A Look at Rutgers’ Incoming Freshman Class

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Several players have size, speed, talent to contribute right away

When the Rutgers Scarlet Knights signed their class of 2010, they were immediately the most heralded class the school had ever signed – until the class of 2011 signed their names on the dotted lines.  This class has the type of potential that in 10-15 years down the line, they will be looked back upon as the class that helped RU turn the corner.  In some instances we are already starting to see the impact of the class of 2011, such as the commitments of top 2012 players like Leonte Carroo, as well as being contenders for 5-star DE Darius Hamilton.  Now as camp gets into full swing, we are starting to see the impact the Class of 2011 will have ON the field.  Here’s a player-by-player look at each of the recruits in the 2011 class and what kind of impact we think they will have this season.

 

Jonathan Aiken, CB – Aiken was one of the few EE for the Class of 2011.  While he possesses good size and speed, there just seems to be way too much competition for him to jump into the fray right away.

Prediction: Plays on special teams and coverage units

Mike Bimonte, QB - Bimonte has good size and a nice zip on the ball, but there’s no chance he unseats Chas Dodd.  What he is really competing for is the backup QB spot.

Prediction: Redshirt

Paul Canevari, RB/FB - Canevari was ultra-productive on the national championship Don Bosco team, but does not have overwhelming measureables.  That being said, after seeing what he did his senior year at Bosco, I wouldn’t bet against him.

Predicition: Tough as nails, sees time on specials and eventually gets groomed for fullback role

Charles Davis, CB – N/A

Prediction: JUCO

Anthony DiPaula, K/P – DiPaula appears to be the heir apparent to San San Te next year at Kicker, but this year he should challenge to be the Punter.

Prediction: Holds off the walk-on competition and is the starting Punter Week 1.

Quentin Gause, LB – Gause is a physical freak of nature, having the build of a college linebacker before he ever stepped on campus.  He is also coming in at a position of thin depth.

Prediction: Gause will play on all specials as a true freshman and will crack the 2 deep at LB by season opener.  Don’t be surprised if by midseason the combination of starting LBs is Gause, Beauharnais, and Greene.

Kyle George, DE – Another physically developed player who has all the tools to make an impact from Day 1.  DE may be the second thinnest position behind LB, which works in George’s favor.

Prediction: It seems very likely that George and Max Issaka will both see a great deal of playing time as true freshman, especially in pass rushing situations.  Because of the lack of depth here, he should be in the rotation early and if he outplays Isaaka, he may even earn a starting spot at one DE.

Dallas Hendrickson, C- Hendrickson is a JUCO transfer who was expected to start at Center from the day he stepped on campus until a knee injury derailed him.

Prediction: Redshirt

Savon Huggins, RB – The most highly touted skill-position recruit to EVER commit to Rutgers, he has Freshman All-American potential and is physically and mentally mature beyond his years.

Prediction: Huggins will be RU’s starting tailback sooner rather than later, with a good possibility the sooner being Week 1.

Max Issaka, DE – One of the handful of former Pitt commits to flip to RU when Hafley & Co. came to the Banks, Issaka has the size and speed necessary to be an impact DE from Day 1.

Prediction: He will crack the 2 deep by the end of camp and see extensive playing time this season, especially in passing and nickel situations.

Myles Jackson, DE – Jackson was one of the later offers RU gave out and while he certainly has the frame to work with, he is going to need some time in a strength and conditioning program, as well as an opportunity to truly learn the defensive end position.

Prediction: Redshirt

Kaleb Johnson, OG – Johnson comes to RU as one of the strongest players on the team already and he has been spoken very highly of by Coach Schiano thus far.

Prediction: Should be on the two deep at the guard slot opposite Lowery, with an outside chance to start at some point later this season.

Tejay Johnson, WR – Johnson had to spend a year at Fork Union upon graduation to get his grades in order, but reports out of camp so far is that he looks good and runs fast-very fast.

Prediction: This is a tossup because of the depth at WR, but I’ll say he ends up playing on the return teams (KR/PR) and sees some playing time in the slot, allowing RU to redshirt Miles Shuler.

Kenneth Kirksey, DT - A teammate of Johnson’s at Fork Union this past season, Kirksey is very well put together for a DT and because of the uncertainty opposite Scott Vallone, the opportunity for PT is there.

