)


NFL : Las Vegas Raiders 20, Seattle Seahawks 7

Standout performers: Raiders QB Nathan Peterman, 29-of-39 passing, 246 passing yards

We already knew that Derek Carr was not going to play in this exhibition opener. There were also doubts about Marcus Mariota, after he missed practice this week with a leg injury, and newly signed Case Cookus. But a full game of Nathan Peterman, the third-stringer, save for one snap? All he did was complete 29 of 39 passes for 246 yards with an interception and, perhaps, showed enough mettle to let the Raiders feel comfortable with him as Carr’s backup should the right trade offer come along for Mariota. Or perhaps Peterman put himself on the trade market. He has, after all, been a starter in the NFL before, even if he did have a rough go of it with Buffalo back in 2017. The guy who played against Seattle in Las Vegas’ 20-7 victory looked much more confident, composed and polished. — Paul Gutierrez

Next game: Next game: at Rams (10 p.m. ET, Saturday)

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Las Vegas’ BJ Emmons runs two yards up the middle of the field for a touchdown to secure the win for the Raiders.

General manager John Schneider’s pregame comments were the latest indication that the Seahawks don’t want to give left tackle Duane Brown a new contract this year. What happened over the next few hours certainly didn’t dissuade Brown from feeling like he deserves one.

Stone Forsythe played three quarters and had the kind of rocky night you’d expect of a rookie sixth-round pick making his NFL debut. Geno Smith, starting at QB with Russell Wilson and the rest of the No. 1 offense sitting, left with a concussion after taking a hard hit in the first quarter. Cedric Ogbuehi or Jamarco Jones would be at left tackle if either were healthy right now, so Forsythe isn’t necessarily the Seahawks’ alternative if Brown is so dug in on his desire for an extension that he’s willing to miss regular-season games without one. Then again, there would be a big drop-off from a Pro Bowler like Brown to any backup. Either way, the Seahawks better hope it doesn’t come to that. — Brady Henderson

Next game: Next game: vs. Broncos (10 p.m. ET, Saturday)


NFL : Los Angeles Chargers 13, Los Angeles Rams 6

Standout performers:Chargers OT Rashawn Slater 21 plays, 0 QB pressures allowed

The Los Angeles Chargers were a disaster on special teams last season and after hiring Derius Swinton as the new special teams coach, it’s clear they still have some things to work out. On one punt return, the Chargers were called for 12 men on the field. On another they only had 10 players but got away with it when KJ Sails got on the field just in time. But they appear to have their kicker situation in check, maybe. Former 49er Tristan Vizcaino kicked two field goals — 21 and 38 yards — in the first half, but on Darius Bradwell‘s 1-yard touchdown run last season’s starter Michael Badgley kicked the extra point. — Shelley Smith

Next game: Next game: vs. 49ers (7:30 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay has opted not to play starters for a fourth consecutive preseason, and this year even some key rotational players and backups also are being kept on the sideline. That left plenty of opportunity Saturday night in a 13-6 loss to the Chargers for rookie wide receiver Tutu Atwell to demonstrate his capabilities. Atwell, a second-round pick from Louisville who missed a portion of training camp on the reserve/COVID-19 list, caught two passes for 21 yards, but more impressively, showed off his speed in the return game. Atwell blew past the coverage for a long punt return, though it was called back because of a penalty. Running back Raymond Calais, a second-year pro, also made his case as a returner, demonstrating his speed on a 46-yard punt return. The young Rams working for special teams roles and roster spots will have another chance to prove their value next Saturday. –Lindsey Thiry

Next game: Next game: vs. Raiders (10 p.m. ET, Saturday)


NFL : Friday’s games

NFL : Buffalo Bills 16, Detroit Lions 15

Standout performer: Bills running back Devin Singletary, 48 total yards, TD

The Bills’ are going to get creative with their defensive line personnel this season. Veteran defensive ends Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison did not play and their absence cleared the way for rookies Greg Rousseau and Carlos Basham to get plenty of run. Buffalo’s most exciting lineup included the Rousseau and 2020 second-round pick AJ Epenesa on the edge with Basham and Efe Obada playing defensive tackle — a lineup that immediately wreaked havoc in Detroit’s backfield. Defensive line was the biggest focal point for the Bills this offseason and the early returns are exciting. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: at Bears (1 p.m. ET, Saturday)

Despite a tough opening drive for new quarterback Jared Goff, he was able to finish the first quarter strong. In limited action, Goff completed 7 of 9 passes for 56 yards with Tyrell Williams and rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown emerging as his primary targets, both catching two passes in the opening quarter. Goff helped engineer an 18-play drive to five different receivers, which is something he’s never done in his regular-season or playoff career with the Los Angeles Rams, per ESPN Stats & Information. He completed 7 of 8 passes on that particular drive to five different receivers, capped by a Lions field goal. — Eric Woodyard

Next game: at Steelers (7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday)


NFL : Arizona Cardinals 19, Dallas Cowboys 16

Standout performer: Cardinals kicker Matt Prater: 4-of-4 FGs, including game winner from 47 yards

If the Cowboys are having a center competition and not telling anybody, Connor Williams did not help himself against the Cardinals. He started at center over Tyler Biadasz and had two poor shotgun snaps and might have contributed to a delay of game penalty in the first two drives. Williams had some issues with his snaps earlier in camp but smoothed that issue over with more experience. Executive vice president Stephen Jones acknowledged the Cowboys could go with their “best five” up front with the assumption being it’s Williams or Biadasz at center. Maybe it is between Williams and Connor McGovern at left guard now. — Todd Archer

