Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!




Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      






Brian Thorne | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer


Training Camp Report - NFC
News, Notes & Post-Game Report for Preseason Week 2
8/19/13


Week One | Week Two | Week Three | Week Four

NFC WEST: ARI | SF | STL | SEA
NFC SOUTH: ATL | CAR | NO | TB
NFC NORTH: CHI | DET | GB | MIN
NFC EAST: DAL | PHI | NYG | WAS

NFC WEST



Arizona Cardinals

A successful 2013 for the Cardinals will be built on strong defense, forcing turnovers, and special plays from special teams. As compared to last year, the offense is in a much better place under coach Bruce Arians and with quarterback Carson Palmer leading the team, but it appears they still have a ways to go before being a consistent scoring threat. Against Dallas they scored 12 points on four field goals from Jay Feely, three of which came off of 51 first-half plays and five extra possessions. The defense created six turnovers (five in the first half) and only gave up a late touchdown, but still the Arizona offense was unable to capitalize. Two of those turnovers came from late fumbles after huge gains following a catch and run; without those, the Cardinals likely give up 10 if not 14 more points, painting the game in a very different light. If theyíre unable to score touchdowns against San Diego next week, the outlook for this season takes a drastic downturn, especially considering linebacker Daryl Washingtonís four-game suspension related to performance enhancing drugs; he will be replaced by Jasper Brinkley, a free agent signee from Minnesota.

St. Louis Rams

A second suspension was handed out to the St. Louis Rams this week for linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar in relation to performance enhancing drugs. He will miss the first four games of the season and will likely be replaced by Will Witherspoon. Previously suspended running back Isaiah Pead will miss only the first contest for violating the leagueís substance abuse policy. On the field against Green Bay, the Rams were sufficient on defense and underwhelming on offense. Aside from a beautiful deep ball to wide receiver Chris Givens, a great catch and run by tight end Jared Cook, and a poorly placed ball near the end zone, quarterback Sam Bradford was efficient but not spectacular. He did fumble a snap at the goal line on fourth down; certainly not a stellar display of composure. The running game didnít have much going for it, but both Pead and Daryl Richardson ran hard and protected the ball. Defensively St. Louis gave up five scores but only nine points (3 FGs) were scored by the Green Bay starters. Compared to 2012, the defense looks solid if not a touch better and the offense has much more potential but hasnít quite put it all together yet.

San Francisco 49ers

For the 49ers, their second preseason game was business as usual, with dominating defense, powerful rushing, and most first-team players not seeing much game time. On their first touch of the game, running back Frank Gore ran a beautifully executed cutback for 52 yards, which was more than half of the yards allowed by the San Francisco defense in the entire half (92 yards). They were also responsible for fifteen quarterback pressures (seven sacks and eight hurries) and nine tackles for loss. Facing the Chiefs' less-than-stellar offensive line helped, but the 49ers' dominance contributed more than their oppositionís weakness. Starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick was asked to do very little, yielding his time to the two backups vying for the No. 2 spot. Replacing David Akers, kicker Phil Dawson hit two 55-yard field goals in addition to a 42 yarder, with no misses. The game plan was to keep players healthy and let the defense dominate as backup quarterbacks battled for depth chart positioning; the result was successful but left fans wondering how much trouble the team would be in without Kaepernick. But goodness did the defense look spectacular!

Seattle Seahawks

It looks like the Seahawks have found a wide receiver to step up in place of the injured Percy Harvin. How Jermaine Kearse fits in among the other receivers hasnít been determined, but in six quarters of preseason football he has scored three touchdowns (107-yard kickoff return, 12-yard catch, 11-yard catch) to go along with his strong showing in training camp. In more good news for the Seahawks, this week tight end Zach Miller (plantar fasciitis) was activated from the PUP list, and defensive end Cliff Avril (foot, hamstring) practiced in pads for first time this season. In the 40-10 dismantling of the Broncos, the Seahawks couldnít stop the Denver quarterback but found ways to force turnovers against the run and after catches were made. Offensively, quarterback Russell Wilson threw two touchdowns on eight of twelve passing attempts for 127 yards in the first half, and the running game featured backups almost exclusively but was still good enough. The story of the game was four turnovers (including a 106-yard fumble recovery for a TD) and special teams performances. There were no real low points considering that they were facing a future Hall of Fame quarterback and his passing talents.