Prediction: Kirksey takes advantage of the lack of depth along the DL and sees extended playing time, even earning a few starts.

Tyler Kroft, TE - Kroft looks like he will be the tight end of the future for Rutgers, especially given the emphasis OC Frank Cignetti puts on the position.

Prediction – Redshirt

Keith Lumpkin, OT – An absolute mammoth of a young man, Lumpkin is already the tallest lineman on the Rutgers squad, but needs some time to get stronger and learn the position more and improve his technique.

Prediction – Redshirt

Ben Martin, RB – Martin certainly has the speed to be an asset at the RB position, recording a sub 4.4 last summer, but in a crowded backfield that features Savon Huggins and some talented veterans, carries will be hard to come by.

Prediction – Redshirt

Djwany Mera, DE/DT – Whether Mera plays DE or DT, one thing is for certain, he IS going to play.

Prediction - Mera will be a starter at some point this season on the DL.

Gary Nova, QB – Nova doesn’t possess the size that Bimonte does, but as far as intangibles go, he falls into that Mike Teel-type category.

Prediction – Nova beats out Bimonte and is Chas Dodd’s primary backup, getting some PT sporadically.

Al Page, DT – One of 4 true DTs that RU signed in the Class of 2011, Page is a wildcard at the DT position.

Prediction - I think between Kirksey, Mera, and the veterans, it allows Page to redshirt unless he blows up during camp.

Miles Shuler, WR – Shuler is one of the fastest football players in the entire country and while it’s hard to keep that kind of speed on the sidelines, this will be his first season as a true wide receiver.

Prediction – Unfortunately for fans, Shuler redshirts and they have to wait a year to see that blazing speed spread the field.

Kevin Snyder, LB – Snyder has some great size for a linebacker and also moves well sideline-to-sideline.  There has also been some talk of moving him to tight end.

Prediction: Snyder stays at LB, becoming part of the rotation and also plays on specials.

Daryl Stephenson, DT – Similar to Page, Stephenson will be a force at DT down the line, but unless he explodes during camp, it looks like he’ll redshirt this season.

Prediction: Redshirt

Marquise Wright, DT - Wright has the tools and talent to make an impact right away, but it remains to be seen whether he will stay at DT or move to Guard.

Prediction: Redshirt, as they decide where to keep him permanently.

 

Don’t forget to check out OnTheBanks.com for the latest RU news!

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Houston Texans defeat New York Jets 20-16 in Preseason Action

 

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Backup RB Ogbonnaya Steals Show

With neither the Texans nor the Jets at full strength, it was a couple of backups who stole the show.  The Texans chose to rest last season’s NFL rushing leader Arian Foster, his backup RB Steve Slaton, Pro Bowl LB Brian Cushing, and All-Pro WR Andre Johnson, while the Jets were without the services of starting center Nick Mangold, starting RG Brandon Moore, and WR Plaxico Burress.  The Jets would also lose key reserve OL Wayne Hunter to a knee injury, backup RB Joe McKnight (head), and Bart Scott to an apparent leg injury on the first play from scrimmage, although he would return briefly.  With all these marquee names not in action, it was Texans’ backup running back Chris Ogbonnaya who stole the show.

Mark Sanchez looked sharp in his limited playing time, going 6/7 for 43 yards, with his only incompletion being a dropped pass by backup TE Matthew Mulligan.  Most of the starters for both teams would exit at the end of the first quarter, when the Jets were leading 3-0 on a Nick Folk field goal.  In the second quarter, Ogbonnaya would take over, scoring on a 4 yard touchdown pass from Matt Leinart in between field goals by Neil Rackers, to give the Texans a 13-3 lead at halftime.  The Jets would pull closer in the second half after a Nick Novak field goal and a Patrick Turner touchdown reception from seventh-round pick Greg McElroy, out of Alabama.  With the game tied up 13-13 heading into the 4th quarter, Nick Folk would break the tie with a 40-yard field goal.  Once again, Ogbonnaya would seize the opportunity and score on a 1-yard rushing TD to lift the Texans to a 20-16 victory.

