Top takeaways from Saturday’s NFL preseason action

By Jesse Reed
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

With seven games on the NFL preseason schedule Saturday, there was plenty to analyze.

Top pick Kyler Murray rebounded nicely as the Arizona Cardinals played the Minnesota Vikings. His counterpart, Kirk Cousins, did not, but the Minnesota offense did see some fireworks, nevertheless.

Later in the day, Jimmy Garappolo showed he’s still pretty good, while the Houston Texans watched in horror as a top star went down with what appeared to be a bad injury.

Oh, and the most shocking NFL news story since Barry Sanders retired broke out right in the middle of it all the games later in the evening.

These are the top takeaways from Saturday’s NFL preseason action.

Dalvin Cook looking dangerous

Minnesota has to be a bit concerned about how poorly Kirk Cousins has played the past couple of weeks. On Saturday, he was atrocious, netting 22 yards while completing just 3-of-13 attempts. However, the starting offense still showed out, thanks to running back Dalvin Cook.

Though Cook only toted the rock twice, he made his reps count, going for 88 yards. Most of that came on his second attempt, as Cook romped 85 yards for a touchdown. Finally healthy, he looks spry. On that touchdown, Cook utilized a sweet cut early, then hit the afterburners to complete the stunning play.

49ers offense gets into a groove

Less than a week after a disastrous showing in Denver, Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. showed up with a much better effort in Kansas City.

Garoppolo completed 14-of-20 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown, connecting with eight different receivers and showing some impressive touch on difficult throws.

San Francisco also generated a strong run game spearheaded by Matt Breida, who looked incredible on two healthy ankles. Between Breida and Tevin Coleman, the starting offense generated 63 yards on 15 carries in the first half.

Houston hit with brutal injury

On the first drive of Saturday night’s game against Dallas, in his first preseason action all summer, starting running back Lamar Miller went down with an injury. It looked ugly right off the bat as he clutched at his left knee immediately after going down. The cart quickly came out to take him into the locker room.

It’s not yet known how significant an injury Miller suffered. But it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s not coming back for a long time. Houston did make a trade last month for Duke Johnson, who will certainly help lessen the blow here. But he’s never had the chance to be a featured back and may not have it in him.

Make no mistake, Miller’s injury is one the Texans are going to feel. Just a brutal turn of events for a team that has high aspirations in 2019.

Rams have found their fifth receiver

The Los Angeles Rams may have the best and deepest overall receiving corps in the NFL. With Cooper Kupp returning healthy this year, along with Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, and Josh Reynolds, that’s a heck of a lineup. However, former sixth-round pick Mike Thomas has been drawing rave reviews this summer and has shown his ability during the preseason.

Head coach Sean McVay didn’t have any of his starters playing Saturday against Denver. With the chance to make an early impression, Thomas did just that catching three passes on three targets for a total of 76 yards. With this performance, Thomas solidified himself as the fifth receiver — all of them dynamic — in Los Angeles.

The Drew/MT combo still lethal

Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and the rest of New Orleans’ starting offense didn’t play much on Saturday against the New York Jets. But Brees and Thomas only needed one drive to make their point.

The duo connected twice on the opening drive of the game, going for 39 yards and capping it off with a 19-yard touchdown strike.

Thomas is one of the most dangerous receivers in the game today. Brees looks for him often, and they convert more than any other combo in the league. This was just a taste of what’s to come this season.

Russell Wilson and Co. in midseason form

Seattle rolled out most of its starting offense against the Los Angeles Chargers late Saturday night. Russell Wilson played extremely well, despite not having D.K. Metcalf or David Moore, who is going to be out a while with a shoulder injury.

Wilson completed 6-of-9 passes, finding four different receivers for 73 yards. The highlight of his passing night was a gorgeous 30-yard strike to Tyler Lockett, whose workload figures to increase this season.

As Wilson and his receivers meshed, so also did the run game. The Seahawks racked up 104 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries during their first three drives. That kind of production on the ground is going to make this offense very dangerous in 2019.

Colts’ receiving corps is deep

Indy sat most of its starters Saturday against Chicago, allowing younger players on the bubble to shine. One such player was second-year receiver Deon Cain out of Clemson, who lost his rookie campaign to a torn ACL.

Cain showed off his explosive athleticism with a nice touchdown reception that was solely due to his work after the catch.

All told, Cain caught three passes for 74 yards. He’s likely working himself into a solid role within Indy’s offense this coming season. Given the talent the Colts have in the wide receiver room featuring the likes of TY Hilton, Chester Rogers, Devin Funchess, and Parris Campbell, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Kyler Murray is going to be just fine

Top overall draft pick Kyler Murray had a brutal second preseason game a week ago, prompting his critics to feel justified. But on Saturday he showed resilience in a bounce-back performance that showed off his top-flight arm.

Murray threw a couple of absolute ropes with pinpoint accuracy. More importantly he didn’t turn the ball over or take any sacks against a very good Minnesota defense. The rookie quarterback completed 14-of-21 attempts for 137 yards playing most of the first half.

He, and Arizona’s offense, look ready for the regular season opener against the Detroit Lions.

Colts fans should be ashamed of themselves

Andrew Luck stunningly announced his retirement on live television Saturday night following Indianapolis’ game against Chicago. He had to, because Adam Schefter broke the news during the game while Luck was still on the sideline wearing street clothes watching his teammates play.

As news of this spread on social media, naturally Colts fans attending the game caught wind of it. What happened next is truly shameful, as fans mercilessly booed Luck off the field.

Luck has been one of the NFL’s classiest individuals since being selected No. 1 overall in 2012. He’s legendary for his outstanding sportsmanship, and whenever he could play, he gave his all for the Colts and their fans. Unfortunately, injuries derailed his once promising career, and now he’s leaving the game behind.

It’s just a shame he couldn’t have done it on better terms, and that his once loyal fans turned on him so viciously at his most vulnerable moment.