2022 NFL preseason, Week 3: What We Learned from Saturday’s games

Published: Aug 27, 2022 at 06:06 PM

NFL.com breaks down what you need to know from Week 3 of the 2022 NFL preseason. Catch up on each game’s biggest takeaways using the links below:

  1. Devin Lloyd passes the hammy test. A hamstring injury at the beginning of camp prevented Jacksonville’s No. 27 overall pick from being able to prepare for his rookie season on the field until a couple of days ago. Still, Lloyd told team reporter Ashlyn Sullivan on Thursday that he would be ready to go Week 1 and expressed a desire to get a tune-up in the preseason finale against the Falcons. The off-ball linebacker got his wish on Saturday. Lloyd logged 26 snaps in Atlanta and was tied for the team lead in tackles with five at the time he called it a day. He consistently completed plays to the whistle and was active in assisting on tackles. During Atlanta’s second drive, Lloyd streaked around a block toward the sideline and pushed Qadree Ollison out of bounds before the Falcons RB could turn a 7-yard gain upfield for a much larger one. The play showed impressive closing speed, and it served as one of several reasons to be optimistic that Lloyd will make good on his declaration Sept. 11.
  2. Desmond Ridder faces adversity, overcomes it. The Falcons’ rookie quarterback experienced his first interception of the preseason on the first play of the game — a rushed throw under pressure that was well behind Damiere Byrd on a crosser. Ridder responded by completing all five of his passes on the following possession, taking the offense 75 yards on 15 plays that culminated in a 2-yard touchdown pass to running back Tyler Allgeier. His arm showed pop, and he displayed the accuracy to match as he fit multiple balls into tight windows throughout the game. Although the offense did go stagnant for the remainder of the first half, Ridder opened the third quarter with a pinpoint 35-yard connection to Frank Darby from the shadow of his own end zone. The Falcons would eventually punt, but Ridder guided scoring drives of 75 and 85 yards directly after. He finished the game 14-of-21 for 185 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs, with the second pick coming on a “what the heck” heave to end the second quarter. Marcus Mariota‘s starting job is safe. There’s no question of that. But Ridder is flashing the intangibles teams crave. He’s well on schedule.
  1. Bengals can’t convert in red zone. While it was nice to see second-year kicker Evan McPherson continue to impress with his foot, converting on all three field goal opportunities, the Bengals had multiple red-zone opportunities in the first half, getting oh so close to a touchdown three times before having to settle for just the three points. Quarterback Brandon Allen looked to be in control early, tossing a 32-yard pass on the first play of the second drive to set up first-and-goal from the 8-yard line, but the Bengals couldn’t convert, and after Allen was sacked on third down, the kicking unit came out. Twice more the offense marched down the field, and twice more they were unable to cross the goal line, most notably when they appeared to have scored a touchdown with six seconds left before the half, but offensive pass interference nullified the score, and the Bengals entered the locker room with the lead, but without a touchdown. Cincinnati finally found the end zone on its last drive of the game, ensuring the win.
  2. Rookie WR completes stellar preseason. Lance McCutcheon‘s impressive play continued in Saturday’s finale, where the undrafted rookie wide receiver put the final touches on his first preseason. McCutcheon had already impressed in Los Angeles’ first two games, collecting 87 and 96 receiving yards, respectively, and he continued to be a consistent and dynamic presence on the offense versus the Bengals. He hauled in five catches for 76 yards, including a 32-yard gain on the only touchdown drive of the evening. McCutcheon ends this preseason with 259 total receiving yards and two touchdowns. Though the Rams have an surplus of wide receiver options to choose from when final cuts are made next week, McCutcheon has definitely done all he can to prove he should be one of the players chosen for the Week 1 roster.
  1. Treylon Burks overcomes injury. It was unclear at first whether the Titans’ 2022 first-round pick would be participating in the preseason finale, after missing some practice this week with an undisclosed injury. But Burks did take the field, and had two catches for 19 yards early in the game before leaving during the second drive with a wrist injury. Though Burks was listed as questionable to return, he eventually rejoined his teammates near the end of the first half and immediately made his presence felt, catching a pass over the middle from quarterback Malik Willis and running it into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown. Hopefully the injury issues don’t pop up again for Burks, as he’s got a chance to be a consistent contributor this season if he continues to play as he did Saturday.
  2. Isabella makes his case. With depth at wide receiver a bit of a question for the Cardinals going into the season, Andy Isabella has emerged as a big preseason target for Arizona, possibly putting the fourth-year player in position for a breakout year. Isabella had 111 receiving yards in the first two preseason games and surpassed that total on Saturday versus the Titans, making five catches for 115 yards. Most of that yardage came on one 74-yard play, where Isabella cut across the middle and grabbed a pass about 10 yards up the field, managing to shake off two defenders for a big gain before being taken down at the 2-yard line. Isabella has only seen limited usage by the Cardinals in three years, something that’s caused some tension between the player and his team, but if he can make the Week 1 roster and continue the playmaking abilities he’s shown this preseason, he might be in line for a bigger role in Arizona’s game plan.