Here are the final stats from last night’s game:

Rushing

Jets- Shonn Greene 5-32, Bilal Powell 9-25, Joe McKnight 5-24, Greg McElroy 4-34, LaDanian Tomlinson 1-4

Texans- Chris Ogbonnaya 17-37, Derrick Ward 2-5

Passing

Jets- McElroy 23/39 208 Yds 1 TD, Sanchez 6/7 43 Yds

Texans- T.J. Yates 6/12 97 Yds, Matt Leinart 8/14 78 Yds 1 TD, Matt Schaub 2/5 20 Yds

Receving

Jets- Jeff Cumberland 6-77, Patrick Turner 6-32, Baker 3-45, Powell 3-27, Mason 3-21, Kerley 3-20, Holmes 2-17, Greene 1-5, McKnight 1-4, Campbell 1-3

Texans- Ogbonnaya 6-67, Jean 2-53, Vickers 1-22, Ward 1-11, Graham 1-10, Casey 1-9, Walter 1-9, Townsel 1-6, Maehl 1-5, Jones 1-3

Monday Rewind

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NFL

  • In the first Monday Night Football game of the 2011 season, the Houston Texans defeated the New York Jets 20-16.  While the Texans chose to hold out some of their stars like Arian Foster, Andre Johnson (dislocated finger), and Steve Slaton, the Jets were mostly at full strength, albeit for only the first quarter.  Mark Sanchez went 6/7 for 43 yards while Chris Ogbonnaya powered the Texans with two touchdowns.
  • Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora finally ended his holdout and returned to Monday’s afternoon practice at the the team’s indoor facility.  While this certainly doesn’t mark the end of this feud, it does appear to be a step in the right direction.
  • The Buffalo Bills finally cut ties with 2009 first-round draft pick Aaron Maybin, releasing him Monday.  Maybin was selected with the #11 overall pick in ’09 out of Penn State, but failed to register a sack or even a start in his two year stint with the team.
  • Daunte Culpepper continues to take steps towards a comeback as he worked out for the San Francisco 49ers Monday.  The 49ers are considering adding him as a backup to Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.

MLB

  • New York Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett finally registered a win in August as the Yanks defeated the Royals 7-4.  Derek Jeter had 3 RBIs and Brett Gardner had 2 to lead the Yankees.
  • Minnesota Twins designated hitter Jim Thome entered the elite 600 Home Run Club last night as he hit a 3 run shot off the Detroit Tigers’ Daniel Schlereth.
  • The Detroit Tigers made a move to bolster their outfield yesterday as they acquired Delmon Young from the Minnesota Twins for a minor league pitcher and a player to be named later.
  • The Mets continue to get hit by the injury bug as they now have Jose Reyes, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Johan Santana, Chris Young, and Taylor Buchholz on the disabled list.

NCAA Football

  • Texas A&M is contemplating whether to join the Southeastern Conference (SEC) or remain in the Big 12.  The Big 12 is down to 10 teams after Nebraska left for the Big Ten and Colorado left for the PAC-12, so Texas A&M is weighing its’ options.
  • Missouri Tiger senior offensive tackle Elvis Fisher collapsed to the ground on Monday at practice while clutching his left knee.  Fisher has made 40 consecutive starts for Missouri and has been name All-Big 12 the past two seasons.
  • The NCAA continued its mass probe into potential college football violations when they showed up on the University of Miami campus Monday, looking into claims that more than a dozen current and former players received gifts and benefits from convicted Ponzi Scheme henchman Nevin Shapiro.  Shapiro claims that he allowed the players to use his yacht to have parties.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights hold first scrimmage

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Highly-touted recruit Huggins doesn’t disappoint

Take a second and think about this scenario.  As a senior in high school, just off an ultra-successful senior football campaign, you have scholarship offers from virtually every major program in the country being that your a Top 5 national running back.  Schools like University of Southern California, University of Florida, and University of North Carolina, just to name a few, are vying for your services, enticing you with promises of playing as a true freshman and being part of a program that annually challenges for a national championship.  Not only that, you can put yourself in a position to be the next in a line of countless first round NFL draft picks.  Instead, you choose to stay home and play for your home state school, where they have never reached a BCS bowl, never mind even sniffed a national championship, and you can count the number of 1st round NFL Draft picks on one hand.  Oh, and because your the highest ranked skill position player IN HISTORY to sign with the school, your expected to start from day 1, attract other high profile recruits, and essentially be the savior to turn the program around.

