Saints TE Graham’s personal protest sparks a night full of laundry

Jimmy Graham made a statement Friday night by dunking the ball over the goal posts twice.

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Saints tight end Jimmy Graham punctuated both of his touchdown catches in Friday night’s preseason win over the Titans with his patented dunk over the goal post. Both celebrations drew 15-yard unsportsmanlike flag penalties from the officials.

In a new rule change, Graham’s touchdown trademark has been ruled illegal.

“Using the ball, pylon, crossbar, goal post or any other object as a prop as part of a demonstration is also unsportsmanlike conduct,” vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said in an 11-minute video, referencing the new rule changes and points of emphasis.

Graham’s personal protest drew applause on social media as football fields spanning from the Pacific Northwest to Foxborough were littered with laundry.

An egregious 86 penalties were called for 702 yards in a four-game slate on Friday night. While the league continues to make a push on stressing their points of emphasis, coaches, players and fans have been subjected to stop-and-go action this preseason.

The league has set a precedent with the points of emphasis as they hope to increase the competitive balance and protect players from unnecessary risk of injuries.

The points of emphasis are as follows: illegal use of hands to the face, defensive holding, illegal contact and offensive pass interference.

“If you can’t play within the rules, you can’t play in this league,” Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said, via the team’s transcript. “That’s just the bottom line. You’re just handing people first downs. We better figure it out, and as I said earlier, whichever team ends up being the most disciplined team from that standpoint is going to have a big advantage in this league. It’s a challenge to everybody.”

No play electrified CenturyLink Field more than Seahawks cornerback Tharold Simon’s 105-yard interception return for a touchdown. But an official made a hyper-sensitive ruling, flagging Simon for illegal contact.

A zero-tolerance policy on verbal abuse was also on display in New England. After wide receiver Julian Edelman had his catch ruled incomplete, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gave a verbal lashing to the official. The heated discussion resulted in a 15-yard penalty.

While the NFL will review all of its rulings before the Week 1, it’s safe to say the pass-happy league could be bogged down by the officials. With that said, let’s not waste any more time on flag football.

Raiders QB Carr concussed; McGloin wins game

Trailing by 6 with a little over six minutes remaining in the game, Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin entered while trainers ushered rookie Derek Carr into the locker room.

Carr reportedly “heard a crunch” near his midsection after being driven to the ground by a Lions defender. He was later ruled to have sustained a concussion, head coach Dennis Allen said.

McGloin, though, piloted a 13-play, 68-yard drive, which was capped by a 19-yard strike to Brice Butler for the touchdown and Raiders win.

The champs are here

While the Seahawks’ official homecoming is slated for early September, the 12th man got its first in-person look at the defending champs in a 41-14 win against the Chargers. And they didn’t disappoint.

Coming off a 21-16 loss in a Super Bowl rematch against the Broncos last week, the Seahawks seemed eager to unleash their speed and establish dominance at the line of scrimmage.

From the very beginning quarterback Russell Wilson was more than efficient. The third-year quarterback didn’t throw an incompletion until a little under six minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Wilson, by way of a formidable running game, piloted four scoring drives, compiling 17 first downs all in the first half. Wilson completed 11 of 13 passes for 121 yards and racked up two scores on the ground on four carries for 31 yards. Even wide receiver Percy Harvin, who played in only three games last season, was a factor, hauling in three receptions for 24 yards.

The running game, though, did its work against a leaky Chargers’ defense, which was exposed against Dallas last week.

Although Marshawn Lynch suited up and made his preseason debut, it was all Robert Turbin and Christine Michael.

In the second quarter, Turbin hit a cutback lane sealed by right tackle Justin Britt and exploded for a 47-yard run up the sideline. Turbin, nicknamed Turbo, didn’t go down easy, either, delivering a violent stiff arm on Chargers safety Marcus Gilchrist. Finishing with 81 yards on 12 carries, Turbin was complemented by Michael, who averaged 7.6 yards a carry.

While Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers played just one series, Seattle’s defense suffocated San Diego’s no-huddle attack. Defenders such as cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Brock Coyle swarmed to the ball and short-circuited Rivers’ drive.

Whisenhunt’s fingerprints on Locker

Monsoon-like conditions didn’t allow Jake Locker a steady playing surface last week in his first appearance since rehabbing a Lisfranc injury. On New Orleans’ fast turf Friday, the fourth-year quarterback showed off a quick release in three series of work in a 31-24 loss against the Saints. Locker led a seven-play, 62-yard scoring drive, completing short passes to wide receiver Kendall Wright and running backs Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster. Locker, then, capped the drive with a 4-yard jump ball to wide receiver Justin Hunter. Finishing 8 of 10 for 75 yards and a touchdown, rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger filled in admirably. It’s clear head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s experience with quarterbacks has already paid off. Calling plays that fit Locker’s skillset, the young passer can settle down and let his athleticism and decision making take over.

Brady’s preseason debut

Tom Brady’s preseason debut included two series. One resulted in an Eagles cornerback Cary Williams’ Pick-6. The other in a touchdown-scoring, back-shoulder pass to wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins. It was a thing of beauty. The veteran quarterback finished the night completing 8 of 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. Behind Brady, rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo worked his magic. The Eastern Illinois product, appearing poised and confident, piggybacked his stellar NFL debut by leading two scoring drives.

Saints’ safeties are no joke

Two concussions and a broken ankle haven’t prevented Kenny Vaccaro from playing with the same aggressive nature that cut his rookie season short. Vaccaro filled the box score against the Titans, racking up a sack, two forced fumbles and four tackles. The second-year player set the tempo for rookie safety Vinnie Sunseri, who was active late in the game.