Washington Commanders
  1. Robinson flies as a Raven. Demarcus Robinson made his debut as a Raven Saturday night, and opened up his career in Baltimore in a big way. The former Chiefs wide receiver had a field day against the Commanders’ defense, racking up 135 yards on just four catches. Robinson’s big play ability was on display from his first catch, where he shook the cornerback on a quick double move to create a wide-open opportunity for quarterback Anthony Brown to find him for a 67-yard touchdown. Robinson added on three more catches, with his final grab of the evening a 52-yarder that kicked off another touchdown drive for Baltimore. Robinson’s only been a Raven for a couple days, but he’s already making an impact.
  2. Howell leads Washington in rushing. Rookie quarterback Sam Howell, the assumed No. 3 quarterback in the Commanders’ locker room, played the entire game for Washington in its final preseason outing, and despite leaving Baltimore with a loss, the rookie out of UNC actually had a pretty good day. Howell was 24-of-35 passing for 280 yards and a touchdown, and also contributed with his feet, carrying the ball eight times for a total of 62 yards, more than any other player had on the night. Howell even managed to escape a third-down sack in the third quarter, spinning out of the tackle and scrambling 8 yards for the first down. One of the main reasons Howell wasn’t able to do more with the offense was the constant pressure from the defense, as he was sacked five times and hit 12 times. While Carson Wentz has been named the Week 1 starter and Taylor Heinicke is also ahead of Howell on the depth chart, the rookie definitely showed he’s not to be discounted, and that if the situation arose, he could be a suitable option for the Commanders.
  1. Dolphins open with a bang. Miami’s Tua-Tyreek tandem finally saw the field Saturday and immediately flashed its potential. Tagovailoa threw deep to Hill, trailed by two Eagles defenders, on his very first play for a 51-yard gain; Hill, who hit a league preseason-high 21.72 mph on the route, had to adjust to make the catch and snatched the 46.5-air yards pass inches from the ground, salvaging the statement-making opening attempt. Tua went right back to the Hill well on the next play, hitting the receiver in stride on a play-action boot to the left for 13 yards. Tagovailoa closed Miami’s best drive of the preseason with a TD pass to River Cracraft on a corner route. Hill was removed from the game after just three snaps, while Tua remained in for three scoring drives. They had shown enough. If there was concern that Tagovailoa’s well-publicized practice connection with Hill wouldn’t translate to the field, the Dolphins dispelled that early Saturday evening.
  2. Huntley runs away with roster spot? The Eagles never recovered from the above opening setback. Playing without starters on both sides of the ball, Philly was overmatched in nearly every respect. At the end of a week where Miami had numerous players come down with a stomach bug, the Eagles were the ones looking sickly Saturday — aside from backup running back Jason Huntley, who is on the fringes of the roster ahead of cutdown day. Huntley had the play of the preseason for Philly, breaking four tackles and keeping his balance near the sideline on a 67-yard touchdown rush in the fourth quarter. Prior to that run, Huntley, a third-year player, had 70 rushing yards total on 24 carries in the preseason. Behind Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell on the depth chart, Huntley made his case to make the 53-man roster with one run and a number of stiff arms.
  1. Justin has a Fields day. In extended action in his final appearance before the start of his second season, Justin Fields saved his best for last. The Bears signal-caller played nearly the entire first half, leading three touchdown drives in five attempts against a number of Browns starters. Fields got nearly a dozen teammates involved, not just WR1 Darnell Mooney. The QB threw three TDs to three different players (TEs Cole Kmet and Ryan Griffin, WR Dante Pettis) and completed 14 of 16 attempts for 156 yards to 10 pass catchers overall. The apparent lack of depth at skill positions in Chicago has been a focal point for critics during the Bears’ offseason. But against legitimate competition, Fields thrived, in and out of the pocket, with who he had at his disposal, a positive sign as Chicago enters what figures to be a challenging campaign.
