Monday night's preseason clash between the Browns and Redskins was the headline of the sports night in America. That was before the teams stepped on the field. Once they were on it, the quarterbacks showed us how not to play the position. The ones for the Browns were particularly bad.
This was the game that was supposed to decide the quarterback competition in Cleveland. Brian Hoyer got the start but totally face-planted with his two possessions. Luckily for him, Johnny Manziel wasn't any better. They each played two series in the first half against Washington's starters and went a combined 4-of-13 passing for 45 yards. Hoyer threw a ball at his receiver's feet on the opening possession, one behind Jordan Cameron, and then missed a wide-open Andrew Hawkins in the end zone to end his night. Manziel went three-and-out on his first possession before picking up a couple first downs on his second. He made a nice toss to MarQueis Gray while under pressure in his own end zone, but Johnny Football didn't have much success until the second half against backups. He led a 16-play touchdown drive that saw Dion Lewis score on a catch-and-run.
Following the game, coach Mike Pettine said "all the options are still on the table" in the Browns' quarterback battle, and that he'd have to first watch the tape. It'll be hard for Pettine to name a starter this week after Monday night's disastrous performance. We're likely to see another rotation in Cleveland's third preseason game later this week. And we'd have to consider Hoyer the frontrunner still in this competition. He's the veteran and has always seemed to be the preferred option. Manziel had an opportunity to take the job by the throat, but couldn't capitalize. Look for it to drag out for another week.
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Browns at Redskins Observations
Robert Griffin III's footwork needs some major work. His interception was a flutter-ball thrown off his back foot in the face of pressure. Easy pickings for Joe Haden. RGIII also needs to learn how to slide and get out of bounds. He took far too many unnecessary hits for a preseason game and even came up limping after one of them when his knee/leg got rolled up awkwardly. RGIII is a middle-of-the-pack QB1 option at a position littered with them. … Ben Tate is the clear lead dog in the Browns' backfield. He out-touched rookie Terrance West 10-1 in the first half and ran exclusively with the ones. Tate is averaging 4.75 YPC this preseason. He's a value pick at his late-fifth-round ADP. … After having next to no depth at receiver last season, the Redskins have some players to work with behind Pierre Garcon. Rookie Ryan Grant was particularly impressive with the second-team offense. He's drawn rave reviews for his hands and route running all summer, and it showed Monday. … Josh Gordon had a night to forget. He dropped a couple passes and legitimately seemed disinterested in the game.
News of the Day
Matt Cassel has started each of the Vikings' first two preseason games, and has looked like the quarterback that landed him a mega-contract in Kansas City years ago. He's completed 17-of-22 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown this exhibition season. Cassel is the clear favorite to be under center come Week 1, barring a meltdown in Minnesota's tune-up for the regular season this week. Cassel has shown excellent command of Norv Turner's offense and looks like a natural fit in the scheme. Teddy Bridgewater will without a doubt make starts as a rookie; I mean, we are talking about Matt Cassel here. But Bridgewater's going to be holding the clipboard for the opener.
The Cardinals got a dose each of bad news and good news on Monday. First, Tyrann Mathieu (knee) is expected to be activated from the active/PUP list Tuesday and begin practicing with the team. There's reportedly "some optimism" he'll be ready for Week 1. At Cardinals practice Monday, LE Darnell Dockett tore his ACL and will miss the season. Arizona has now lost Dockett, Daryl Washington, and Karlos Dansby from last year's stout defense. They're going to be a group to exploit in fantasy matchups.
Rob Gronkowski (knee) took part in 11-on-11 drills Monday for the first time, and said he's experienced no setbacks in his recovery from a torn ACL and MCL. Gronk added that he also expects to play in all 16 games this season. It's notable because a report last week questioned Gronkowski's availability for the opener. Coach Bill Belichick may have a different plan for his star tight end, but at least things appear to be on the up. We'd consider drafting Gronkowski as early as the second round of fantasy drafts. He's a touchdown machine when on the field and a weekly difference maker.
Depth Chart Quick Slants
Coach Marc Trestman isn't worried about new WR Santonio Holmes' attitude. He's the heavy favorite to open the season as the Bears' No. 3 receiver with Marquess Wilson sidelined. … Blake Bortles received three first-team reps in 11-on-11 drills for the first time since being drafted. … Rashad Jennings is fully expected to get the "bulk" of the Giants' Week 1 carries. … Coach Lovie Smith wants more out of Tim Wright. … Richard Rodgers has "quietly taken control" of the Packers' starting "move" tight end job. Andrew Quarless is the in-line blocker. … Josh Boyce is buried on the Patriots' depth chart. … Coach Tom Coughlin has been unimpressed by Jerrel Jernigan this summer. He may be in danger of losing his roster spot.
Injury Quick Slants
Raiders Swiss-army knife FB Marcel Reece is out indefinitely with a foot injury. … Daniel Thomas (hamstring) returned to practice. He's missed a couple weeks. … Derek Carr (concussion) has been cleared to resume practicing. … Brandon Bostick will miss a "couple weeks" with a lower-leg injury. He's off the re-draft map, for now. … Marquess Wilson (collarbone) is expected to be out until "at least" midseason. … Charles Clay (knee) returned to practice. … Jamaal Charles (bruised foot) is day-to-day. … Ray Rice (shoulder) returned to practice. … Vincent Brown (calf) hasn't practiced in nearly a month. … Shonn Greene (knee) practiced Monday. … Marcus Lattimore (knee) is expected to be activated at some point this season. … LeSean McCoy has a "small version of turf toe." It's nothing to worry about. … The Bills are only saying that Sammy Watkins has a "rib injury" after initially calling it a "contusion" over the weekend. He rode the bike at practice Monday.