Sound stressful?  To Savon Huggins, that pressure doesn’t even make him flinch.  This was evidenced by his performance in the Scarlet Knights first scrimmage when all he did was rush for 169 yards on 26 carries with 1 touchdown.  He also had the perhaps the play of the day, when he broke off a 52-yard touchdown run against the first team defense.  Huggins showed an ability to hit it up in between the tackles as well as bounce it to the outside in a manner that hasn’t been seen on the banks since the days of Ray Rice.  While he is technically listed as the backup to Jeremy Deering on the depth chart, make no mistake about it, this is Huggin’s team, true freshman or not.  And if his performance in the scrimmage is any indication, I don’t think anyone will have a problem with that.

 

 

NFC East Predictions

 

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After extensive research, here are our official PTS predictions for the NFC East..

Standings:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Dallas Cowboys
  3. New York Giants
  4. Washington Redskins

 

NFC East Offensive Player of the Year:

Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

NFC East Defensive Player of the Year:

DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas Cowboys

NFC East Offensive Rookie of the Year:

Tyron Smith, RT, Dallas Cowboys

NFC East Defensive Rookie of the Year:

Marvin Austin, DT, New York Giants

NFC East Comeback Player of the Year:

Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Statistical Leaders

Leading rusher: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles

Leading passer: Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

Leading receiver: Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys

Leading tackler: Bradie James, Dallas Cowboys

Leader in Sacks: DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys / Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins

 

 

Best defense: Philadelphia Eagles

 

PTS NFL Preview: Washington Redskins

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In keeping up with our NFL Preview, today we will take a look at the last team in the NFC East, the Washington Redskins.  If you missed any of our other NFC East Previews, they can be found here: Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and Dallas Cowboys.

Offseason

Free Agency: Aside from the Philadelphia Eagles, the Washington Redskins may have been the second most active team in free agency; The only problem is they were far less successful, didn’t feel some of their most pressing needs, and overspent on a lot of players.  Their first priority should have been finding a free agent QB, like Kevin Kolb, or drafting a QB, once they traded Donovan McNabb to the Minnesota Vikings.  Anytime a team heads into the season with John Beck as your starting QB, chances are you’ll be drafting very highly next season.  Once they committed to Beck, their first objective was to surround him with weapons.  They re-signed Santana Moss to a 3-year deal, they traded for Jabar Gaffney, and also signed free agent WR Donte’ Stallworth.  The ‘Skins had over 10 of their own players who either started or contributed headed to free agency, so they made it a priority to lock up their own guys first.  They locked up OT Jamaal Brown, Rocky McIntosh, Phillip Buchanon, HB Blades, and Reed Doughty.  They turned their attention to the remaining free agent market and were able to lure Barry Cofield, perhaps their best signing, away from the Giants with a huge 6-year deal.  They were able to land Cofield because they traded Albert Haynesworth and his enormous contract to the New England Patriots for a 5th Round pick.  They also added up to 7 potential starters with the signings of former Rams safety O.J. Atogwe, K Shayne Graham, CB Josh Wilson (who will replace the departed Carlos Rogers, a 49ers signee), DE/DT Stephen Bowen, OT Sean Locklear, P Sav Rocca, and G Chris Chester.  Perhaps one of their best moves other than the Cofield signing was trading for Tim Hightower, from the Arizona Cardinals, for Vonnie Holliday.

Draft: Many expected the Redskins to draft Blaine Gabbert with the #10 overall pick, but they shocked everyone when they traded the pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars and moved down to #16, especially due to the lack of NFL ready QBs in the lower end of the 1st round.  With their first pick they took Ryan Kerrigan, a DE/OLB from Purdue, who they hope can man the OLB post opposite Brian Orakpo; overall I wasn’t impressed with this pick.  With the extra selection they picked up in the trade with Jacksonville, they took Clemson’s Jarvis Jenkins, a DE/DT.  He should compete for playing time or be part of the rotation at the very least.  Their next pick may have been their best of the draft when they selected Miami WR Leonard Hankerson who should start as a rookie.  After Hankerson they had 9 selections remaining, many of which were headscratchers including selecting Nebraska RB Roy Helu with better running backs on the board and greater needs to fill.  Of the final 8 selections, the highlights were Nebraska WR Niles Paul, Penn State RB Evan Royster, who holds most of the school’s rushing records, and DE/OLB Markus White from Florida State who was a highly touted recruit who never quite lived up to the hype.  Don’t be surprised if he makes a name for himself as he could develop into a fine pass rusher.

