Judging a team or a player during a preseason game can often be like assessing a girl’s attractiveness over the phone. Sure, she sounds pretty, but your imagination can be deceiving. We see and hear whatever we want, and whether it’s the model date, or model quarterback, the judgment phase can be more mirage than reality.
But an impressive throw is still an impressive throw, and there are nuggets of information to be gleaned about possible future stars and role players as they play in the August heat. As the preseason rolls along, each week we’ll look at who has impressed, disappointed, and developments in position battles.
In the good books
+ So, that Kevin Kolb guy is pretty good. You can count me among the doubters, but I must not be the only one who sees Kolb’s talent, but isn’t ready to jump on board after two measly regular season starts, right? Whatever. Kolb was highly effective against Jacksonville Friday night, connecting on six of his 11 pass attempts and throwing for 95 yards.
+ Hey look, Rex Grossman is still in the NFL. Neat. Grossman had one of the most ungraceful falls from grace, and sure, most of his snaps Friday came against second stringers, but it was still nice to see the former Bears QB connect on a few deep balls. Grossman threw for 140 yards and two touchdowns, showing that the Redskins may have capable backup on their hands if prized offseason acquisition Donovan McNabb–who has missed 10 games over the last four years–goes down.
+ Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams impressed early. Williams, the rookie fourth-round pick who has already made the Bucs’ starting unit, caught a long pass in the first quarter to set up the only score by either first team offence in Saturday’s 10-7 loss to Miami.
+ Devin Aromashodu was buried on Chicago’s depth chart in the early part of last season until he emerged in an upset win over the Vikings in December, hauling in the game-winning touchdown in overtime and 150 receiving yards. If the Bears offence expects to bounce back under Mike Martz, they’ll need major contributions from the likes of Aromashodu, Devin Hester, and Johnny Knox. So far Aromashodu is doing his part, racking up 48 yards and a touchdown Saturday against the Chargers.
In the bad books
+ The infatuation with Matt Moore after his glowing finish last season–eight touchdowns over the final five games– has seemingly spread to every corner of the NFL media. Moore didn’t look terrible Thursday night against Baltimore, but he didn’t look great either. Meanwhile, until the heavens opened and the rain started to fall, rookie Jimmy Clausen had a solid debut. It’s widely expected that Moore will start week 1, and that it’s his job to lose. But Clausen showed he’s more than capable if Moore stumbles.
+ It doesn’t take much to send football-mad Dallas into a frenzy, and the Cowboys’ red-zone offence had the fans of America’s team seeing red. With Tony Romo and the first team offence in for one of the red-zone blunders, Dallas settled for a field goal three times deep inside of Raiders’ territory. There’s a trend here: The Cowboys were very middle-of-the-packish in the red-zone last season, finishing 14th in the league after scoring touchdowns on 52 per cent of their visits.
+ To the surprise of no one, Kansas City’s offensive line is still awful. Matt Cassel–who was sacked 43 times last year–went down twice against the Falcons during his limited playing time Friday, with one resulting in a fumble.
+ Unless Mike Tomlin is convinced to go with Dennis Dixon, Steelers fans saw the harsh reality they’ll face with Byron Leftwich at the helm of the offence to start the season. Chants of “we want Ben!” came down from the stands as Leftwich could only muster 48 yards through the air against the Lions. Capping off the unpleasant evening for the first team offence, Leftwich was sacked for an eight-yard loss and also had a mental lapse when he unintentionally spiked the ball.
+ It’s as if C.J Spiller hired a hitman. Just when it looked like some ugly three-headed monster would emerge in the Bills’ backfield, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch went down with injuries in Buffalo’s first preseason game Friday against the Redskins. Jackson’s hand injury is more serious. Not only will he miss the rest of the preseason, but Jackson could miss time during the regular season too. Spiller now gets an edge in the battle for carries in Buffalo with the increased reps he’ll receive in practice.