  2. Brissett makes Browns debut. On the other sideline, the same could not be said of Jacoby Brissett, playing in his only preseason game as he prepares to be Browns QB1. Brissett failed to lead a TD drive against Chicago, though he was playing without both of his starting running backs and star wideout Amari Cooper. The veteran backup established a strong connection with rookie David Bell (three catches for 36 yards) on a second-quarter FG drive, but otherwise had little to show for his efforts Saturday night. Brissett finished 13-of-23 for 109 yards and an interception; the pick, which came in Bears territory, was intended for Anthony Schwartz on a rub route before the wideout was hit and slipped. The Browns have not yet fully shown what their offense will look like with Brissett at the controls, but Saturday’s introduction was not inspiring.
  1. Brady looks like Brady on his lone drive. Tom Brady returned from his late-summer vacation earlier this week and played his first and only preseason snaps Saturday night in Indianapolis. In one drive, Brady looked as he has for the last two decades: solid, efficient, LFG TB12. The Buccaneers signal-caller led a four-and-a-half-minute, 66-yard drive ending in a field goal. Brady spread the wealth on the march, completing six of eight pass attempts to six different receivers. Highlights of Brady’s short night included a fourth-down conversion to Tyler Johnson over the middle and an ensuing 20-yard comebacker to Bucs newcomer Julio Jones. All is well under center in Tampa Bay, as if there was ever any doubt. As for who will play center, that’s another question. Robert Hainsey, who was filling in for the injured Ryan Jensen, exited with an ankle injury; reserve OL Nick Leverett also left with a shoulder injury. It’s not clear how serious the injuries are, but their exits underscored how fragile life could be for Brady in his 23rd season in the league.
  2. Ehlinger runs away with QB3. With Matt Ryan and Nick Foles as Indy’s surefire QB1 and QB2, the Colts don’t need to retain a third quarterback on the roster. But Sam Ehlinger, a second-year gunslinger from Texas, is making a case to back up his Super Bowl-experienced teammates. While all four signal-callers played Saturday, including Jack Coan, Ehlinger led the most scoring drives (2) and provided the most highlight reel-worthy play of the night, a 45-yard scoring scramble on his second snap in the game. The Colts QB found plenty of daylight to his right before juking two defenders and breaking two tackles to dive across the goal line. It was an electric exclamation point on what has been a nice preseason for Ehlinger. Now the question is will he be baaaaack in the building after cutdown day?
  1. Broncos run all over Vikings. The Broncos’ running game was basically nonexistent in their first two preseason games, as without the main players Denver came up with 39 and 38 rushing yards, respectively. But versus the Vikings it was a different story. The Broncos’ backup running backs, most of whom are fighting for one of the coveted spots on the 53-man roster, put together a total of 148 yards rushing and averaged 5.9 yards per attempt in the game, a much more encouraging sign about the depth at the RB position. All three running backs had at least four carries and 23 yards, but Mike Boone was the standout, averaging 8.8 yards per carry on five attempts. With Saturday marking the final chance for players to prove themselves before teams have to make final cuts, the Broncos’ bubble running backs put together a strong collective showing.
  2. Punter shows off leg. Rookie punter Ryan Wright, who just won the punting competition over Jordan Berry earlier this week, showed why he was given the starting job when he had a total of 225 yards punting on four attempts. He had one go 71 yards (though it went into the end zone), and another go 68 yards before settling at the 2-yard line. Besides the one touchback, Wright’s other three punts each landed inside the Broncos 10-yard line. The Vikings kicker, Greg Joseph, also impressed in his appearances, making a 58-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that looked like it could have even gone for a bit more. Kicking and punting aren’t always the most news-worthy aspects of the game, but Joseph and Wright turned their kicks into highlights Saturday night.

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