Offense

Quarterback will be the reason this team likely has the #1 overall pick next year, which isn’t all that bad considering Andrew Luck will the grand prize.  John Beck has been named the starter, but with a minor injury, Rex Grossman will challenge him for playing time.  Newly acquired Tim Hightower will be the man at running back and will be joined by returning starters Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams, while Mike Sellers returns at FB.  The team returns Santana Moss at one WR spot while Anthony Armstrong, Jabar Gaffney, and Donte’ Stallworth will try and hold off Leonard Hankerson at the other slot.  The tight end position is in good hands with Chris Cooley and Fred Davis.  The offensive line has the potential to be strong with LT Trent Williams, LG Kory Lichtensteiger, C Will Montgomery, RG Chris Chester, and RT Jamaal Brown.  The line will need to play exceptional because of the deficiencies at QB and the skill positions.

Defense

This will be year 2 of the Redskins’ transition to the 3-4 defense, and while they were far from dominant last year, they definitely showed signs of improvement.  OLB Brian Orakpo is one of the best in the league at his position as is ILB Rocky McIntosh.  The 3 down lineman will be LE Adam Carriker, last year’s first round pick who has made huge strides, NT Barry Cofield, their big offseason signing, and RE Stephen Bowen, their other big offseason pick up.  The 4 linebackers will be rookie Ryan Kerrigan at LOLB, London Fletcher and McIntosh at MLB, and Orakpo at ROLB.  The secondary should be improved with capable corners DeAngelo Hall, who has boom or bust potential, Josh Wilson, and Phillip Buchanon.  The safety position is clearly upgraded with the addition of O.J. Atogwe, who will be flanked by LaRon Landry.

Special Teams

Graham Gano was spectacular as a rookie, but the team brought in Shayne Graham for competition.  Free agent signing Sav Rocca will handle the punting duties.  The electrifying 5’7” Brandon Banks will handle be the KR/PR, while DeAngelo Hall could also be a factor at KR.

Weekend Quick Hits

 

 

Weekend dominated by NFL Preseason action

  • Miami Dolphins 28 Atlanta Falcons 23: The score from this game is a bit deceiving as by the time the Falcon’s first team offense left the field in the first quarter, the game was already over.  The Falcons first team exploded in the first quarter with a touchdown run by Michael Turner, a TD pass from Matt Ryan to Harry Douglas, and a 27-yard field goal by Matt Bryant.  Matt Ryan looked sharp in the few series he played as he was 6/10 for 90 yards and 1 TD.  Rookie Julio Jones also made his much anticipated debut and hauled in 2 receptions for 43 yards.  As for the Miami Dolphins, it looks like this will be another LONG season for them.  They chose to not properly address the quarterback position yet again, and head into the season with Chad Henne, Matt Moore, and Pat Devlin as their options, although Moore did have his moments going 11/18 for 123 yards 2 TDs and 1 INT.
  • Detroit Lions 24 Cincinnati Bengals 3: This game was a painful preview of what the Bengals’ season is going to look like without Carson Palmer.  While management wouldn’t budge on Palmer’s request to either be traded or he would retire, it looks like the winner of this game of chicken is Carson Palmer.  Knowing they would likely be heading into the season without Palmer, the Bengals drafted Andy Dalton out of TCU in the second round of the draft and Saturday night’s game showed he simply isn’t ready now (or maybe ever) to be an NFL quarterback.  The Lions first team laid 14 points on the Bengals defense in a matter of minute in the first quarter with Matthew Stafford looking superb by going 6/7 for 71 yards and 2 TDs, one to Calvin Johnson and one to Nate Burelson.  After the starters were removed, there was just about next to nothing worth reporting.
  • Carolina Panthers 20 New York Giants 10: This was perhaps the most anticipated week 1 preseason game.  While Cam Newton did not start, he relieved Jimmy Clauson in the second quarter and played the rest of the game.  He looked every bit worth the Panthers’ #1 pick as he showed a seamless transition to taking snaps from under center and used his arm and feet to keep the Giants defense off balance.  Newton’s numbers were pedestrian as he was only 8/19 for 134 yards, but the flashes were certainly there.  Other noteworthy action was Panthers’ recently acquired tight end Greg Olsen catching his first TD.  It looks as if Olsen will give the Panthers the playmaking tight end they have sorely lacked for years, as well as a safety valve for Newton.  On the flipside, the Giants have some major holes to fill if they play on being competitive this season, especially after losing Kevin Boss and Steve Smith, further depleting an already weakened receiving corp.
  • In other action: Redskins 16 Steelers 7, Buccaneers 25 Chiefs 0, Saints 24 49ers 3, Browns 27 Packers 17, Bears 10 Bills 3, Rams 33 Colts 10, Titans 14 Vikings 3

