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Preseason Week 3: Thursday Night Football

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Green Bay 27, Cincinnati 13

Green Bay

In case you forgot, Aaron Rodgers is a stud. In this game he reminded us of his athleticism, gaining 52 yards on six rushes with two touchdowns.

Alex Green started in the Green Bay backfield but was quickly replaced by Cedric Benson. Making his Packers debut, Benson played nearly the entire first half looking solid while averaging just better than six yards per carry. We should also note that Benson received a goal line carry, although unable to convert. With rumors of James Starks on the roster bubble, Benson has sudden appeal as a mid RB3 with upside.

Greg Jennings returned for the Packers after dealing with lingering concussion issues. Jennings would prove he’s ready by leading his team with 37 yards receiving, including a sick tippy-toe catch along the sidelines.  

Cincinnati

Andy Dalton had a tough outing as the Packers defense came to play. Green Bay was getting consistent pressure throughout the first half with multiple blitz packages as Dalton took a number of big hits. In case you didn’t see this game, Dalton just missed a wide open A.J. Green for a deep pass that would have resulted in an 80-yard touchdown. Just saying.

The continued absence of BenJarvus Green-Ellis (turf toe) should begin raising concerns. Also absent was backup running back Bernard Scott, giving way once again to Cedric Peerman and Brian Leonard for the second straight game. Neither has fantasy value.

Baltimore 48, Jacksonville 17

Baltimore

Joe Flacco had a great game force feeding wide receiver Torrey Smith, who garnered 11 targets for the Ravens in just over one-half of play, 11! Smith caught eight of those balls for 103 yards. It’s overtly obvious that Flacco is a much, much better quarterback with Smith in the lineup, but remains a mid/high QB2 with spot start potential.

Anquan Boldin has clearly lost a step, but is still effective utilizing his body to shield off defenders and catch the ball underneath. Boldin is a low-end WR3.

Ray Rice didn’t play long, giving way to Chris Rainey and Bernard Pierce. Both Rainey and Pierce had a solid performance, adding confusion to which player will develop into the Rice handcuff, giving us reason to monitor Week 4 of the preseason. 

Jacksonville

Blaine Gabbert got the full brunt of one of the league’s best defensive units as all the Ravens’ key players were in the game. Despite the low score, Gabbert again played at a high level, continually hooking up with rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Blackmon would finish the game totaling 72 yards on four receptions and I now have him pegged as a bonafide sleeper entering 2012.

The prolonged holdout of Maurice Jones-Drew has held open the door for Rashad Jennings to start in Jacksonville. Jennings’ solid play throughout the preseason continued, picking up 57 yards on 15 carries. Jennings value is dependent on the return of Jones-Drew, but certainly worth a later-round flier.

Tennessee 32, Arizona 27

Tennessee

How about the bounceback play from Titans quarterback Jake Locker. One game removed for a pathetic Week 2 performance, Locker completed 11-of-20 pass attempts for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Being from Seattle, I know this young man better than most and I can attest to his immeasurable heart, work ethic, determination and toughness. He will win games at the pro level, but is still not fantasy worthy.

Chris Johnson continues to find it tough running, continually hindered by subpar run blocking. The Titans need to be more creative and find alternate means to get Johnson the ball in open space. Backups Darius Reynaud and Jamie Harper continue to impress, albeit against opposing team’s second-string defense.

Arizona

The questions circling the Cardinals starting quarterback remains unanswered. John Skelton took first team looks but threw an ugly interception on the Cardinals’ opening possession. Kevin Kolb took over in the middle of second quarter only to throw an ugly interception of his own. Kolb would put together a sustained touchdown drive just before halftime, but returned to the game in the third quarter only to throw another terrible interception. Neither quarterback has seized the opportunity, as Skelton has proven to be the better of two evils.

Ryan Williams started the game managing a mediocre 15 yards on three carries. Chris “Beanie” Wells replaced Williams, but was only able to muster 12 yards on six rushing attempts. In fact, third-string running back William Powell looks to be the most complete player running like his hair’s on fire picking up yardage in huge chunks.

The limiting factor to this Arizona team could be the porous play of the offensive line. This unit has been downright terrible in both run and pass blocking as all viable Cardinals players should be downgraded accordingly.