This time, a national-television audience got to see the Patriots' Tim Tebow quarterback experiment.
Round two didn't go any better.
Tebow struggled during extended playing time in last week's preseason opener, and on Friday night he got the entire second half against the Buccaneers, in a game shown nationally on Fox. He struggled again. To say the least.
Two throws, his first one of the game and another on second down in the fourth quarter, were so far away from any target it was hard to tell who he was intending the pass to. In the fourth quarter, he sailed a pass well over Kenbrell Thompkins' head and it was picked off.
His one highlight, before a nice first down run late in the game, was a 15-yard run on a third and 11. It was wiped out because of a holding penalty.
Tebow finished 1-of-7 for minus-1 yard passing. That's in a full half of work. The only completion he had was on a bubble screen that was tackled behind the line of scrimmage. He wasn't responsible for a first down until a 12-yard run at the two-minute warning. He finished with 30 yards rushing, but his rushing ability has never been questioned. He continues to regress as a passer, and if he doesn't reverse that trend he might not be in the NFL much longer. Tebow is now 5-of-19 for 54 yards passing in a little more than four quarters this preseason.
Perhaps the Patriots believe Tebow could help them out in a severe emergency in the regular season, perhaps with a heavy read-option attack, or contribute somewhere other than quarterback. Or, perhaps they feel he can develop as a quarterback if he spends more time in the organization. But right now, it's hard to see what other reason the Patriots would have for keeping him on the 53-man roster.
The thought that Danny Amendola could step right in and replace Wes Welker in the Patriots offense was dubious.
Welker is one of the top slot receivers ever, practically automatic on third down and short.Amendola's meek 8.8-yard per catch average over his career and his lengthy injury history were reasons to wonder if he could just step in and take over for Welker.
Amendola showed against Tampa Bay that he might be up for that challenge.
Amendola had a fantastic game. He found a way to wiggle open on third and 11 and convert for Tom Brady, who masterfully bought time, stepped up in the pocket and hit him in stride for a first down. Later in the drive, Amendola ran a post pattern to the soft spot of the defense and hauled in a 26-yard touchdown. In less than a half, Amendola had six catches for 71 yards.
Amendola might not end up coming close to Welker's production. He has to prove he can stay healthy, and putting up huge numbers in a preseason game against the Buccaneers doesn't mean it was the right move for the Patriots to let Welker go without much of a fight. But if this is what Amendola can do with Brady, and he stays healthy, he is going to catch a ton of passes this season.
It's obvious the Raiders are going to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, but even under that premise their preseason performance against the Saints was rather frightening.
The starting offense couldn't move the ball until a two-minute drill late in the half, with just 48 yards until that final first-half drive. The Raiders had just one first down through 27 minutes. The defense gave up 240 yards and 23 points in the first half. Saints quarterback Drew Brees was 14-of-18 for 202 yards in the first half. And, the Raiders took on three injuries to starters.
Tight end David Ausberry hurt his shoulder. Cornerback Tracy Porter had to be helped back to the locker room with a groin injury. Linebacker Kevin Burnett also limped off, although it might have been a precautionary move to hold him out after that. Add all that to a banged up offensive line that did not play well, especially without left tackle Jared Veldheer, who will undergo surgery for a torn triceps.
The Raiders thankfully had some positive moments at the end of the half. They went on an 11-play, 82-yard drive in the two-minute offense. Denarius Moore hauled in a touchdown pass to make sure Oakland's starters didn't get shut out against the Saints' leaky defense.
Overall, it wasn't a good night for the Raiders. It won't be a very good 2013 season, either.
Buffalo 20, Minnesota 16: While Buffalo can thank Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder for holding the ball way too long on numerous plays, the Bills pass rush did look pretty good, even without end Mario Williams. On the first play, Jerry Hughes beat stellar Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil for a sack, the first of two for Hughes in the game. The Bills had four sacks in the game.
New England 25, Tampa Bay 21: The big story for the Buccaneers was the head injury to running back Doug Martin. He took a knee to the helmet and was pulled out of the game and taken to the locker room. It didn't appear serious, but Tampa Bay will be cautious with him. The positive is that Peyton Hillis played well, getting 73 yards on 18 carries, easing some concerns about the Buccaneers' previously thin backup tailback situation.
New Orleans 28, Oakland 20: The third receiver spot in New Orleans is an important one with how often the Saints pass the ball, and Kenny Stills had a nice outing as he tries to secure that job vacated when Joe Morgan tore his ACL. Stills had four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Probable fourth receiver Nick Toon also had a 56-yard catch, which shows the Saints don't lack receiving options.
San Francisco 15, Kansas City 13: The 49ers don't believe in playing their starters deep into the second quarter of the second preseason game, as most teams do. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick had one four-play drive before he was taken out, after just two pass attempts. Running back Frank Gore had just two carries, although one was an impressive gain of 52 yards. Nearly the entire starting defense was done for the night after one Chiefs drive. That's probably the smart play for a team coming off a Super Bowl appearance.
• The biggest mover of the night was Bills rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, who played well in relief of mostly ineffective Kevin Kolb. The question is if Bills coach Doug Marrone will make the seemingly obvious move now and give Manuel the start in the very important third preseason game. That's more important to Manuel and the Bills offense than whatever benefit can be gained from delaying what appears to be the inevitable decision. Marrone said after the game he hasn't thought about his plan for the third preseason game.
• Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones, a 2012 first-round pick, looked like he could make a nice step forward this season. He had a couple tackles and a sack, and looked like the player the Patriots were expecting when they took him 21st overall last year.
• After a good debut last week, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith wasn't as sharp against the 49ers, his former team. Even though San Francisco pulled out most of its starting defense in the first quarter and the Chiefs starters stayed in for the entire first half, Smith was just 7-of-16 for 62 yards. His numbers would have looked better, however, if it wasn't for multiple drops by his receivers, including a bad one by former first-round pick Jon Baldwin, who finished with no catches.