Thursday Rewind

 

NFL

  • The NFL Preseason kicked off last evening with four games being held Thursday night, five games begin held Saturday, five games taking place on Sunday, and 1 game being played Monday Evening.
  • JAC vs. NE (47-12) - The first game last night saw New England dismantle Jacksonville by a score of 47-12.  While Tom Brady sat out, back up Brian Hoyer and rookie Ryan Mallett filled in admirably, both passing for nearly 170 yards and 1 TD a piece.  The star of the game however was New England’s LSU rookie RB Steven Ridley who had 64 yards rushing and 2 TDs to go along with 7 receptions for 47 yards and 1 TD.  Patriots’ WR Taylor Price played well also as he hauled in 5 receptions for 105 yards and 1 TD
  • PHI vs. BAL (13-6) – Another game that saw the starting quarterbacks play a very limited amount of time, with Joe Flacco going 3-6 for 60 yards on his only drive, while Michael Vick was 4-6 for 74 yards and 1 TD.  While 4 of the 5 scores on the game were field goals as the Eagles won 13-6, the highlight of the game was Baltimore Ravens backup QB Tyrod Taylor, who is fighting for the #2 spot behind Joe Flacco, as he was 19/28 for 179 yards and also led the team in rushing with 6 rushes for 59 yards.
  • SEA vs. SD (24-17) – While the Seahawks would win 24-17, they exited the game with more questions than answers.  They played all three quarterbacks; Tavaris Jackson, who was supposed to be Matt Hasselbeck’s heir apparent but doesn’t seem to be ready yet, Charlie Whitehurst, who has the tools but lacks the experience, and Josh Portis, who is only a rookie but had the best passing efficiency.  Thomas Clayton and Leon Washington both rushed for TDs for Seattle, while Philip Rivers was his dependable self going 5/6 for 87 yards and 1 TD on his only drive.  Bryan Walters would return a 103 yard kick return for a touchdown to give the Chargers the lead before TE Anthony McCoy caught a TD pass and Thomas Clayton’s 25 yard run put the nail in the coffin.
  • DAL vs. DEN (24-23) -This game was much more than simply a preseason, warmup game.  There were several underlying stories including the battle at quarterback for the Denver Broncos and how effective the new-look Cowboys offense would be.  For the Broncos, Kyle Orton started the game and seems to be entrenched in the starting role.  While Orton would only lead one drive and was 2/6 for 37 yards, the real competition was for who would back him up.  Brady Quinn won round one last evening by going 8/14 for 120 yards with 1 TD.  Tebow performed well going 6/7 for 91 yards and 15 rushing yards, but he still has a way to go before becoming a starting quarterback at this level.  The man who stole the show however, was Dallas Cowboys’ backup quarterback Stephen McGee.  Not only was he 14/24 for 208 yards and 3 touchdowns, he also had 4 rushes for 25 yards.  For a Dallas offense that lost Roy Williams, Marion Barber, and Leonard Davis, they didn’t appear to miss a beat, and 6th round pick, Dwayne Harris, showed the team that they made the right decision by releasing Williams as he hauled in 5 passes for 127 yards and 2 TDs.
  • ARI vs OAK (24-18) – Between both teams, a total of 7 quarterbacks saw extended action, with newly acquired Kevin Kolb struggling a bit in his debut.  The other 3 Cardinals quarterbacks that played, John Skelton, Max Hall, and Richard Bartel, all tossed touchdowns, but don’t expect there to be a quarterback controversy in Phoenix.  The Raiders rotated Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller, and Trent Edwards, while neither team truly established a running game.  While the game as a whole was pretty uneventful, the ending was exciting as Max Hall tossed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Williams as time expired to give the Cardinals the win.

