Later today, the most important week of the preseason begins as teams send out their starters for extended action as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Let’s check in on the latest news around the league as team’s gear up for Week Three of preseason action.
Late Tuesday evening, reports began to circulate that the Browns and HC Hue Jackson would likely name a starting quarterback soon and we didn’t have to wait long. Early Wednesday morning, second-round rookie pick DeShone Kizer was named as the starter for the team’s Week Three preseason matchup against the Buccaneers. As I’ve already mentioned, each NFL team considers this a dress rehearsal and they plan it out as they would a regular season game. This is obviously huge news for Kizer and the other Browns quarterbacks.
After selecting DL Myles Garrett with the first overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, the Browns made the quarterback spot a priority in the second round, grabbing Kizer from Notre Dame. Some analysts suggested Kizer was making a mistake by leaving college a year early, but he appears to be in line to be the first rookie QB to get the start for his team in the regular season.
Kizer has been impressive both as a passer and a runner through a pair of preseason games. In his debut, he totaled 184 yards and a touchdown, playing the entire second half and led the Browns to a comeback win, throwing the winning touchdown with under two minutes left in the game. He followed that up with a modest 74-yard passing game, though he did add 35 rushing yards and a score on the ground as he pushed the pile.
So, while not yet being named the official Week One starter, Kizer is certainly in the driver’s seat. In fact, Jackson said of Kizer, “This is the next step he needs to take and he deserves this opportunity. He is certainly positioning himself well to earn the starting job heading into the regular season.”
This leaves former Texan Brock Osweiler and last year’s rookie surprise Cody Kessler as the presumed backups, though the team may have other plans for the $16 million man, Osweiler. A pair of ESPN reports following the Kizer announcement told us that Osweiler would not play at all in the team’s Week Three game, which was followed up by a report that the Browns has ramped up their efforts to trade the expensive backup. It seems unlikely that they will find a trade partner, so there is a possibility that Osweiler is outright cut.
Beckham Not Out of the Woods
We all held our breath Monday night when Giants star WR Odell Beckham took a nasty shot to his lower leg in the first half against the Browns. The hit sent Beckham out of the game and put a scare into fantasy players everywhere. The injury was quickly labeled a sprained ankle, while both X-rays and a concussion protocol returned good news for Beckham. Escaping with “only” a sprained ankle was probably the best possible news for Beckham’s fantasy owners and Giants fans, but on Wednesday, an ESPN report suggested Beckham could miss “a week or two” of the regular season. We know Beckham will sit out of the team’s final two preseason games, but we’ll all have to continue to monitor Beckham’s status heading into a Week One showdown with the division-rival Cowboys. Based on what we know as of now, this shouldn’t affect Beckham’s value in upcoming drafts, maintaining his position as a solid first-rounder.
Henne Draws the Starts
We’ve already established how important the upcoming weekend of preseason games can be and it is also crucial to remember how quickly things can change in the NFL. After a pitiful performance from QB Blake Bortles in last week’s game, a quarterback controversy was born. If the Jaguars had better options, this would’ve taken place weeks, or maybe even months ago. For now, the Jaguars have countered Bortles poor performance by naming veteran Chad Henne the starter for Week Three of the preseason. Much like the Browns situation, no official decision has been announced regarding the regular season, but this announcement speaks for itself. Bortles is still expected to get some work with the first-teamers, but it may be too little, too late.
A Change in Chicago?
The second overall draft pick, QB Mitchell Trubisky, is not as far along at this point as his rookie counterpart, Kizer, but he has been earning some first team reps. Veteran Mike Glennon, signed by the Bears in free agency shortly before they traded up to draft Trubisky, remains likely to start Week One, though it’s only a matter of time before the former University of North Carolina star ascends the depth chart.
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The Ravens have been hard hit by injuries already this preseason and that is continuing. Potential starters RB Danny Woodhead and WR Breshad Perriman have both been ruled out for Week Three of the preseason with hamstring injuries. Neither player is a lock to play in Week One. ... Colts WR Donte Moncrief continues to deal with a shoulder issue and is not a full participant in practice. Moncrief missed last week’s game and likely won’t see the field again this week. He also missed time with a similar issue last season. Things just aren’t going well for the Colts already this year. ... Falcons RB Devonta Freeman (concussion) won’t play this week, though according to HC Dan Quinn, Freeman is in the final stages of the league’s concussion protocol. ... After a report earlier in the week suggested the Seahawks were concerned about a groin injury for RB C.J. Prosise, the team’s RB coach announced he expects the second-year back to play this week. Prosise’s health remains a serious concern for fantasy players. ... Redskins TE Jordan Reed practiced for the first time this summer after being activated from the PUP list over the weekend…Bills WR Jordan Matthews (sternum) returned to a limited practice and is in line to play in Week One. ... Broncos RB Devontae Booker (wrist) is targeting a return in Week Three of the regular season. The Denver RB depth chart remains in flux with veteran C.J. Anderson failing to impress, while unheralded rookie DeAngelo Henderson has made a name for himself…Moncrief isn’t the Colts only WR dealing with an injury as Chester Rogers, once considered the favorite to claim the third wide receiver spot, has missed over a week of practice with a bum hamstring. The Colts are running out of bodies before the season begins.