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons faced off against the 2012 Super Bowl champs in the second week of the preseason and came away with largely positive results. They didnít win but led 20-7 at halftime, suggesting the Atlanta starters were better than those of the Ravens. Running back Steven Jackson ran extremely well and quarterback Matt Ryan found wide receiver Julio Jones several times, including once for a touchdown. Veteran wide receiver Roddy White suffered a minor ankle injury but is expected to be ready for Week 1. The offensive line misses right tackle Mike Johnson but Lamar Holmes is filling in adequately. The defense isnít in great shape but they did limit Baltimore for an entire half, if you choose to exclude the long Torrey Smith touchdown catch and run. The linebacker position is dramatically thin with Sean Weatherspoon out, but heís been back to practice and is supposed to play in the third preseason game. In his absence, undrafted free agents Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu are making plays, possibly earning themselves roster spots. Even so, it is in the secondary in Atlanta that has the most at stake. The young talent at cornerback lacks experience but hopes to be able to make up for it with effort and natural ability.

Carolina Panthers

Perhaps the biggest goal for the Panthers this preseason was to avoid serious injuries. Through two games and all of training camp theyíve been almost entirely successful. After that, the good news is a little harder to find. Quarterback Cam Newton has started slow through two games, but at least against the Eagles he didnít throw an interception. The coaching staff has made a point to reduce the read-option game and turn Cam into more of a pocket passer while also simplifying his responsibilities. In games where he commits no turnovers the Panthers are 10-1, while in games where he produces 300-plus yards or three or more touchdowns Carolina is 4-10; counter-intuitively, his team is better when the star quarterback is more of a game manager. From the starting running backs only Jonathan Stewart was healthy against the Eagles, but he ran hard as part of the teamís revamped power rushing offense. On defense the Panthers did little to disrupt the quarterback competition in Philadelphia even though they did force three turnovers and cornerback Josh Norman came up with his second interception of the preseason. Rookie defensive tackle Star Lotulelei appeared unable to maintain the fast pace set by the Eagles.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints have been a tale of two teams recently: a phenomenal offense and a disappointing defense. Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan appears to be fixing the latter; against the Oakland starters the Saints recorded five sacks and didnít give up any points until a late-half touchdown made the game 23-7. Yes, this success was against the Raiders, but for once the Saints looked like a legitimate NFL defense. All of that was without Jonathan Vilma, also, who underwent a scope procedure on his knee Thursday and hopes to be ready for the regular-season opener. The defense still has holes all over, but as young players and quality veterans adapt to the 3-4 scheme, those holes will continue to shrink under Rob Ryan. On offense quarterback Drew Brees was in mid-season form, leading his team to two touchdowns and three Garrett Hartley field goals before halftime. Young wide receivers Kenny Stills and Nick Toon rose to the occasion as starters this week and caught a combined five catches for 120 yards and one touchdown. That in addition to the production from tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Darren Sproles bodes well for the New Orleans offense in 2013.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Through two preseason games, the Buccaneers starters havenít been particularly great on either side of the ball. This biggest issue last year was pass defense, and against the Patriots they showed no signs of improvement. New Englandís quarterback completed his first 11 passes and, even without star receiving options, the mismatches were painfully exploited. The first-half rushing defense allowed nearly five yards per carry and failed to close off running lanes. On offense quarterback Josh Freeman only participated in six plays (two completions on three attempts) but was sacked twice and constantly under pressure. Backup quarterbacks only fared better against the second-string defense. The running game was constantly disrupted in the backfield and had limited success on plays that werenít screens or draws. Starting running back Doug Martin suffered a minor head injury while pass blocking but was cleared to play by halftime, even though he didnít return. His backups recorded 154 yards on 33 carries, mostly against the Patriots' backups. Rookie kicker Derek Dimke added two more made field goals (37 and 23 yards) to his perfect preseason, making him 5-5 in the absence of Lawrence Tynes.

