Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles followed up his three preseason performances with a strong outing in Thursday night’s 24-14 loss against the Falcons.
The rookie played just short of two full quarters, with the highlight coming on a 57-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marqise Lee. A pump fake froze a Falcons defender and Bortles dropped in a perfectly placed pass.
"It was a good play," Bortles told reporters after the game. "I had him on a seam and threw a little later than I wanted to, but he did a good job staying alive and running down the field to make a play."
Bortles, who notably got the start, took some time to find his rhythm after nearly throwing an interception in the first quarter. He completed 4-of-6 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Despite the Jaguars announcing quarterback Chad Henne will start Week 1 against the Eagles, Bortles has had the steadier preseason, completing 32 of 51 passes for 521 yards and two touchdowns. Henne, among other notable names, didn’t appear in action.
The future is certainly bright for Jacksonville’s air attack. It’s only a matter of time before the No. 3 overall pick gets his opportunity.
With all 32 teams in action on Thursday night, there was certainly a lot to keep track of. Here’s a nugget or two from each preseason finale:
Michael Sam’s six tackles led the team. The Rams rookie defensive end was all over the field in his last-ditch effort to make the roster. Sam’s competition, Ethan Westbrooks, also had a nice showing, hurrying the quarterback frequently, including a sack. Aside from Sam, quarterback Austin Davis appeared ready to assume the backup duties at quarterback with Sam Bradford sustaining a season-ending injury last week. Davis, who completed 12 of 19 for 162 yards a touchdown, understands Brian Schottenheimer’s offense, but they could opt to find a more sustainable option on the open market.
Matt Schaub’s elbow tendonitis allowed quarterback Derek Carr to make his first start this preseason. It surely won’t be his last. Carr, who finished 11 of 13 for 143 yards and three touchdowns, moved the offense with ease and had terrific ball placement. While the Fresno State product missed last week’s game with sore ribs, he made work of Seattle’s first-team defense. While the severity of Schaub’s injury is unknown, Carr displayed enough command of the offense to be a viable option next week against the Jets.
A season after Aaron Rodgers missed seven games with a broken collarbone, Green Bay has put a strong emphasis on backup quarterback play. Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien went tit for tat against the Chiefs. While the duo split reps each quarter, Flynn finished with 102 yards for two touchdowns and Tolzien completed 12 of 18 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. It didn’t help that the Chiefs defense struggled to find its footing.
Buffalo’s offense hasn’t been exactly firing on all cylinders this preseason. After a woeful outing last week, the Bills’ first-team offense failed to put up any points against the Lions. To make matters worse, rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins had an early exit with a rib injury.
What’s life like without Andrew Luck? For the Colts, it’s not very promising. Chandler Harnish piloted his best drive of the evening after the Bengals had already hung 28 points on the board. Cincinnati was fueled by the running game of rookie Jeremy Hill, who finished for 90 yards on 20 carries. The Bengals haven’t been shy about letting the rookie get some work in this preseason.
Michael Vick’s playing time in front of Philly fans was short-lived. After one snap, the polarizing quarterback’s night was over. The Eagles faithful was treated to a heavy heaping of Matt Barkley. Barkley, whose rookie season was plagued by turnovers, threw an interception in the end zone on one drive. However, Barkley’s performance was mostly solid, as he orchestrated a 15-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the second half.
Fueled by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, newly acquired tight end Tim Wright hauled in his first pass with the Patriots. Wright, who was a part of a one-for-one trade in exchange for Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins, is a good athlete and very versatile, lining up in multiple places. For Garoppolo, it was his most uneven performance of the preseason, as he threw an interception early. Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib appears to be locked in as Eli Manning’s backup. Nassib threw good balls and has command of Ben McAdoo’s offense.
Sidelined with a hairline fracture in his rib, Cam Newton was a no-show on Thursday. That didn’t mean Panthers quarterbacks were exempt from injuries, though. Derek Anderson left in the second quarter, holding his right hand. While Anderson’s X-rays were negative, the team certainly doesn’t want to think about going into the opener with third-string quarterback Joe Webb.
Redskins rookie running back Lache Seastrunk might not be the most well-rounded player at his position. You can’t deny his speed, though. Entrenched in a training camp battle with Silas Redd, Seastrunk displayed his elusiveness, speed and acceleration on an 80-yard screen pass for a touchdown. Redd, who finished with 79 yards on 14 carries, had a nice outing himself. This was quarterback Colt McCoy’s night, though. McCoy, appearing in rare UT form, completed 22 of 29 passes for 321 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
As Adrian Peterson-to-Cowboys trade rumors ran their course, Vikings second-year running back Joe Banyard ran wild on the Titans defense. Banyard, who had 18 carries for 111 yards, showed terrific burst and vision. He did, however, drop a touchdown pass via quarterback Christian Ponder. While Teddy Bridgewater got a taste of playing time, it was Ponder who played a majority of the game. In what could be Ponder’s audition for other teams, he was efficient and accurate. Kicker Blair Walsh was the Vikings’ most explosive playmaker, connecting on four field goals from distances of 45, 35, 30 and 22. Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger had good timing with his receivers, completing 12 of 17 passes for 154 yards.
Finally, the 49ers got the progress on offense they were looking for. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Colin Kaepernick doing damage. Following up Blaine Gabbert’s 4-of-11, 60-yard outing, Josh Johnson appeared to be the more explosive option at quarterback as he threw for 3 touchdowns.
The Ravens’ two-headed monster of Lorenzo Taliaferro and Fitzgerald Toussaint combined for 191 yards on the ground on 42 carries. Baltimore’s backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor led four scoring drives, including one that ended with an eight-yard strike to wide receiver Deonte Thompson. Scoring in his third straight game, Thompson has become a viable option in the slot. The loss prevented New Orleans from finishing its preseason undefeated.
While Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill was busy breaking Johnny Manziel’s single-game passing record, the Browns rookie quarterback was in spot duty behind Brian Hoyer. Hoyer and the Browns’ first-team offense were sharp in one series of play. Manziel’s accuracy, though, was inconsistent, as he completed 6 of 17 passes for 83 yards and an interception. He did, however, flash his dual-threat capability, turning four carries into 55 yards. It certainly raises the question: Will a package designed around Manziel’s unique skillset be unveiled in Week 1 against the Steelers? “Falls into the category of Johnny being Johnny,” head coach Mike Pettine said, via the team’s transcript. “A couple of those plays were no, no, no, yes — but that’s what he does. That, to me, is what he brings to the table.”
The Cowboys finish the preseason without a win. This time it was at the hands of Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler. While the third-year quarterback engineered four scoring drives, Denver’s defense stole the show allowing just 165 yards of offense. Broncos rookie linebacker Shaquil Barrett racked up two sacks and four tackles in a dismantling of the Cowboys’ first-team offense. With starters sidelined, it was clear from the beginning Dallas’ focus is set on next week’s matchup against the 49ers.
Both head coaches relied on vanilla schemes as the two teams are scheduled to play in 10 days. Cardinals rookie quarterback Logan Thomas had a pedestrian performance, averaging just 3.5 yards a completion. Thomas, who was celebrated as one of the best draft-day steals, has since shown a need for seasoning. Completing 9 of 21 passes for 73 yards and an interception, Thomas also lost a possession on a fumble.