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NFL Preseason Week 2 Roundup

   by Al McMordie - 08/25/2010

Week 3 of the preseason is on deck and that’s the time many coaches use their starters the most, playing three quarters as if it’s a real game. However, not all coaches do this. It’s essential to keep tabs on all the shifts and changes, as preseason football is loaded with injuries, QB rotations, depth charts and coaching decisions that will influence play.

Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford had his second straight shaky outing this past weekend. The No. 1 overall draft pick, expected to start for this season, went 6 of 14 for 24 yards coming off the bench behind A.J. Feeley. Bradford wasn't sacked after being dropped behind the line four times in the opener. Will Bradford start this weekend? Feeley sustained a thumb injury and is questionable.

Some good news is that St. Louis running back Steven Jackson made his debut, with four carries for 20 yards in his first game since undergoing back surgery in April. Perhaps Bradford would benefit from Feeley not playing this week, as Sam could then work with Jackson. The Rams play Thursday at the (2-0 SU/ATS) Patriots, who have scored 27 and 28 points.

The Colts (0-2 SU/ATS) are playing like they did under Tony Dungy in preseason, as second-year coach Jim Caldwell is now 1-5 SU, 2-4 ATS in August. The defense has been shredded in the two games, giving up 37 and 34 points. However, take note that the Colts starters played extremely well.

The starting offense led 10-0 in the opener and scored 14 first quarter points in Week 2. It’s the backups that can’t stop anybody. The offensive line has been hit hard by injuries, in the wake of center Jeff Saturday's arthroscopic surgery, the continued absence of rookie interior lineman Jacques McClendon and veteran tackle Charlie Johnson.

So that means QB Peyton Manning is still great, but backups Curtis Painter, Tom Brandstater and rookie Tim Hiller are not ready for prime time. The Colts suffered four turnovers in their opening loss to San Francisco and again were careless with the football Saturday, losing three fumbles, including a botched punt return by rookie Ray Fisher. The Colts also were penalized eight times.

On the plus side, safety Bob Sanders was back on the field for the first time since rupturing his left biceps tendon Nov. 1, 2009, and the starting unit forced three punts, but also yielded the big plays to RB C.J. Spiller and QB Trent Edwards.

New Coach Pete Carroll has some problems in Seattle. Seattle's starting defense, which was ransacked most of last season, allowed 264 yards and 17 points to the Packers' first- and second-team offense in the first half. QB Matt Hasselbeck was 11 for 15 for 127 yards with a score in a redeeming first half, but the Seahawks may be without rookie sixth-overall pick Russell Okung for a while because of an injured right ankle.

The left tackle who, got a guaranteed $29 million this month from the Seahawks to replace retired All-Pro Walter Jones, left for good after one drive with what coach Carroll said could be a high ankle sprain. That injury sometimes involves two months or more of recovery time.

"It's pretty significant," Carroll said. "Obviously we made it as big a priority as we could make it to get him. That's a big loss if he can't come back."

Washington went from blowing out Buffalo to a humbling loss at home to the Ravens, 23-3. QB Donovan McNabb emerged from the locker room after halftime with a large wrap around his lower left leg and ankle. McNabb said he was "just a little sore" and that he expected to play next week against the New York Jets this weekend.

Left tackle Trent Williams, the No. 4 overall draft pick, left with a bruised elbow but said he was fine. The Redskins have three new starters on the offensive line. McNabb had an erratic night for the Redskins, completing 11 of 26 passes for 206 yards and a bad-decision interception thrown deep into double coverage. He frequently threw behind receivers and was often pressured and hit by a blitzing Ravens defense.

New RB Larry Johnson was a disaster, gaining only 4 yards on eight carries. He also missed a blitz pickup that resulted in an intentional grounding call on McNabb, bobbled a pass at least a half-dozen times before dropping it, and lost the ball after tripping over his own man on a running play. The Redskins have some work to do.

The team McNabb left, the Eagles, had their own problems, getting shut down at Cincinnati.
They continued their reliance on passing plays, calling for throws on 63 percent of the first team's snaps in three quarters of play. The Eagles have mostly tried to throw the ball for touchdowns near the goal line rather than taking a power approach favored by many other teams. In nine red-zone snaps for the Eagles' first team this preseason, six have been pass plays. By the way, Philly Coach Andy Reid is 18-28 SU, 19-27 ATS in preseason. And how bad it the Carolina offense going to be when the games mean something? The Panthers have scored 12 and 3 points! Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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