Top takeaways from Thursday’s preseason NFL action

By Vincent Frank
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The third week of the NFL preseason is typically reserved for teams playing their starters into the second half. That was a tad different with multiple squads resting their starters Thursday evening. A unique situation in Canada between the Raiders and Packers added to this even more.

Even then, there was a lot to look at during the six-game preseason slate. Tom Brady looked good in his final tune up of the summer. Former NFL MVP Cam Newton went down to another injury in his return to action.

On the other side of the ball, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie pass rusher Josh Allen absolutely dominated the Miami Dolphins.

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

Tom Brady is as sharp as ever

This six-time Super Bowl champion might not have had some of his top running partners on the field in Thursday’s regular-season tune up against the Carolina Panthers. That did not stop Tom Terrific from impressing big time. He completed 8-of-12 passes for 75 yards in a flawless over performance. This included completing a perfect 5-of-5 passes to Phillip Dorsett, who was making his preseason debut.

Brady’s final possession saw him drive down the field for 85 yards on 16 plays, taking up over eight minutes of action. That’s what we’ve come to expect from the greatest of all-time. Controlling the time of possession. Marching up and down the field. Coming away with a touchdown. Brady couldn’t have asked for a better way to wrap up his summer.

Zac Taylor has Bengals offense looking good

There were legitimate questions about whether Taylor could have success as a first-year head coach. The young offensive mind had never even called a game before the Bengals hired him. His reputation was more about working under Rams head coach Sean McVay and a sense that he has a great offensive mind.

What we saw Thursday evening against the Giants might clear this up a bit. Taylor has obviously gotten into the head of veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, who continued his excellent preseason performance. Dalton completed 7-of-10 passes for 104 yards with a touchdown against the Giants. His final drive of the game went 70 yards on six plays and culminated in a 26-yard scoring strike to tight end C. J. Uzomah. Things certainly do seem to be looking up for this offense under Taylor.

The other Josh Allen can play football, too

Most draft experts thought that the Jaguars got an absolute steal in former Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen No. 7 overall in April’s annual event. Here’s a kid that racked up 17 sacks en route to earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors last season. Allen did not disappoint in extended action against the Dolphins Thursday night.

That’s one heck of a play to take a ball carrier down in the backfield. Is this weren’t enough, Allen added more pressure in the offensive backfield throughout the game.

His speed off the line is legit. We’re already seeing plus-level pass-rush moves from the rookie. He could show out in a big way starting Week 1.

NFL embarrassed in Canada

Whether you want to blame those responsible for the field conditions at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg or the NFL, what we saw ahead of the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers game Thursday night was a travesty. Consideration was given to cancelling the game altogether after multiple issues popped up ahead of the game before officials decided to play with an 80-yard field. The optics were strange.

In the end, Green Bay decided to rest 33 of its core players. That included a quarterback in Aaron Rodgers who was set to make his preseason debut. The Raiders ultimately followed suit. A game that was originally scheduled in Oakland before being relocated to Canada represented yet another embarrassment for the NFL. Remember, we’ve seen similar field condition issues in both London and Mexico in the past.

Cam Newton injured in preseason debut

This former NFL MVP made his preseason debut Thursday night against the Patriots after undergoing multiple shoulder surgeries. While Newton himself looked pretty good in limited action, the very same pass-protection issues that have plagued him over the past few years reared its ugly head.

Newton was sacked two times on eight drop backs and pressured 50 percent of the time. It was pretty ugly to watch at times. It also led to Newton leaving the game with a lower-body injury. One really has to wonder whether the Panthers’ brass will ever learn its lesson. Sadly, it could end up costing the team heading into September.

Tim Boyle might have earned Packers backup job

We already know that Aaron Rodgers did not take to the field in Winnipeg Thursday night. Instead, starting duties were left up to this former undrafted free agent. It’s interesting in that a better-known quarterback in DeShone Kizer followed Boyle off the bench.

It also leads us to believe that Boyle might have earned the primary backup job for Green Bay. He completed 16-of-25 passes for 191 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions against Oakland. It’s just the continuation of what has been a flawless preseason performance from the youngster. And it has us wondering what might be in the cards for Kizer moving forward.

Derrius Guice makes triumphant return to the field

Pretty much everyone has to be rooting for this second-year running back after he suffered a torn ACL during the summer last year. Guice’s injury came months after he shockingly dropped to the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft because of overblown concerns about immaturity.

The Redskins’ back made his preseason debut Thursday night in a starting role. In no way can it be considered a disappointment. Guice went for 44 yards on 11 attempts, while throwing down one of the best stiff-arms of the entire summer. This LSU product is going to be absolutely legit as a sophomore. His performance against the Falcons Thursday night only added to that assumption.

Trace McSorley did what?

Despite having put up a tremendous career at Penn State, no one really thought highly of the 6-foot McSorley heading into the 2019 NFL Draft. That’s why the smallish quarterback lasted all the way to the Baltimore Ravens at pick No. 197. All he’s done this summer is look absolutely tremendous behind fellow youngster Lamar Jackson. That did not change with the rookie getting the start Thursday evening against Philadelphia.

McSorley completed 16-of-24 passes for 203 yards with two touchdowns in the first half alone. That included a brilliant 28-yard scoring strike to veteran Michael Floyd. Yeah, the Ravens might actually have something here.

Could something be brewing in New Jersey?

It’s been a summer long question. Is Eli Manning guaranteed to be the Giants’ Week 1 starter? Given how well rookie first-round pick Daniel Jones has played, this topic has been on the front burner in the Big Apple. That’s not going to change after what we saw from Jones against the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday evening.

Jones completed 9-of-11 passes for 141 yards without turning the ball over like we saw last week. It’s this natural progression that led to Giants head coach Pat Shurmur refusing to completely close the door on Jones as the Week 1 starter following Thursday’s game. Given that Manning was once again on the field Thursday, one has to wonder if we have a legit quarterback competition on our hands.

JJ Arcega-Whiteside ball out for the Eagles

Philadelphia selected this 6-foot-3 receiver in the second round of April’s draft for one primary reason. He could provide that big-bodied target on the outside and in the red zone. Getting a ton of play in the Eagles’ third preseason game Thursday night against Baltimore, the Stanford product did just that.

All said, Arcega-Whiteside caught 8-of-9 targets for 104 yards and a touchdown in a brilliant all-around performance. Not only has the talented receiver earned a spot in the Eagles’ receiver rotation this season, he could end up starting at some point soon. The kid is simply that good.