Washington 7, Buffalo 6
The highlight of this matchup was the preseason debut of RGIII. After a slow start, on the Skins 3rd possession Griffin hooked up with Pierre Garcon twice, including a 20-yard screen pass for a touchdown. Based on this one performance it was clear the “French Waiter” is Griffin’s favorite target as the Skins newest playmaker accumulated three receptions for 58 yards a one TD.
As promised by head coach Mike Shanahan, the Skins started running back Evan Royster who remained in the game alongside the starting unit. Royster put together a rather pedestrian performance highlighted by a fumbled handoff from Griffin on Washington’s second series. Royster was eventually replaced by 2nd year man Roy Helu who also had a lackluster performance. Given Shanahan’s strong ties to the RBBC it would be hard to rely on any Skins RB at this juncture.
Oddly reminiscent of last season, the Bills offense came out of the gates very slow. However, the absence of Fred Jackson, and the limited role of CJ Spiller accounts for the Bills’ shortcomings. Fitzpatrick was able to hook up with Stevie Johnson for a 20-yard touchdown, only to be called back after an illegal formation (it speaks to Buffalo’s poor performance when the only highlight is a negated touchdown).
Falcons 17, Baltimore 31
The Falcons have been promising all offseason that they are going to “throw the football”, and they delivered in spades. Matt Ryan opened the game on fire hooking up multiple times with both Roddy White and Julio Jones. Jones capped off the opening drive with a back of the endzone TD. Early indications have every member of the Falcons’ aerial attack in store for a productive fantasy season.
Starting running back Michael Turner was relatively ineffective looking sluggish. Turner was later replaced by backup Jacquizz Rodgers who was a much more efficient runner showing mobility and strength including scoring the Falcons second TD in a goal line situation. Turner’s fantasy value continues to slide.
The Baltimore offense began the game very anemic as their first 1st down didn’t come until the 2nd quarter. Rice had little room to run on the opening series, but didn’t play after that. It’s never a good sign when the starting lineup stays in the game into the 2nd quarter of preseason game one.
On the bright side, the Ravens would put together a long scoring drive capped off by a touchdown from tight end Ed Dickson. Wide receiver Torrey Smith also performed admirably and looks ready to step into his role as the Ravens leading wide receiver. Update: Smith emerged from the game with an apparent ankle injury and will miss a few weeks. Fortunately, we are still in the preseason, but certainly worth monitoring.
Philadelphia 23, Pittsburgh 24
The Eagles 1st-team offense was nonexistent. Shady McCoy had one carry for minus-2 yards, DeSean Jackson caught one pass for 4-yards and Jeremy Maclin did not play due to an apparent hamstring injury. In fact, the biggest news from the Eagle performance was the hand injury to Michael Vick after smacking his hand on the helmet of his center. X-rays have come back negative.
Despite concerns of a shoulder issue, Big Ben started the game marching his team down the field for an opening field goal. Starting for the Steelers at tailback was Isaac Redman (more confirmation than newsworthy). Playing only one series Redman caught a pass out of the backfield, churned out some tough yards and even converted a short yardage 4th-and-1. This information reaffirms the notion that Redman will be the Steelers’ starter, and goal line runner. Jonathan Dwyer replaced Redman in the 2nd possession and is now considered the primary handcuff.
I know that many won’t highlight Antonio Brown’s two receptions for 21 yards, but the talent is as obvious as a supermodel walking down the freeway naked. After each catch Brown quickly converts into a “punt returner” looking to turn up field and extend the play with extra yardage. His offseason hype is warranted.