Final verdicts before roster cuts, regular season

The 2023 NFL preseason is (thankfully) complete. Here’s the one benefit of the 17-game regular season: the empty weekend before Week 1, when players, fans, Fantasy owners, and those of us who cover the league can take a last breath of the summer before the marathon actually starts. .

But you’re not here to read about the demise of the beloved Week 4 (pre). You’re here to find out who shined and who shattered at the end of August this year. So I’ll do my best to make sense of a largely meaningless exhibition football, while trying to extract meaningful pips wherever possible:


New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) throws against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) throws against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

Aaron Rodgers: Returning to preseason after a five-year layoff, the four-time MVP donned Gotham Green and Spotlight White from the new york jets for the first time in a gaming environment. On the trivial side, Rodgers enjoyed the love of NYJ fans who were able to ruin what was actually a Giants home game, and also connected with WR Garrett Wilson on a 14-yard touchdown run. But the 39-year-old followed his main directive as he played two series: Get away unscathed. “I went in, I didn’t get hurt, I scored,” Rodgers said. “It was a good night”. The Big Apple is looking forward to the encore.

First-round rookie QB: Neither had what would be called a lively preseason, but the trio continued to show steady improvements. choice number 1 bryce young threw his first NFL touchdown pass Friday for the carolina panthers and showed what mobility he might need after taking more than his fair share of hits in recent weeks … though his lack of baseball experience was evident given his attempt to “slide.” CJ Stroud, second overall for the Houston Texanshe also scored his first touchdown in a brief appearance in New Orleans on Sunday night, which was apparently enough to officially establish himself as a club owner. Indianapolis Colts Anthony Richardson He went on to display the dual-threat athleticism that landed him in the fourth draft … and the accuracy issues that dogged him in Florida. He shined again on Thursday, but you really would feel better. if he’d had RB Jonathan Taylor around to take pressure off the rookie.

Fifth-round rookie QB: Tenured for five years at UCLA, Dorian Thompson-Robinson he is now one play away from starting for Cleveland after looking so good that the Browns traded former QB2 Josh Dobbs to the Arizona Cardinals.

Kenny Pickett: Did anyone have a better preseason? He Pittsburgh SteelersThe sophomore signal caller finished with a perfect 158.3 QB rating, connecting on 13 of 15 shots for 199 yards and a pair of scores. His five August drives produced five touchdowns and stoke great excitement for a team that finished the 2022 season with a four-game warm-up and went 3-0 this month.

jordanian love: Only slightly less impressive than Pickett, Love collectively threw for 193 yards and three touchdowns and generally looked good over his three appearances. After an 8-9 season with Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers He may not miss a beat with Love … and could add a few after a very disappointing 2022 campaign.

D.J. Moore: He chicago bearsThe new No. 1 wide receiver, a position they have rarely held in their century-plus of existence, hauled in a 40-yard pass from the QB. justin fields on Saturday, giving Moore 102 yards on a pair of preseason receptions. This offense looks poised to move to a new level after his passing game ranked last in 2022.

Tom Brady: He’s back… something like TB12 patrolling the Las Vegas Raiders‘ set aside as a minority owner along with the former New England Patriots friends like QB Jimmy Garoppolo and Brian Hoyer, DE Chandler Jones and HC Josh McDaniels. One of the guys who now works for Brady, All-Pro RB joseph jacobseven decided to go back to work on the weekend courtesy of an enhanced contract for 2023.

ryan tannehill: He’s back… more or less. He Tennessee Titans‘ The starting quarterback fumbled three times on Friday night, his only preseason appearance. We should all need that “workload” to sufficiently prepare ourselves for the more difficult aspects of our employment.

cleveland browns defending: OK, so it wasn’t facing MVP. patrick mahomes Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium. But the Brownies still looked pretty formidable: They broke up 11 passes, stole three, returned two for touchdowns and recorded three sacks. Just wait until new coordinator Jim Schwartz unleashes DE miles garrettwho did not dress this month.

Teddy Bridgewater in no. 17: He Detroit LionsThe new backup QB looked much better in his new jersey number than he did in number 50 a week ago. The 10-year veteran led his team to 20 points in the second quarter on Friday in Charlotte and seemed perfectly capable of stepping in if Jared Goff low for any period of time.

Will Grier: He Dallas CowboysThe backup quarterback accounted for four touchdowns against the Raiders, passing for 305 yards and two scores and rushing for 53 more while finding the end zone on the ground twice, all with QB1. dak prescott calling plays for him.

