Around the NFL  

 

Lessons learned from Thursday night's games

Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm arrived in Arizona with the promise that they would solve the Arizona Cardinals' offensive line. Five years later, it might be the worst group in football.

John Skelton and Kevin Kolb took turns being sacked and throwing awful interceptions Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans. Kolb threw two ugly picks to "only" one for Skelton, but Kolb also made many more positive plays. There are no winners in this quarterback battle. The quarterbacks are hard to evaluate when they get no protection.

We'd guess that Skelton will be the choice, but does it even matter? The way that the Cardinals' offensive tackles are playing, whoever starts the season at quarterback in Arizona probably won't stay healthy for long.

Here's what else we learned Thursday night. Thanks to Around the League's Marc Sessler and Dan Hanzus for help with these notes.

Titans 32, Cardinals 27

» After this game, Titans coach Mike Munchak had to feel good about his decision to name Jake Locker the starting quarterback. Locker struggled with his usual accuracy issues, but his 11 completions went for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

» Locker and first-round pick Kendall Wright are going to improvise a lot of plays together this year. Wright finished with four catches for 44 yards and a score.

» Whisenhunt's usage pattern remains confusing. Skelton didn't get a ton of time with the first-team offense in this game. Neither quarterback has been able to get into a rhythm.

» It says a lot that Kolb's best performance by far this preseason included two gnarly interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Kolb did make a lot of plays otherwise, finishing 17-of-22 for 156 yards and a score.

» The more we watch Cardinals running back Ryan Williams, the more we're convinced he's going to be Arizona's best running back this year.

» The more we watch the Arizona offensive line, the worse we feel for Larry Fitzgerald.

Ravens 48, Jaguars 17

» The Ravens' preseason was for passing. Joe Flacco threw 36 passes in a little more than a half of play Thursday. He has now thrown 60 passes in a little more than one full game's worth of snaps in the preseason. Flacco was extremely sharp in this game.

» Ed Reed's backup, Ravens safety Emanuel Cook, will miss the rest of the season with a broken leg.

» Torrey Smith returned from a minor preseason injury to catch eight passes for 103 yards. The buzz in Baltimore all offseason is that Smith made huge strides toward becoming a complete receiver.

» Justin Blackmon is already Jacksonville's best wideout. The biggest surprise with him is that he's making big plays down the field. He's a load to take down after the catch. This is two straight very impressive outings for the former holdout.

» Blaine Gabbert avoided the big mistake, but only led the Jaguars to three points during his two and a half quarters of play.

» We've said it before, but Jaguars running back Rashad Jennings just looks like an NFL starter.

Packers 27, Bengals 13

» Cedric Benson's return to Cincinnati was a success. He's going to help this Packers team a great deal. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he liked using Benson and Alex Green in a rotation. Benson finished with 38 yards on six carries. Aaron Rodgers noted Benson made "something out of nothing" on a few plays.

» Not that we were worried, but Rodgers looked great moving the ball at will. Backup Graham Harrell improved slightly from last week's debacle. There is no way for the Packers to spin Harrell's struggles. They need to at least examine other quarterback options.

» Rookie wideout Marvin Jones keeps making fancy touchdown grabs, but continues to line up as a reserve. Brandon Tate is the favorite to start at wideout.

» The Bengals' offense had an up-and-down preseason. Andy Dalton couldn't buy a touchdown in this game, throwing for only 40 yards on 17 throws. They couldn't punch the ball in on first and goal from the 1-yard line in the second half.

» We're excited about the Bengals' defense, but the unit continues to battle injuries. Starting linebacker Manny Lawson left with a groin injury and didn't return.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15