 

Last Evening’s NFL Preseason Recap

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NFL Preseason action kicked off last evening as 8 teams were in action.  While the marquee names and starters were limited to little, if any action, the return of football was met with excitement by all fans following the lockout.  Here is a game-by-game review, as well as some story lines to keep an eye on moving forward.

New England Patriots 47 Jacksonville Jaguars 12

While Patriots’ starting quarterback Tom Brady watched the entire game from the sidelines, it gave rookie 3rd round draft pick Ryan Mallett, out of Arkansas, the opportunity for extended playing time.  While Brian Hoyer started at QB for the Pats, when Mallett was called on all he did was lead the Patriots to 4 second half touchdown drives.  One of the underlying themes of this game was the rivalry between Mallett and the Jaguars’ draft pick, rookie QB Blaine Gabbert.  Both were very highly rated coming out of college and while Mallett had the prototypical pocket passer size at 6’7” 240 lbs., there were also character concerns.  He was visibly disappointed on draft day when he was passed over by the Miami Dolphins in the first round and he ended up sliding all the way to the Patriots in the 3rd round, while Gabbert was selected at #10 overall by the Jaguars.  All things considered, the move may have turned out for the best, as Mallett will have time to develop behind one of the best quarterbacks of all-time in Tom Brady, while Gabbert will be thrown into the fire almost immediately.  While the 47-12 score was more indicative of the teams focusing on getting all their players on the field to evaluate who may make the final roster, Mallett showed glimpses of why teams may regret not selecting him earlier in the draft.  Overall, Gabbert was quite inconsistent in his professional debut.

Player of the Game: New England Patriots’ RB Steven Ridley: 64 yards rushing and 2 TDs, 7 receptions 47 yards 1 TD

Philadelphia Eagles 13 Baltimore Ravens 6

This was perhaps the most anticipated preseason game on opening weekend due to the complete overhaul the Eagles made to their roster.  In an effort to avoid reiterating that most teams don’t play their starters at all in most circumstances, fans were still excited to see the new look Eagles.  In Michael Vick’s brief cameo, he picked up exactly where he left off last season by throwing for 74 yards and a touchdown in his only series, before taking a seat on the bench for the remainder of the game.  Fans were excited to get to see Nnamdi Asomugha and Vince Young in Eagles uniforms, albeit it, for a very short period of time.  Also to keep an eye on was how Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco would pick up after last season and whether Ricky Williams would see action just days after signing to be Ray Rice’s understudy.  While Flacco would lead the Ravens 60 yards on the opening drive to a field goal, Ricky Williams remained inactive.  Both teams were not at full strength as the Eagles started Jason Avant and Riley Cooper at WR, as DeSean Jackson is just returning from a 12-day hold out and Jeremy Maclin is sidelined with an undisclosed injury.  On the opening drive Vick would connect with Avant on a 20-yard pass followed by a 42-yard pass to Riley Cooper over Ed Reed, which would lead to a touchdown pass from Vick to Brent Celek.  One of the big issues for the Eagles would be how they would manage to get Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Asante Samuel on the field at the same time.  While Asomugha only played two series, the 3 were on the field together with Samuel lining up at a safety spot.

 

Player of the Game: Baltimore Ravens QB Tyrod Taylor: 19/28 179 yards passing, 59 yards rushing

 

Seattle Seahawks 24 San Diego Chargers 17

The main focus heading into this game was whether Pete Caroll made the right move by trading for Tavaris Jackson to be his starting quarterback.  While his only other option, Charlie Whitehurst, is far from a Pro-Bowler, questions still remained whether this was the best possible decision.  If Jackson can somehow replicate Rivers’ performance, then the Seahawks will be in very good shape.  In his only series, Rivers completed 5 of 6 passes while leading an 89-yard scoring drive.  Jackson passed for only 13 yards in two mediocre (and I use that word lightly) series.  Jackson was bailed out by running back Thomas Clayton who broke out for a 25-yard touchdown run to break the tie.  The final score couldn’t be less indicative of how this game went as Rivers was nearly flawless tossing a 48-yard pass to Vincent Jackson and an 8 yard touchdown pass to Mike Tolbert.  Even special teams got into the action as Cornell graduate Bryan Walters returned a kickoff 103 yards for a TD.  While Seahawks running back Leon Washington did manage to run for a 1-yard touchdown rush, the team is optimistic that the offense will have a new dynamic when Sidney Rice and Mike Williams return, giving Tavaris Jackson two top-flight pass catchers.

