Marcus Mariota threw his first pick in a Titans uniform, the Bills quarterbacks looked pretty good and more from Friday’s preseason action.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota made his preseason debut with the team on Friday, and it was a so-so performance overall. Mariota was mostly accurate with his passes, completing 7 of 8 for 94 yards, but it wasn’t smooth sailing by any means.
Mariota didn’t look particularly comfortable in the pocket, which was one of the biggest complaints about him coming out of college and it’s obviously something he still needs to spend time working on at the next level. Still, he only missed on one pass and he did lead the Titans on a scoring drive.
Unfortunately, that one miss was his first interception in a Titans uniform, when he was picked off by Justin Durant. That drive led to an Atlanta Falcons field goal. The ensuing Titans possession was even worse — Mariota had the ball knocked out of his hands, and the Falcons managed to recover it and take it in for a touchdown, putting them up, 17-0.
So yeah, Mariota did struggle, but he also finished with a decent stat line and a quarterback rating of 76.0. His backup, Zach Mettenberger, came in and played well for the most part. Mettenberger completed 8 of 10 passes for 129 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
3 things we learned from Friday’s games
Bills QB battle is alive and well
Taylor threw some nice passes, but did have some misses. He ultimately completed 5 of 8 passes for 49 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions, but he did lead two drives that ended with Bills finding the end zone. Where Taylor outshone Cassel was on the ground — he kept the ball six times and went 47 yards. Taylor will get the start in next week’s game.
Next was Manuel, and unfortunately for him, he didn’t look good from the onset. His first drive was a disaster, though Marquise Goodwin did drop the ball and center Alex Kupper had a couple rough snaps, which did him no favors. But at the end of the day, the ball was in Manuel’s hands and he didn’t do much with it.
But then again …
No big deal, that’s just Manuel connecting with Deonte Thompson for a 51-yard touchdown two drives removed from imminent disaster. Manuel isn’t out of this thing yet.
Hey guys it’s the preseason
It’s easy to overlook the fact that kickers have a tough job in the NFL; even from short distances nothing is guaranteed. Still, a kicker is reasonably expected to convert on all the extra point attempts he tries because, well … there’s a reason it’s called an extra point. About that:
That’s Titans kicker Ryan Succop completely shanking the kick and missing an extra point on Friday. This is Succop’s second season with the Titans after five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He converted 86.4 percent of his field goals last season, and made all 27 of his extra point attempts, so there’s not really cause for concern. These things just happen in the preseason.
The Roethlisberger-Bryant connection is kind of awesome
Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play much on Friday, but he made short work of the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ starting defense (or at least the starters who did play). He attempted just three passes on Friday, connecting with all three of them for 59 yards and a touchdown.
That included a 44-yard touchdown to wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who has been hyped up a whole lot this offseason, particularly in training camp. Antonio Brown is still with the Steelers, and he’ll obviously be the team’s No. 1 receiver next season, but Bryant will have plenty of opportunities to make a name for himself this season. He’ll get a lot more of them if he keeps doing things like that.
- New York Giants rookie safety Landon Collins left the game with a knee injury and received X-rays in the locker room. Fortunately for Collins, the X-rays were negative, but he did not return to the game.
- Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas went to the locker room after taking a hard hit. He was diagnosed with a fractured finger, but the Jaguars hope it will “affect him minimally,” according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Head coach Gus Bradley called is a “stable fracture,” and said he’ll likely miss the rest of the preseason, but should be fine for the regular season, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News.
- Steelers running back Josh Harris suffered a left foot injury and left Friday’s game against the Jaguars. It’s unclear how serious the injury is, but given Le’Veon Bell’s suspension and DeAngelo Williams’ injury history, any issues at the running back position is a big red flag for Pittsburgh.
- The Giants safety position took yet another hit following the Collins injury. Mykkele Thompson was carted off the field with an injury to his right leg. The Giants later announced he had an Achilles injury and that he would not return to the game.
Atlanta Falcons 31, Tennessee Titans 24
The Falcons have to be pleased with their starters — Matt Ryan and Julio Jones made things look easy on the opening drive. Ryan led the Falcons 91 yards on 10 plays, ending with a 13-yard touchdown to Jones. Ryan completed all six pass attempts on that drive — four of them to Jones, who finished that drive with 61 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. We already talked about Mariota and his performance with the Titans. Overall he had some bumps in the road, but he threw well on the day.
Carolina Panthers 25, Buffalo Bills 24
Cam Newton completed 5 of 10 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown, which was a good sign for the Panthers. He also hit Ted Ginn Jr. for a 38-yard reception, which is big as the Panthers are looking for him to stretch the field this season. Kelvin Benjamin had three receptions for 36 yards. The biggest thing for the Bills was the aforementioned quarterback battle, which seemingly went well all things considered. Matt Simms nearly led a comeback drive in the closing seconds for Buffalo, but he was intercepted.
Cincinnati Bengals 23, New York Giants 10
The big story for the Giants is, unfortunately, the injuries sustained at the safety position. They were already thin at the position going into Friday’s games, and to lose two of them to injury is terrible. Fortunately for them, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. managed to play a couple snaps and didn’t seem to aggravate his hamstring injury. For the Bengals, starter Andy Dalton looked good with 3 of 3 completions for 31 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Greg Little caught three passes for 65 yards.
Jacksonville Jaguars 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 21
Blake Bortles can still go either way for the Jaguars, so it’s good to see he had a solid game on Friday. Bortles completed 11 of 15 passes for 118 yards . Backup Chad Henne was solid as well, completing 9 of 10 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. For Pittsburgh, the starting offense looked great and DeAngelo Williams didn’t explode into pieces of glass and dust, so that’s nice as well! Both teams’ starters looked on point for the brief time they were all in.
Oakland Raiders 18, St. Louis Rams 3
Oakland wants to see quarterback Derek Carr take the next step this season, but he had a shaky start against the Rams. Carr completed 6-of-9 passes for 43 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He did lead them on a drive that ended in a field goal, but the interception came well in the red zone, when the Raiders had a 2nd-and-goal from the 6-yard line. Rams quarterback Nick Foles took his first real snaps from the team since they traded for him (and after a contract extension) and finished the night with 3-of-5 completions for 69 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
Denver Broncos 22, Seattle Seahawks 20
Well, other than Pete Carroll getting run over by a referee, the Seahawks were probably happy to escape with their starters intact, especially given the shaky play of the offensive line. Starting quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked twice and attempted just one pass, and Von Miller was relatively unblocked for the entirety of the time he was in the game. Peyton Manning sat for the Broncos, and Brock Osweiler had a solid game starting in his place.
This article was written by James Brady from SB Nation SB Nation National Feed and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.