NFC Update: NFL Preseason Victories Overshadowed By Key Player Losses
By Christian S. Kohl
With two weeks of the preseason complete, everyone is antsy. Fans want real games, the league and its GM’s want to see no more major injuries to key talent. Here’s an update on which NFC teams took a step forward this week, and which ones overwhelmed the training staff with a rash of new injuries:
Chicago Bears: Chicago edged San Diego by a score of 33-28, as Brandon Marshall lead the way with 38 yards and a touchdown. Matt Forte was featured in the red zone offense, while Martellus Bennett failed to receive a target. The Bears will need all three of those weapons in premium form should Chicago make the next step this year.
Green Bay Packers: Green Bay saw good strides from two key players in their most recent preseason contest. Eddie Lacy registered 51 APY, while Jermichael Finley collected 78 yards off four receptions. Randall Cobb did not suit up for action, but is considered day-to-day with a biceps injury.
Detroit Lions: Detroit was flattened by Cleveland to the tune of 24-6. Calvin Johnson did not play, recovering after bruising his knee. He should be good to go next week. Reggie Bush impressed, registering 59 APY in just one half of play. The Lions also added TE Cameron Morah for some additional depth.
Minnesota Vikings: Minnesota fell to Buffalo 20-16. Jairus Wright also fell, enduring a concussion with no timetable set for his return. Ponder looked shaky in this second contest, registering 5-12 completions for only 53 yards. Adrian Peterson did not play, but these results indicate how badly the Vikings lack any options beside him.
New Orleans Saints: New Orleans took care of Oakland 28-20 on Friday, with Brees dominating. He tossed it for 202 yards on 14-18 passing. This says little given that it’s the Oakland pass rush, but a solid indicator that the Saints may be back on track. Jonathan Vilma had his knee scoped this week, and is expected to miss the entire preseason.
Atlanta Falcons: Roddy White suffered an ankle sprain, and is likely to miss the entire preseason. Steven Jackson, however, appeared promising in a first half effort resulting in an Atlanta loss. Tony Gonzalez is expected to return to practice soon after leaving the team for an arranged stint.
Carolina Panthers: Carolina lost a low-scoring contest with Philadelphia by a score of 14-9. David Gettis has made strides these past few weeks which place him in contention for Carolina’s WR3 spot. DeAngelo Williams, meanwhile, saw 12 carries for 39 yards as he assumes workhorse duties in Jonathan Stewart’s absence.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay fell to New England 25-21, with Doug Martin leaving the game due to a blow to the head. Martin reportedly did not suffer a concussion, and all of Tampa Bay can again resume breathing. Josh Freeman barely played in this contest, sustaining his career-long streak of leaving all fans with no definitive conclusions about his ability to play in the NFL, or lack thereof.
Dallas Cowboys: Dallas lost to Arizona this week, with injuries once again headlining the game. Alex Albright injured his back and will be out for the season, while Ronald Leary had surgery on his knee this Friday. Terrance Williams returned to action after suffering a concussion earlier this year.
Washington Redskins: Brian Orakpo injured his thigh this week, though it is considered a day-to-day nick. Roy Helu secured backup duties behind Alfred Morris, while Brandon Meriweather is still rehabbing an injured knee.
Philadelphia Eagles: Philly won over the Panthers by a score of 14-9. The victory cost Curtis Marsh an indefinite amount of time after he broke his hand. Nick Foles appears to be firmly securing the backup spot, as Vick is reportedly outplaying him day-in and day-out. The job is his to lose.
New York Giants: Victor Cruz injured himself against Indy this Sunday, bruising his heel and is considered day-to-day. Hakeem Nicks registered 40 yards in his initial preseason contest, while David Wilson racked up 55 APY. Jason Pierre-Paul has resumed running, and still hopes, however unlikely, to be available for week 1.
Arizona Cardinals: Arizona edged Dallas this week by a score of 12-7. Carson Palmer and Rashard Mendenhall impressed, while Daryl Washington’s appeal of a 4-game suspension was denied. Optimism is high on the defensive side as well, as Patrick Peterson is impressing teammates and coaches alike.
St. Louis Rams: St. Louis fell to Green Bay 19-7, but saw solid performances from its bigger performers. Jared Cook and Tavon Austin turned in good work, along with a 57-yard reception from Chris Givens. The Rams will need more 57-yard strikes to compete seriously this year.
Seattle Seahawks: Seattle waxed Denver to the tune of 40-10 in this week’s preseason contest. Russell Wilson was electric, throwing for 150 yards and two touchdowns. In less than enthusiastic news, there is still no clear answer on when Percy Harvin will return fully healthy for the Seahawks this year. They don’t expect definitive word on his long-term health prospects for another month.
San Francisco 49ers: The Niners first team scuffled a bit against Kansas City, but featured an impressive performance by Frank Gore. Meanwhile, Michael Crabtree isn’t expected to be back until late season. Mario Manningham was placed on PUP and will miss at least six weeks of the season.
That’s it for this week of NFC preseason action. Come back next week as the action continues to heat up. Week 1 is now just around the corner.
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Christian S. Kohl is a sports contributor for CBS Local Digital Media.