2022 NFL preseason, Week 2: What We Learned from Saturday’s games

Published: Aug 20, 2022 at 05:17 PM

NFL.com breaks down what you need to know from Week 2 of the 2022 NFL preseason. Catch up on each game’s biggest takeaways using the links below:

  1. Dayo Odeyingbo figuring it out. The second-year edge rusher caused problems in Week 1 against Buffalo, registering five pressures in the game, and improved on that outing by recording two sacks in Saturday’s loss to Detroit. Even without the usual starters, Indianapolis’ defensive front created plenty of pressure up front, and none was better than Odeyingbo, a rotational rusher who has raw talent and is evidently starting to uncover it. If he can carry this positive momentum into the regular season, the Colts will be that much better up front.
  2. Lions’ practice work pays off. A segment of Hard Knocks showed Detroit working on its two-minute offense during training camp, a period that ended with a touchdown and congratulations for Jared Goff and Co. Goff didn’t play Saturday, but that didn’t mean Detroit suddenly wouldn’t be able to execute. Instead, David Blough led a 12-play, 54-yard scoring drive that culminated in a buzzer-beating touchdown pass to Tom Kennedy. Detroit followed that up with another scoring march to open the second half, with Tim Boyle replacing Blough and going 61 yards in seven plays, ending in another touchdown pass to Kennedy. As the Lions continue to work toward becoming a contending team, it’s good to see their practice-field efforts paying off in game scenarios.
  1. No Daboll, no problem. Buffalo’s offense rolled all afternoon, no matter who was on the field. Josh Allen worked a little pocket magic before hooking up with Gabe Davis for an electrifying touchdown, Zack Moss ran well for a second straight week and James Cook ripped off a couple of nice gains that resembled the renowned style of his older brother, Dalvin. It seemed as if no matter who was on the field, offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey had this offense running like a well-oiled machine. They might not miss their former OC that much after all.
  2. Interesting situation at tight end for Broncos. Denver’s rookie, Greg Dulcich, was unable to play due to a hamstring injury, which meant Albert Okwuegbunam — better known as Albert O — got a full game’s worth of work. He shined, catching four of five targets for 32 yards, but his participation revealed a potential weakness at the position. Dulcich shouldn’t miss much more time, but seeing an expected starter essentially play an entire preseason game is a little concerning, even if he could use the work, as Nathaniel Hackett said afterward.
  1. Running back duel escalates. We had a surprising development even before the opening kickoff. RB Antonio Gibson, who is in a battle for his starting job, was back to receive the kickoff. He didn’t play a single regular-season snap on special teams his first two seasons and last returned kickoffs at Memphis in 2019. Then third-rounder Brian Robinson, the man trying to take Gibson’s job, came on the field to start at running back. On the opening series, Robinson had three carries to Gibson’s one and finished with eight carries. When the second-team offense took the field, Gibson was out there. Give Gibson credit: He ran hard and made some plays in the game, including a pretty 22-yard reception to set up a Commanders TD. But no matter how much Ron Rivera might downplay or spin it, there’s a real chance we’re witnessing a changing of the guard at RB1 in D.C.
  2. Bolton leads defense. Sure, Patrick Mahomes and the offense dazzled on his two drives, traveling 87 and 82 yards, respectively, both ending in touchdowns to converted TE Jody Fortson. But the Chiefs’ defense deserves mention, too, namely LB Nick Bolton. He might not have been the draft pick every Kansas City fan wanted at the time, but boy has he come into his own. Bolton played only two series, leading the way with three tackles (one on Gibson in the backfield for a loss) in his time on the field. But Bolton’s best play was breaking up a third-down pass to Washington’s Curtis Samuel. The Chiefs appeared to keep Bolton on the field all three downs both series, including as the sole linebacker on third-and-long. If Bolton takes another step up in pass coverage, he might be on the verge of an All-Pro season.
