Thursday night's preseason bonanza spilled into the weekend. Our eyes were all over the place, but I'll do my best to wrap it up here in a clear and concise manner.
On Friday night, we got our first glimpse at the future of the quarterback position in both Jacksonville and Minnesota. For the Jaguars, No. 3 overall pick Blake Bortles shined, while Teddy Bridgewater struggled in his Vikings debut.
Bortles relieved Chad Henne midway through the second quarter and immediately made his presence felt, drilling a 24-yard pass to undrafted rookie WR Allen Hurns. Bortles was consistently threading passes to his receivers in the intermediate-to-deep areas of the field, and finished the night 7-of-11 for 117 yards. He and Hurns showed a good rapport, as they worked against Tampa Bay's backups. Bortles has yet to take a first-team snap in practice since training camp opened. Even after his strong debut, coach Gus Bradley intends to keep Bortles with the backups. This is Chad Henne's team for 2014. If the Jaguars have it their way, Bortles will sit and learn for his entire rookie season. But after one exhibition game, the future looks bright in Jacksonville.
On the other end of the spectrum, Bridgewater took a step back against the Raiders. Matt Cassel got the start, as expected, but Bridgewater came in shortly after and got some run with the first-team offense. He completed 6-of-13 throws for 49 yards and generally struggled to move the offense. Bridgewater has plenty of time to earn the starting job come Week 1, but Friday night was a setback. There's no doubt in our minds Bridgewater is going to start multiple games for the Vikings in year one.
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News Nugget #1
Another highly-touted rookie quarterback made his debut this weekend; Johnny Manziel came on in relief of Brian Hoyer Saturday night in Detroit. He held his own by completing 7-of-11 passes for 63 yards while rushing for another 27 yards on six scampers. Manziel played four series with the twos and threes.
Manziel will start the Browns' second preseason game and is essentially in a dead heat with Hoyer. A team source informed ESPN's Bob Holtzman that Manziel is actually "now ahead" of Hoyer following Saturday night's tilt. Manziel is reportedly showing far superior playmaking ability in practice of late, and the players in the locker room are "starting to think" Johnny Football has the edge. If Manziel can tie another strong week onto this past one, then chances will increase that he'll get the nod in Week 1 against the Steelers. He's certainly worth targeting as a high-ceiling QB2 with QB1 upside in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.
News Nugget #2
The Saints' running back depth chart remains a constant talking point. In Friday night's preseason opener against the Rams, Mark Ingram got the start before Khiry Robinson entered on the second series. The two split work with the starters for much of the first half. Pierre Thomas was inactive for the game.
Against St. Louis, Ingram picked up right where he left off last season when he averaged 4.9 YPC in the regular season and 5.2 in the playoffs. Ingram tallied 83 yards and a touchdown on eight carries Friday. He was finishing his runs, punishing defenders, and hitting the hole with authority. On his 22-yard touchdown run, Ingram lowered the boom on S Cody Davis. Robinson didn't disappoint, either, but we're really starting to like Ingram as a value pick at his current 13th-round ADP. The Saints are going to continue to employ a three-headed monster of sorts in the backfield, so there will obviously be some week-to-week inconsistency. Robinson's ninth-round ADP is a little rich for our blood. Thomas is the man to target in PPR formats. He should flirt with 65-70 grabs with Darren Sproles no longer in the picture. But Thomas is looking like he'll mostly be limited to third-down and passing-work duties. Ingram's in a contract year. He's focused on earning that next paycheck.
Depth Chart Quick Slants
Browns UDFA RB Isaiah Crowell didn't play a single snap Saturday night. Arguably the most talented runner to enter the 2014 draft, Crowell has some serious depth chart climbing to do. Maybe the Browns are trying to sneak him onto the practice squad. … The Chiefs have no plans to decrease Jamaal Charles' workload and put more on the plate of Knile Davis. … Andre Brown may be tumbling down the running back depth chart in Houston. Rookie Alfred Blue should give him a run for his money. … Ryan Griffin is the favorite for the Saints' No. 2 quarterback job. … Miles Austin started opposite Josh Gordon on Saturday night, while Andrew Hawkins manned the slot. … Rookie Richard Rodgers started at tight end for the Packers on Saturday night. … Dexter McCluster operated as the No. 2 running back for Tennessee Saturday. Coach Ken Whisenhunt is trying him in the Danny Woodhead role. We're not expecting much from McCluster in fantasy. … Brian Quick and Kenny Britt started at receiver for the Rams on Friday.
Injury Quick Slants
Mike Wallace (hamstring) returned to practice Sunday. … Pierre Garcon (hamstring) has resumed practicing. … Arian Foster (undisclosed) has a shot to play this week. … Cam Newton says he can still feel a "thump" in his surgically-repaired ankle from time to time. … Odell Beckham is expected to return to practice Monday. … Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) returned to practice Sunday. … Michael Crabtree (hamstring) is expected back shortly. … Chris Ivory is dealing with a rib cartilage injury. … Riley Cooper (foot) is back at practice. … Theo Riddick was forced from the preseason opener with an abdominal issue. … Toby Gerhart (hip) hopes to return this week. … Cecil Shorts (hamstring) ran in a straight line at 100 percent last week.
Weekend Preseason Notes
LeGarrette Blount handled two red-zone carries in the opener. It's something to watch closely, as Le'Veon Bell's stock would take a hit if he were to lose goal-line work. … Matt Schaub had a rough debut for the Raiders, but the coaches don't plan to put more on rookie Derek Carr's plate. … Eagles rookie WR and summer sensation Jordan Matthews had a rough opener. He dropped three of his seven targets. We're still extremely high on Matthews, and nerves may have been to blame. … Logan Thomas had a sensational debut for the Cardinals, completing 11-of-12 passes for 113 yards and a score. He needs to be owned in all Dynasty leagues. … Coach Gus Bradley questioned rookie Marqise Lee's effort over the weekend when he got the start at receiver. … Ifeanyi Momah started Friday night's opener. Coach Chip Kelly loves Momah's size at 6-foot-7. … Brandin Cooks lined up all over the field and saw a team-high eight targets versus St. Louis. Kenny Stills (calf) did not play. … Benny Cunningham ran as the Rams' No. 2 back Friday, ahead of Tre Mason. … Charles Sims was the third running back into the game for the Bucs on Friday, playing behind Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey. … Kelvin Benjamin caught a 29-yard touchdown Friday and has the looks of a potential red-zone dominator.