NFC NORTH

Chicago Bears

Once again the Bears are succeeding because of their defense and special teams, as they forced four turnovers and blocking a punt in addition to getting big returns from Devin Hester on the opening kickoff (45 yards) and his backup Michael Ford (100 yards). Against the Chargers, rookie linebacker Jon Bostic leveled a monster hit after a bubble screen, while defensive ends Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin came up with important sacks against the starting quarterback. Other areas of pass defense were mediocre and the run defense seemed to over pursue against the San Diego zone blocking scheme, but for now it was good enough. On offense there were a few bright spots (Matt Forte, for example) but things were mostly disappointing. Quarterback Jay Cutler was both good and bad, finding wide receiver Brandon Marshall in a tight window for a 5-yard touchdown but also tossing a terrible interception into double coverage. Other than two sacks early, the O-line was reasonable in pass protection, and in the running game they continually got a good push against an admittedly weak Chargers defense. Right tackle JíMarcus Webb was replaced by rookie Jordan Mills, joining fellow rookie Kyle Long on the right side. The O-line troubles from 2012 are slowly dissipating as the new starters begin to assert themselves.

Detroit Lions

The second preseason game was not a good one for the Lions, especially on offense; the first team has yet to score this preseason. Without wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee bruise), the offense was ineffective and conservative, though running back Reggie Bush handled a heavy load and displayed abilities reminiscent of another famous Detroit running back. The offensive line is currently in open competition at the right guard and right tackle positions, areas the Lions needed to improve upon before the season, and it seems that practice battles are beginning to pay off in live games. As bad as the offense was, it's possible the defense was worse. Safety Louis Delmas is still out and misses practice frequently to protect the health of his knees, and in his absence the secondary yielded to the Browns' quarterback without much resistance. The only bright spot is on the defensive line where tackle Ndamukong Suh continues to expand his leadership role. His energy and physicality drive the defense but are also responsible for unnecessary personal fouls. If the mistakes can be minimized and the rest of the team can play up to the standards of the D-line, Detroit will be much improved.

Green Bay Packers

Eddie Lacy made his long awaited NFL debut for the Green Bay Packers against St. Louis, and by all accounts he did not disappoint, averaging five yards per carry (8 car, 40 yds) and adding an 11-yard swing pass after spinning by a defender. In Green Bay, though, everything revolves around quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. Wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb were out for this game, but that allowed more time for tight end Jermichael Finley (4 rec, 78 yds) and a slew of backup receivers. No touchdowns were scored by the starters but they moved the ball well and only surrendered one sack. The defense gave up zero points and the starters came up with two big stops on fourth down inside their own five-yard line. They did get beat on two big plays (57 and 37 yds) but otherwise were solid against the Rams. Coach Mike McCarthy said the kicking competition between Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio is still ongoing though the veteran did go 3-3 compared to 1-2 from his challenger.

Minnesota Vikings

Evaluating the Vikings while superstar running back Adrian Peterson is on the sidelines seems a little disingenuous, but that is what preseason game number two requires. Incumbent starting quarterback Christian Ponder completed five passes for 53 yards in five offensive series and backup Matt Cassel wasnít any better. The offensive line suffered from poor play against the Bills' strong pass rushers, and without fullback Jerome Felton (recovering from an appendectomy) protecting the quarterback and lead blocking, they were incredibly disappointing. Two bad snaps from center only worsened their problems. But the game was close because of the play of the Vikings defense. In the first five Buffalo drives they forced four punts, and a pass tipped by Xavier Rhodes resulted in a Jamarca Sanford interception. On special teams, last yearís sensational rookie kicker, Blair Walsh, is still adjusting to the new timing associated with a new holder and long snapper, which was seemingly the excuse for his missing a 49-yard field goal wide right. Adrian Peterson is the heart and soul of the offense, and without him there things donít work like they should, but at least the defense can hold their own and keep games close in his absence.