Next game: vs. Texans (8 p.m. ET, Saturday)

Despite it being a preseason game against a bland defense, Cardinals second-round pick Rondale Moore lived up to the billing. He showed off his speed, quickness and ability to catch and run throughout his 21 snaps. Moore was used in a variety of ways, whether it was on jet sweeps, short passes or deep balls. Whatever the situation, he produced. If it’s a preview of what’s to come this season, he could end up being one of the Cardinals’ most dynamic offensive players. — Josh Weinfuss

Next game: vs. Chiefs (8 p.m. ET, Friday)


NFL : Tennessee Titans 23, Atlanta Falcons 3

Standout performer: Titans linebacker Rashad Weaver: 1.5 sacks, 3 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 QB hits, 1 PD

Having finished with only 19 sacks last season, it was important for the Titans to show improvement. Rookie outside linebacker Rashad Weaver was one of the players the team added to help in that area. Coach Mike Vrabel said Weaver was one of the players he was most looking forward to seeing and Weaver finished with a tackle for a loss and a half-sack in limited duty during the Titans’ first preseason game. The Titans pass rush was consistently in the Falcons backfield and finished with four sacks. The pass rush will be tested by a much better unit next week during joint practices with the Buccaneers followed by the second preseason game on Saturday. — Turron Davenport

Next game: at Buccaneers (7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday)

One of the biggest questions for the Falcons since before training camp was at left guard. For the majority of camp, Josh Andrews, who signed with the team in the offseason from the Jets, seemed to have the upper hand. Now the Falcons have to figure something out at the position. Andrews had a rough game and as one of the few potential starters to receive playing time, Atlanta has to continue that competition. Perhaps Drew Dalman — who worked at guard but started against Tennessee at center — will re-enter the competition or the team might look to Jalen Mayfield, who has spent camp at right tackle. Whoever plays left guard will look invariably better playing next to left tackle Jake Matthews and center Matt Hennessy (neither played Friday). — Michael Rothstein

Next game: at Dolphins (7 p.m. ET, Saturday)


NFL : Thursday’s games

NFL : Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Philadelphia Eagles 16

Standout performer: Steelers QB Dwayne Haskins: 16-of-22 passing, 161 yards, 1 TD

Dwayne Haskins won this round of the preseason backup quarterback competition with Mason Rudolph in the Steelers’ win against the Eagles. Haskins completed 16 of 22 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. He orchestrated two more touchdown drives and a field goal drive. Haskins had moments when he looked like the first-round quarterback drafted by the Washington Football Team, such as when he threaded the needle to Cody White for an 18-yard gain just before the two-minute warning, but there were other instances when he threw wobbly passes, sailed throws or appeared slow in his decision-making. Rudolph completed 8 of 9 attempts for 77 yards, but had promising drives stalled thanks to two holding penalties against Pat Freiermuth and Trai Turner and a 10-yard sack. The backup quarterback battle is still a long way from over, but on Thursday, Haskins did what Rudolph has not by getting the ball into the end zone. — Brooke Pryor

Next game: vs. Lions (7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday)

Jalen Hurts played two series and ended 3-of-7 for 54 yards (7.7 yards per attempt) with a 69.9 quarterback rating. The biggest thing coach Nick Sirianni wanted to see was an improvement in Hurts’ rhythm throws, and Hurts showed progress in that area, largely getting the ball out on time and with accuracy, particularly on the first series. He was the victim of a couple drops and missed on a deep throw to Quez Watkins that could have been a touchdown, but it was a decent preseason debut for Hurts, who will look to build on the performance when the Eagles host the Patriots next Thursday. Meanwhile, Watkins continues his push for a larger role in the offense. He showed off his jets on a 79-yard catch-and-run late in the first quarter on a pass from Joe Flacco. Watkins has been the Eagles’ offensive star this summer and might just end up in the starting lineup if he keeps it up. — Tim McManus

Next game: vs. Patriots (7:30 p.m. ET, Thursday)


NFL : New England Patriots 22, Washington Football Team 13

Standout performer: Patriots K Quinn Nordin: 3-for-3 FG with a long of 50

Cam Newton started and played the first two series (leading one field goal drive) before Mac Jones replaced him and played the next five series (two FG drives). Newton finished 4-of-7 for 49 yards and wasn’t helped on the opening drive when LT Isaiah Wynn whiffed on DE Chase Young on third down and put Newton in harm’s way. Meanwhile, Jones’ best throw might have been an incompletion, a beautiful deep ball to WR Kristian Wilkerson in the end zone that went off Wilkerson’s hands. Jones finished 13-of-19 for 87 yards, while mostly showing command at the line of scrimmage. Bill Belichick has said Newton is the starter, while leaving open the door for Jones to compete for the job when he shows he’s ready. The gap between them might be closing faster than Belichick anticipated. — Mike Reiss

Next game: at Eagles (7:30 p.m. ET, Thursday)

Defensive end Chase Young finished 2020 strong — and started this year the same way. He forced an incompletion when he turned the corner and pressured Cam Newton in what at first looked like a sack. Young also drew a holding penalty on a run and was in great position to defend a screen because he diagnosed it quickly. Young also made a nice stop using his speed on a second-and-20 run; on the play, he was blocked inside by the tight end, but Young quickly got around him as the play went to the outside. The back cut up, and Young dropped him for a 3-yard gain. He showed a lot of his skill: the ability to win off the edge, awareness on the screen and hustle to keep it to a short gain. He makes flash plays, but also a lot of little ones that make a big difference. — John Keim

Next game: vs. Bengals (8 p.m. ET, Friday)

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