  1. McGill making moves. Minnesota should have the horses up front to stop the run this season with Harrison Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson. But do they have any pass-rush juice on the interior? That remains unclear, but there might be an unlikely source we need to consider. With 1.5 sacks against the 49ers, T.Y. McGill is now up to 3.5 for the preseason following a two-sack effort last week vs. the Raiders. McGill is a journeyman and a sawed-off, stumpy rusher at 6-foot, 298 pounds. He also only has a mere half-sack over the past five seasons combined, bouncing between five different teams (including a late-season cup of coffee with the Vikings in 2021). But if McGill can keep up his August effort, which reportedly has included a strong effort in camp, he might not only make the Vikings’ 53-man roster but also provide a little pressure if called on.
  2. Kinlaw’s killing it. Is Javon Kinlaw ready to bust out? The 49ers seem to think so. After a promising rookie year, Kinlaw’s 2021 season was cut short. But if the measure of health for a defensive lineman coming off a knee injury is explosiveness, Kinlaw looked absolutely fit on a first-quarter sack of the Vikings’ Kellen Mond inside his own 5-yard line. This did not look like a player with 1.5 sacks in 18 NFL games, not to mention one coming off a torn ACL. Kinlaw has been ramping up his activity in recent weeks, and he certainly looks, ahem, chiseled. One of the first teammates to greet Kinlaw after the sack was edge rusher Nick Bosa, who couldn’t hold back his excitement — and who really could benefit from Kinlaw breaking out. If he can show this type of burst in the regular season, the 49ers’ front could again be in exceptional shape.
  1. Cornerback concerns. If the Dolphins have an area where depth is an issue, it might be at cornerback. Starters Byron Jones and Xavien Howard are two of the league’s better ones when healthy. But neither of them played Saturday against the Raiders, though, and it showed. Las Vegas’ second-team offense steamrolled down the field on the opening series, 75 yards on 12 plays, for a TD against Miami’s starting defense. Former first-rounder Noah Igbinoghene was beaten for two first downs on crossing patterns. Mike McDaniel has said he wants the former 2020 first-rounder — who is still only 22 years old, believe it or not — to be more aggressive after enduring two tough seasons. But that didn’t show up early versus Vegas. More potentially bad news came in the game with an early injury to CB Nik Needham, who grabbed his left hand after a tackle and went into the locker room. With Trill Williams‘ injury a week ago, Jones slow to return from offseason surgery and Igbinoghene’s continued struggles, Miami’s CB depth looks a bit concerning.
  2. Is it too early to call Alex Leatherwood a bust? Probably yes. But a big disappointment? Absolutely — to this point, anyway. Following a tough rookie season, the former No. 17 overall pick struggled against the Dolphins on Saturday as the Raiders rotated their tackles, seeking to iron out their starting five and prime reserves. Can the Raiders count on Leatherwood in either role this season? Pass protection continues to be his biggest bugaboo, allowing multiple pressures. Although the Raiders will say they wanted to see Jackson Barton and Jermaine Eluemunor receive OT reps, it was hard not to think that briefly benching Leatherwood (before bringing him back in later) was as much a move to help keep QB Nick Mullens from getting killed. Leatherwood came into camp as an assumed starter. But it’s just hard to see Josh McDaniels trusting him to start this season unless OL injuries mount or Leatherwood figures it out. Quickly.
  1. Malik Willis is learning but still needs time. The third-round quarterback out of Liberty lacks the polish to generate even a whisper about Ryan Tannehill‘s starting job, but he did respond to head coach Mike Vrabel taking him out of last week’s debut due to scrambling too often. Things especially clicked once Willis eased into the rhythm of the game. The most promising play for Willis’ future as a franchise QB came on the Titans’ fifth drive, which started on their own eight-yard line. With the pocket collapsing from both sides as he stood at the mouth of the end zone, Willis nimbly slipped out of danger. At that point, he could have tucked and ran. Willis instead kept his eyes downfield, pulled up short of the line of scrimmage and fired a side-arm dart to WR Dez Fitzpatrick for 18 yards of breathing room. The exclamation point on Willis’ night was again thanks to his throwing ability. Gifted a short field two possessions later thanks to a Joe Jones interception, Willis closed the first half by stepping up in the pocket and squeezing a ball tight to TE Chigoziem Okonkwo for a six-yard TD pass — the first of Willis’ career. The teachings of camp appear to be taking root.