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys

The offensive starters for the Cowboys committed five turnovers in the first half against the Cardinals. Two came at the end of otherwise phenomenal plays, a 27-yard catch by wide receiver Dez Bryant and a 43-yard catch and run by running back Lance Dunbar, both of which resulted in fumbles and coaches challenges. Each time the subsequent review led to a fumble being called (one upheld, one reversed) and Arizona gaining possession of the ball. Without those gaffs the Cowboys would have played reasonably well on offense. Aside from a miscommunication with wide receiver Terrance Williams, the passing game of quarterback Tony Romo was on time and on target as he committed no turnovers and his offensive line gave up no sacks. Dallas gained only 36 yards on 14 carries (plus two more for 12 yards from backup quarterback Alex Tanney), an area that needs to be improved next week against the tough defense of the Bengals. The Dallas defense played well, yielding only three field goals despite facing many short fields and more than fifty plays in the first half. If the defense can stay strong and the offense can limit turnovers, the Cowboys should have a great season.

Philadelphia Eagles

The biggest story for the Eagles is undoubtedly the competition at quarterback between Michael Vick and Nick Foles. Against the Panthers they both demonstrated their ability to run Chip Kellyís offense, though both did throw interceptions (Vick on a Hail Mary). Throughout training camp and to this point in the preseason the two appear to be neck and neck, but the stats do favor Vick. The third preseason game (at Jacksonville) will go a long way to determining the regular-season starter. Wide receiver Jeff Maehl was acquired in a trade with Houston for a reserve offensive lineman and is expected to compete for a depth position. Against Carolina running back LeSean McCoy had the play of the night, using speed and his ďShadyĒ agility on an open field run. Defensively the Eagles played much better against both the run and the pass, though there were few highlight-quality plays. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox pressured the quarterback frequently despite not recording a sack, and cornerback Bradley Fletcher gave reliable pass coverage while demonstrating great tackling skills. These two players will anchor the defense in Philadelphia if the Eagles are going to improve on their abysmal 2012 season.

New York Giants

Luckily for the Giants this is only the preseason because they made far too many mistakes against the Colts Sunday night. Ten penalties for 98 yards, and interception from QB Eli Manning in addition to a sure-thing bobbled interception from CB Aaron Ross that resulted in a TD for Indianapolis, and no scored touchdowns of their own. Three starters picked up minor injuries but all are expected to be ready for the third preseason game, a silver lining on an otherwise disappointing evening. The starting defense had a difficult time stopping Indianapolisí QB, allowing 107 yards and two TDs on nine of thirteen passing, though DE Justin Tuck did record a batted ball well behind the line of scrimmage. The running back committee of David Wilson and Andre Brown gained 70 yards on 16 carries and K Josh Brown was 4-4 (47, 45, 27, 25) on the night, but possibly the most inspiring display from the game happened before kickoff. New York put together a video tribute to ex-Giant now-Colt RB Ahmad Bradshaw recognizing his role in their Super Bowl winning seasons and what he contributed to the organization. Class act New York, well done.

Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins fans and even Robert Griffin III thought the star QB might be going into the game following the injury (foot sprain) to backup Kirk Cousins, but Coach Mike Shanahan stuck to his word and RG3 remained on the sideline. Rex Grossman went in instead and put in a respectable backup performance, tossing a TD to WR Leonard Hankerson but also throwing an interception. In the game against the Steelers both teams combined for seven turnovers in a combination of poor offensive play and spectacular defensive displays. LB Ryan Kerrigan intercepted Pittsburghís starting QB and returned it for a 27 yard TD and later forced a fumble by stripping the backup QB. Both teams were affected by a handful of injuries but none appeared to be immediately serious. Between penalties (fifteen total) and turnovers the game was relatively sloppy and with most starters leaving the game early itís not easy to draw many conclusions about individual performances. The biggest concern is at the QB position of course, but if returns as anticipated there will be a collective sigh of relief from the Redskins coaching staff and all across the nationís capital.