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Takeaways from Friday's NFL games: Tom Brady's back

  • By Gregg Rosenthal and Dan Hanzus
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The second week of the preseason is when quarterback battles are supposed to be decided. Michael Vick made his statement Thursday night. EJ Manuel all but ended the Buffalo Bills' battle Friday.

Manuel looked composed and accurate running the Bills' hurry-up offense for a second consecutive week, completing 10 of 12 passes. More importantly, Kevin Kolb did not look ready to change any minds on the Bills' coaching staff.

Kolb has missed time in training camp and needed a big performance to make up ground on Manuel. Instead, Kolb showed off some of the traits that sunk him on the Arizona Cardinals. He didn't make quick decisions or look comfortable in the pocket.

Manuel will have a hard time living up to last year's rookie class, but his performance leaves coach Doug Marrone no other choice.

Here's what else we learned Friday:

Buffalo Bills 20, Minnesota Vikings 16


1. Both Vikings quarterbacks continue to struggle. Christian Ponder made a few nice plays buying time in the pocket, but he also felt pressure when it wasn't there. The Vikings started the game with three consecutive three-and-outs. Ponder is 6-of-14 passing for just 68 yards with one interception in the preseason. Matt Cassel has not played any better.

2. Perhaps this is just what the Vikings look like without Adrian Peterson. He was a healthy scratch for the game.

3. Jerry Hughes started in place of Mario Williams and immediately made an impact, beating Matt Kalil for a sack of Ponder on the first snap of the game. Hughes added another sack later. The Bills need some of their secondary pass rushers to step up. Marcell Dareus and the entire Bills' defensive line had a dominant night.

4. Bills rookie wide receiver Robert Woods is niftier with the ball in his hands than I expected. He had a big punt return and a 22-yard catch. You normally don't see starting receivers return punts, but Woods is a versatile player.

New England Patriots 25, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21


1. You never would have known that Tom Brady hurt his knee two days ago. He looked razor sharp for the second consecutive week. Danny Amendola had five catches with Brady in the game in just two drives. Rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld continues to be a factor. It's a little scary how well the Patriots' offense has played in the preseason.

2. Running back LeGarrette Blount is going to make the Patriots. He's playing with the first team and even catching passes. He's passed every test.

3. Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman barely got to play. Mike Glennon, meanwhile, showed off his big arm and impressive ability to stand in the pocket against the pass rush. (Glennon also showed off some inaccuracy.)

4. Bucs running back Doug Martin left the game after taking a knee to the helmet, but after the game, he clarified that he didn't suffer a concussion.

5. Tim Tebow threw for negative yardage as the Patriots' No. 3 quarterback. At this point, even mentioning him feels like piling on. We were confident Tebow would make the team before the preseason, but now we're starting to wonder.

New Orleans Saints 28, Oakland Raiders 20


1. Forget about the final score. The Saints jumped to a 23-0 lead by the second quarter, dominating the Raiders in every facet. Matt Flynn never had a chance, getting buried for five sacks in the first half. Flynn somewhat salvaged his day with a nice touchdown drive to end the second quarter.

2. It's safe to say Drew Brees is ready. The Saints quarterback was on pace for a 588-yard passing day at the end of the first quarter. He finished 14-of-18 passing with 202 yards and one touchdown in five series.

3. Terrelle Pryor doesn't look like a real option for the Raiders. He completed one pass and found little success running the read option over three series. Pryor also struggled in the face of pressure, nearly throwing an ugly interception following a bad snap, then getting called for intentional grounding two plays later.

4. Steve Breaston could find himself the odd man out in the Saints' wide receiver mix. Kenny Stills (four catches, 64 yards, TD) and Nick Toon (56-yard reception) both outplayed the veteran.

5. Not a great NOLA homecoming for Tracy Porter. The Raiders' starting right corner and Saints' Super Bowl XLIII hero was helped off the field in the second quarter after suffering a groin injury.

San Francisco 49ers 15, Kansas City Chiefs 13


1. Alex Smith didn't do much damage against his former team. The Chiefs quarterback played the entire first half, managing just 62 yards on 16 passing attempts.

2. Only one series for Colin Kaepernick. In fact, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh trotted out three quarterbacks in the first three series. Kaepernick has played just two series in two games, but he'll likely get a much longer look next week.

3. You can call off the Jon Baldwin search party. We found him in Kansas City. Baldwin was targeted three times, but he failed to make a catch. Baldwin also had an egregious drop on a Smith pass that hit him directly between the numbers. The former first-round draft pick is looking at real estate in Bustville.

4. Quintin Demps had the most electrifying play of the night, a 104-yard kickoff return for a Chiefs touchdown in the first quarter. That's a good way to lock down a roster spot.

5. Speaking of potential first-round busts, A.J. Jenkins was held without a catch for the 49ers. He did have a 21-yard reception wiped out by a penalty. The powers that be in San Francisco will keep that in mind.

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