Every NFL coach understands injuries are part of the game, but several cannot be happy to see their key players go down in the third preseason contest on Saturday.
New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez sustained a shoulder injury in the third quarter against the New York Giants during a rough night for NFL players. Sanchez left the field with his right shoulder wrapped in ice to have his injury examined by doctors. Considering how poorly Geno Smith played, Sanchez’s injury - coupled with coach Rex Ryan's questionable decision to play him in the third quarter - further complicates New York’s quarterback situation.
In addition to Sanchez, Indianapolis Colts tackle Anthony Castonzo (knee), Atlanta cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh), Buffalo quarterback Kevin Kolb (head injury), Buffalo cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist), Tennessee running back Shonn Greene (ankle), Tennessee receiver Nate Washington (ankle), Jacksonville offensive lineman Will Rackley (leg), Arizona guard Jonathan Cooper (broken leg) and Pittsburgh linebacker Jarvis Jones (chest) are among the notable players who left Saturday’s Week 3 preseason games due to injuries. Denver receiver Demaryius Thomas began limping after a tackle by Rams safety T.J. McDonald, but eventually reentered the contest.
Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller immediately reached for his knee after a 2-yard touchdown run against Washington, but the injury was only a cut sustained after taking a hit from another player’s spike. Spiller eventually returned in the second quarter.
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy’s approach with Aaron Rodgers is one worth emulating for teams concerned about avoiding injuries in the future.
Rodgers appeared in only one possession against Seattle before McCarthy pulled his franchise quarterback. While the third preseason game is important for developing chemistry among starters, that task is hard to accomplish with key players sustaining significant injuries.
If there is a silver lining, most starters will not play in the fourth preseason game on Thursday. Unfortunately, the damage to some teams is already done.
No matter how much the New York Giants would like Andre Brown to have touches this season, but he just does not have David Wilson’s explosiveness.
On New York’s first possession, Wilson took the handoff from Eli Manning and turned on a gear that Brown does not have. Wilson ran through a huge hole on the left side and proceeded 84-yards to the end zone without being touched during a 24-21 loss against the Jets.
Giants guard/tackle David Diehl had surgery to replace his unstable thumb earlier this week, while center David Baas is recovering from an MCL sprain. Wilson finished strong last season, but showed why he is a more explosive option than Brown.
When the Dallas Cowboys signed quarterback Tony Romo to a six-year, $108 million contract extension with $55 million in guarantees ($25 million signing bonus), it appeared the franchise overpaid for a player who only guided them to one playoff win in his tenure.
If Romo is playing with a chip on his shoulder, it has trickled down to the entire team.
Romo completed 13-of-18 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns in the first half against Cincinnati. Receiver Dez Bryant had receptions for 54 yards and one touchdown in the first half, while Miles Austin had four receptions for 59 yards and one touchdown before halftime. Dallas eventually won, 24-18.
Meanwhile, Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s defense continues to play well. Cowboys safety Barry Church forced a fumble, while cornerback B.W. Webb intercepted a pass intended for Bengals receiver Mohamed Sanu. Dallas' defense created four turnovers on Saturday night (nine this preseason).
Overall, it was a good night for the Cowboys. It was also a great night for Romo.
Indianapolis 27, Cleveland 6: Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden was on fire in two previous playoff games, but not impressive this time. Weeden completed only 12-of-25 passes for 105 yards (59.6 passer rating) during the loss. Browns tight end Jordan Cameron’s exciting preseason fizzled with two receptions for seven yards.
Philadelphia 31, Jacksonville 24: Eagles quarterback Michael Vick put together another solid performance when he compiled 184 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. Vick threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper, which is the receiver’s first score this preseason.
Tampa Bay 17, Miami 16: Despite the win, Tampa Bay appears to be losing when it comes to quarterback Josh Freeman, who completed only 6-of-16 passes for 59 yards. There were some drops in the game, but Freeman has not shown any progress this preseason.
Kansas City 26, Pittsburgh 20 (OT): Steelers running back Felix Jones received eight carries after joining his new team this week. Jones led the Steelers with 29 yards rushing.
Tennessee 27, Atlanta 16: Titans quarterback Jake Locker played well, completing 11-of-13 passes for 133 yards and one touchdown, while Chris Johnson had 11 carries for 65 yards. Tennessee is not an offensive juggernaut, but Johnson has played well this preseason.
Denver 27, St. Louis 26: Rams rookie linebacker Alex Ogletree looked like a veteran against one of the AFC’s best teams. Ogletree returned a fumble 13 yards for a touchdown, plus intercepted Peyton Manning during the loss.
Washington 30, Buffalo 7: Redskins running back Roy Helu pulled ahead in the race to backup Alfred Morris with 13 carries for 70 yards, plus had one reception for 21 yards. Backup running back Evan Royster was inactive due to a sprained ankle.
San Diego 24, Arizona 7 -- Chargers running back Ryan Mathews showed once again why he is so unreliable when his team faced the Cardinals. Mathews rushed 14 times for 57 times and one touchdown, but fumbled on Arizona's 1-yard line with 36 seconds remaining before halftime.
• Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles completed 10-of-11 passes for 112 yards. Considering Vick's history of injuries, it appears Philadelphia has a solid backup option if - and when - Vick goes down this season.
• St. Louis kicker Greg Zuerlein made a 58-yard field goal, and the hit the net. Zuerlein's nickname is "Legatron" and it is easy to understand why.
• When the New York Jets decided to get rid of Tim Tebow, it was supposed to end their quarterback issues. Upon further review, the real problem appears to lie with general manager John Idzik's inability to evaluate talent.
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