Kirk Cousins: Awesome handlebars, boss.


Kirk Cousins: There’s no way your wife will let you keep it, “boss.”

Will Grier: Saturday’s effort will likely be Grier’s last in a Dallas uniform, and his role as QB3 will almost certainly be newly acquired Trey Lance while getting Grier a one-way ticket out of Texas. And he knew it. “To be honest, the hardest thing for me is leaving this place,” Grier said. “I became very close to the team. That’s the hardest part of what we do.”

Los Angeles Rams: They capped a winless pre-season with an unforgettable 41-0 loss to Denver Broncos‘Backups. And the score wasn’t even fully indicative of how embarrassing LA’s “performance” was. Rookie DB Tre Tomlinson was ejected for an egregious mask violation. Rookie Quarterback Stetson Bennett IV completed 4 of 9 passes for 14 yards with two picks. The Rams were outscored 494-159 … again by a bunch of guys who probably won’t make Denver’s final roster. To be fair, the Super Bowl 56 champions also didn’t use their key players, but one wonders if HC Sean McVay would just miss out on preseason if he could, as he said Saturday: “That was a humiliating night.” Oh yeah.

Baltimore Ravens: The sky is falling! After add 24 consecutive victories in preseasonthey will carry a two-game skid through 2024 after losing in Tampa on Saturday.

Minnesota Vikings: The sky has opened up craters in the Land of 10,000 Lakes! The Vikes lost their 10th consecutive exhibition contest on Saturday, a streak that stretches back to 2019.

ryan jensen: left knee injury Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ The Pro Bowl center suffered a year ago, costing him his entire 2022 regular season, now sent him back to injured reserve and could very likely end his career. A shame for a dear teammate. And too bad for an offensive line that seems to have very few answers outside of LT. Tristan Wirfs – and is also in unfamiliar territory, after turning from the right side.

Jakeem Grant: The Pro Bowl returner’s 2022 campaign was blighted by a preseason Achilles tendon tear. He, too, will not play for the Browns in 2023 after injuring his knee on Saturday.

lamar jackson: The former MVP didn’t participate in preseason this summer for Baltimore, which normally wouldn’t be a big deal. but given Coordinator Todd Monken is installing a whole new offense. For the Ravens, one who relies on extended passing concepts, is it a little unnerving that all of Jackson’s OJTs in the game take place in games that count? (Okay, admittedly, that Week 1 date with the Texans seems a bit preseason.)

Dee Eskridge: A second-round pick from the Seattle Seahawks in 2021, he has 17 career receptions, he will start the 2023 season with a six-game suspension for violating the personal conduct policy and may be fifth rank, at best, after undrafted WRs Jake Bobo He concluded his first NFL preseason by leading the team with seven receptions, 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The San Francisco Specialists: Lost amid the attention over Lance’s departure is the fact that 49ers kickers — Zane Gonzalez and newbie Jake Moody – both have leg injuries and may not be ready for Week 1. (And punter Mitch Wishnowsky showed Friday that he’s not up to the task of kicking extra points after Gonzalez strained his calf in pregame warmups). Maybe the Niners should have traded Lance for a kicker … though that’s not an area Dallas could have helped them with.

cade york: Do you feel like there are fewer kickers than quarterbacks? York, a fourth-rounder a year ago who didn’t exactly have a terrific rookie season, saw his final shot of the preseason — a 43-yard attempt that would have won Saturday’s game for Cleveland — partially blocked. He’s 4-for-8 this month, including 3-for-7 beyond 40 yards.

Another terrifying wound: This time he was immobilized. miami dolphins WR Daewood Davis, who was carried off the field after a terrifying collision, one that drew a flag of unnecessary roughness and left him on the grass for what seemed like an eternity, in Jacksonville on Saturday. And, for the second week in a row, an inconsequential preseason game was (correctly) called off in the fourth quarter after both teams opted not to continue with one of their brothers in obvious trouble. By our count, that’s Five players on boards with lost movement in the last two weeks., a trend that obviously no one wants to see continue. Thankfully the positive trend is that everyone seems to have recovered, the Dolphins tweeted after the game that Davis regained full movement in his extremities and was discharged from hospital.


Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on X, formerly Twitter @ByNateDavis.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL preseason winners and losers: Aaron Rodgers and rookie QB stand out

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