  2. Preseason Lenny looks good to go. With all the overblown talk regarding Leonard Fournette‘s playing weight as training camp got underway, people seemed to forget that the sixth-year running back is a force to be reckoned with no matter the number on the scale. Tampa Bay used its lead back as an early focal point against Jacksonville. Fournette took the team’s first three touches from scrimmage, amassing 18 yards on two runs and a catch before the drive stalled out a play later. Fournette touched the ball on half of the plays on the Bucs’ next drive, which lasted four plays, and twice again on a three-and-out later in the first quarter. Tampa Bay’s offense failed to move the ball through other outlets, but that will only be concerning if Brady’s indefinite leave of absence is to linger closer to Week 1. Fournette, meanwhile, looked both fleet of foot through his running lanes and eager for contact during his three drives of action. Fournette took a seat after rushing for 20 yards on five attempts and collecting two catches for six yards.
  1. Trevor trending upward. Year two for Trevor Lawrence has been increasingly exciting with each passing preseason week. The quarterback was dialed in Saturday night, firing a few ropes just over the outstretched hands of defenders with placement equal to only the best passers on the planet. Lawrence wowed viewers with his accuracy and powered the Jaguars offense, which moved with relative ease but repeatedly came up short in the red zone. That’s the hurdle Jacksonville has yet to clear, but it’s already evident that Lawrence is in a better place now under Doug Pederson.
  2. Pickett poised for promotion? Kenny Pickett was informed he’d be getting more “varsity” action this week, and although his teammates’ rash of penalties made his initial snaps look more like junior varsity, he was able to overcome those minor mistakes with some major moxie. Jacksonville saw red when No. 8 took the field late in the first half, sending plenty of blitzes after the rookie quarterback, yet he remained unfazed. Pickett completed 6 of 7 passes for 76 yards, standing in the pocket to repeatedly deliver under duress, and engineered a fantastic two-minute drill, covering 63 yards in five plays and just 42 seconds. He even had to throw two touchdowns for one to count — again, due to penalties elsewhere — and each time, he handled it well. There’s reason to believe he just might have a shot at this job after all.
  1. Turpin turns on the jets. Wide receiver KaVontae Turpin was a star in the USFL before being signed by Dallas last month, and was known for the receiving and kick returns which earned him 2021 USFL MVP honors. Looking to find his way onto the Cowboys’ 53-man roster in a few weeks, Turpin again showcased his incredible abilities on special teams Saturday night, collecting a couple of monster plays to help Dallas to victory. He first took the field to return a kickoff in the first quarter, and after catching the ball at the 2-yard line the 26-year-old proceeded to take it all the way back for a 98-yard touchdown return, weaving between defenders without being touched before breaking free and sprinting to the end zone. It was the longest play so far this preseason, and Turpin wasn’t done yet. Turpin set up to return a punt with under a minute left in the first half, and once again used his shiftiness and speed to dodge defenders and bring it to the house for a 86-yard TD play. Some players can find their way onto a roster by contributing on special teams, and Turpin definitely set himself up well with his performance this week.
  2. Palmer makes some big plays. Wide receiver Josh Palmer is looking to move into a more prominent role in Los Angeles’ receiving corps this season, and on Saturday the 2021 third-round pick showed grit and big-play ability that could help him get that job. On the first play of the Chargers’ second drive, Palmer got separation from the defender, leaping up and making a difficult grab to haul in a 41-yard pass from quarterback Easton Stick. Palmer added on another 16-yard catch a few plays later, setting up Los Angeles for its first score of the night. On the next drive, Palmer again showcased his talent for creating big plays, catching a screen pass before finding a hole and sprinting to the end zone, even dragging a defender the last few yards before crossing the goal line. Finishing the game with three receptions for 75 yards and a score, Palmer definitely looked ready for a breakout sophomore season.

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