 

Players of the Game: 

  • San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers 5/6 87 yards 1 TD on 1 drive
  • Seattle Seahawks RB Thomas Clayton 16 rushing attempts for 62 yards and 1 TD

Dallas Cowboys 24 Denver Broncos 23

There were several headlines heading into this game that fans were focused on.  First and foremost was how much, if at all, would Tim Tebow play and does he have a legitimate chance to be the Broncos’ starting quarterback.  Broncos fans were also concerned about whether Knoshown Moreno would finally live up to the hype that made him a high first round draft pick.  Lastly, since trading Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins, the Broncos have not had a bonafide #1 receiver – Who is going to catch the ball?  Finally, the staff wanted to see what kind of impact Texas A&M LB and #3 overall pick Von Miller could make, as he was widely considered the best pass rusher in the entire draft.  The Cowboys had questions of their own like how would Tony Romo’s shoulder hold up, will the backfield be as effective without Marion Barber, and can our secondary rebound from a horrid performance last season.  Last evening’s game appears as though it went a long way in determining roster decisions for this upcoming season.  First and foremost, 3rd year QB out of Texas A&M Stephen McGee, Tony Romo’s understudy the past two years, broke out in a big way finishing 14-24 for 208 yards and 3 touchdowns, as well as 4 rushes for 25 yards.  It appears as though he is ready to unseat Jon Kitna for the backup role to Romo.  For the Broncos, it seems clear that Orton is the starting quarterback and that Tebow will be in a battle with Brady Quinn for the backup job.  The game actually ended on an exciting note as rookie Dwayne Harris caught a 13-yard pass from Stephen McGee with just over 5 minutes left.  The Cowboys had mishandled the previous extra point, so this touchdown brought the score to 23-22.  Rather than kick the extra point to tie up the game, the Cowboys went for a fake field goal and Stephen McGee hit backup TE Martin Rucker for a 2 point conversion to give the Cowboys a 24-23 victory

Players of the Game:

Dallas Cowboys QB Stephen McGee: 14/24 208 and 3 TDs, 4 rushes for 25 yards

Dallas Cowboys WR Dwayne Harris: 5 receptions 127 yards 2 TDs, with a long reception of 76 yards, 1 KR for 31 yards

Arizona Cardinals 24 Oakland Raiders 18

Kevin Kolb connected twice with the player likely to be his favorite target this year, Larry Fitzgerald, but he was unable to lead the Cards into the endzone  On the bright side, the Cardinals did get a chance to take a look at several of their young players, including a handful of quarterbacks such as Fordham product John Skelton, Max Hall, and Richard Bartel.  Skelton had the best numbers going 6/10 for 94 yards and 1 TD, but Bartel also threw a TD, as did Max hall who was 4-4 for 64 yards and 1 TD.  The Cardinals wide receiver position looks deep with Larry Fitgerald, 3rd year WR Isaiah Williams, who hauled in 3 passes for 50 yards and 1 TD, and new addition, former Pro-Bowl TE Todd Heap.  The Raiders look to have a quarterback controversy brewing as Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller, and Trent Edwards all had their moments.  With Beanie Wells and most of Arizona’s other starters choosing not to play, there isn’t much to be encouraged by other than that all 3 of the team’s quarterbacks threw TD passes, including a 28-yarder from Max Hall to Isaiah Williams for the game winner.

Player of the Game:

Arizona Cardinals WR Isaiah Williams: 3 receptions 50 yards, 1 TD (game winner)

 

 

 

 

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List of Friday’s Articles

Beginning tomorrow, we take a look back at the biggest events from the sporting world over the past of the week in case you missed anything.  Our PTS NFL Preview of the NFC East will conclude tomorrow with our look at the Washington Redskins, and after we review the Redskins, we will publish the first in our series of PTS NFL Division Superlatives that will feature our predictions on everything from standings, division MVP, leading passer, rusher, tackler, league offensive and defensive rookie of the year, amongst much more.  Don’t forget to check back for the most up-to-date information on the sports world here at PTS!