Bradford, Romo make preseason debuts following months of rehab

A surgically-repaired knee and a herniated disk were the talk all offseason. Now these two franchise quarterbacks got to let their play do the talking.

Sam Bradford, Tony Romo both got their first taste of 2014 preseason action.

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Three quarterbacks made their preseason debuts on Saturday. Two of those players were returning from season-ending injuries that they sustained a year ago.

While Sam Bradford (ACL) and Tony Romo (herniated disk) exited their contests unscathed, both performances were good building blocks for next week’s preseason dress rehearsals.

Sporting a clunky left knee brace, Bradford had a sharp debut.

Playing behind a formidable offensive line, which is still missing tackle Jake Long, Bradford appeared poised and made confident throws, finishing 9 of 12 for 101 yards and a touchdown. Overall, it was an encouraging sight for Rams brass.

While Romo completed training camp without having practiced three consecutive days, the Cowboys passer gave his club a big reason for optimism.

Romo, who took a total of 16 snaps in two series, showed plenty of zip on three of his deep balls.

Lining up out of the shotgun in the first series, Romo stepped up and completed an instinctive pass to wide receiver Dez Bryant for 22 yards. The drive, though, was short-circuited by a botched snap between Romo and running back DeMarco Murray, which Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw scooped and scored.

On the next series, Romo was able to elude pressure while rolling left and threw across the formation to tight end James Hanna. While Hanna dropped the pass, it was a good display of Romo’s mobility in the pocket.

With a steady dose of Murray, who finished with eight carries for 34 yards, the Cowboys were able to push it deep into Baltimore territory.

Ravens cornerback Dominique Franks challenged Bryant one-on-one, and Romo was able to quickly recognize the mismatch and fired a 31-yard pass, which was caught for a touchdown.

“It felt good,” Romo said, via the team’s Twitter account. “I thought it was great to get out there and help the football team and go through the checks and balances you have to do to get your team in a position to compete.”

After that, Romo’s night was over.

For Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it was business as usual. Second-year running back Eddie Lacy showed terrific burst on five carries for 25 yards and two receptions for 22 yards. Rodgers, running the no-huddle, completed short passes, which turned into big gains.

Leading two 12-play drives, which accounted for a little less than 11 minutes in time of possession, Rodgers didn’t miss a beat, connecting with wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin on command.

In all, Rodgers completed 11 of 13 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown.

It was a successful day for three franchise signal-callers getting their first taste of the new season.

From the trainer’s room

A growing list of bumps and bruises occurred on Saturday night. Here are a few of the notable injuries that occurred on Saturday:

*Rams running back Isaiah Pead fell awkwardly during a kick return on a non-contact injury. Head coach Jeff Fisher said it appears Pead went down with an ACL. Pead, who had surgery on a fractured finger in June, was fighting for an opportunity to return kicks and carries in the running game.

*Matt Ryan’s blindside protector, Sam Baker, was carted off the field in Houston with a right knee injury. Baker, who played only four games last season because of a knee injury, was emotional as he couldn’t put any weight on his leg. A move across the offensive line could be in store for rookie Jake Matthews.

*Bills rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins had an early exit and was escorted into the locker room after injuring his ribs. He never returned. Head coach Doug Marrone confirmed Watkins sustained a rib contusion. No other details on his condition were immediately available.

*A pair of shoulder injuries to Bengals running back Jeremy Hill and linebacker Vontaze Burfict cut their participation short against the Jets. While Burfict appeared in two more series after he was listed as questionable to return, the severity of Hill’s injury is unknown. Cornerback Darqueze Dennard sustained a hip injury in the first half, too.

*Ravens running back Ray Rice’s shoulder X-ray came back negative, the team announced. Cornerback Jimmy Smith also underwent an X-ray for a chest injury, but that came back negative, too, the team announced.

*Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara strained his groin, the team announced.

*Packers tight end Brandon Bostick has a lower leg injury, the team announced.

The Giants have a problem ...

Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is striving to make quarterback Eli Manning a more efficient passer. In doing so, it seems McAdoo has taken the air out of Manning’s passing game. In three preseason appearances, Manning hasn’t completed a pass over 10 yards. And Manning has still not completed a pass to Victor Cruz or Rueben Randle. While the goal is to complete 70 percent of Manning’s passes, Saturday night’s 1-for-7 effort against the Colts could be alarming.

… so do the Jets

Don’t be fooled by the glowing faces on the Jets’ sideline in their 25-17 win against the Bengals. While it was no secret the Jets’ crop of defensive backs was going to struggle against Cincinnati’s aerial attack, Andy Dalton carved them up with ease. Without cornerbacks Dee Milliner (high-ankle sprain), Dimitri Patterson (calf/ankle) and Dexter McDougle (ACL), the Jets secondary was torched in the first quarter as Dalton completed 8 of 8 for 144 yards and a touchdown. Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu had a step on cornerback Kyle Wilson on a post route, and Dalton threw a perfectly placed ball between two defenders for the 43-yard score. Later, Dalton timed a well-synced, 35-yard pass to A.J. Green, who had beaten safety Antonio Allen by three steps. With $20 million in cap space, the Jets could sign someone from the open market.

A race to Defensive Rookie of the Year?

Nothing will ever come close to “the hit,” but Jadeveon Clowney leveled Falcons running back Antone Smith on Saturday night. Clowney, whose coverage skills could use some work, says FOX Sports 1’s Coy Wire, put a move on an opposing lineman, sacking  Ryan. During his first two preseason games, Clowney has flashed superstar potential. Can he validate it when it matters most?

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau doesn’t traditionally start rookies in his unit, but linebacker Ryan Shazier is different. Shazier, who missed the Steelers’ preseason opener because of a bruised knee, was very active against the Bills and racked up a first-half stat line of six tackles, an interception and two special teams tackles. 

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