NFL.com breaks down what you need to know from Week 3 of the 2022 NFL preseason. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:
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Coral Smith's takeaways:
- Mayfield looking good as starter. A few days after Carolina officially gave him the starting job, Baker Mayfield looked every bit the starter who the Panthers were hoping for in the win over the Bills. Mayfield led two touchdown drives and looked comfortable throughout, showing poise in the pocket and making plays when they were needed to keep the drives going. Mayfield first led the Panthers on a 12-play, 53-yard drive down the field, finishing it off by converting on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line, rolling out and finding running back D'Onta Foreman for the score. Later in the half, Mayfield engineered a quick, three-play scoring drive off an interception by the defense, capped off by a 19-yard TD pass to Shi Smith. Mayfield left the game with under two minutes left in the first half, ending his night 9-of-15 for 89 passing yards and two touchdowns. In his first start as the Panthers' QB1, Mayfield looked capable of handling the Carolina offense and ready to officially take the reins in Week 1.
- Bills silent on offense. It's only preseason, so evaluations of teams playing without their starters can only go so far. But nevertheless, the fact that the Bills could not muster a single point in Friday's contest was disconcerting, and a far cry from the performance they put on last week. After scoring 42 points and amassing 510 net yards versus Denver while barely playing their starters, the Bills had only 191 total yards this week versus the Panthers. Quarterbacks Case Keenum and Matt Barkley could not lead the team into the end zone despite Buffalo getting deep into Carolina territory twice. On both occasions, the Bills decided to go for it on fourth down and failed, turning it over on downs at the 8- and 5-yard lines. The presence of the starters was clearly missed, and while one bad performance isn't necessarily a cause for concern, it was still a surprising sight coming from the Bills.
Grant Gordon's takeaways:
- Winston's cameo just what QB needed. Jameis Winston was anxious to finally get back out on the field after his comeback from an ACL tear last season was tripped up by a foot injury this summer. Though it was for just one preseason drive, Winston looked splendid on Friday night as he marched the Saints to six and was perfect passing in doing so. Winston's first throw in live action since Week 8 of 2021 was a 20-yard completion to one of his newest teammates, Jarvis Landry. Winston found Landry again on a bullet, connected with rookie first-rounder Chris Olave for the first time and then hooked up with Alvin Kamara to conclude a 4-of-4 night in which he had 59 yards and a 118.8 rating. Winston took a solid hit and got up seemingly with no ill effects. He was cool, poised and accurate in captaining the scoring drive. This was precisely what Winston and the Saints needed to build a little confidence and shake off a little rust before kicking off the season.
- Keep an eye out for Christiansen. The third week of the preseason is most often about players on the bubble battling for roster spots or looking to move up on the depth chart. Perhaps linebacker Cole Christiansen did both. Having played seven games over the past two seasons for the Bolts, Christiansen, who had just one tackle over the previous two preseason tilts, got plenty of reps Friday and put up quite a nice statline. Christiansen racked up a game-high nine tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and with nary a Chargers starter to be found on the field, left a good lasting impression this preseason.
- Patriots' offensive woes continue. Unfortunately, it appeared to be more of the same struggles for the Patriots offense this week, another game that showed just how much they've been struggling to move the ball. Mac Jones played four series, and was only able to put points on the board in the final one -- with a field goal -- at which point the Raiders defense had largely subbed in the backups. Before that, there was little forward progress to speak of, as two possessions ended in a punt, and another with an easy interception by Raiders linebacker Luke Masterson. Jones was sacked twice and the offense had only 74 total yards when he left the game. And probably most damaging was that twice it appeared the Patriots had scored a touchdown, only for both to get called back because of penalties. Preseason is great for teams learning a new system, like the Patriots are, but unfortunately that time is quickly running out. With the start of the regular season just a couple weeks away, it's looking more and more concerning that New England hasn't been able to put it all together.
- New DE completes strong preseason. Tashawn Bower had two sacks in his NFL career before this season, but Friday night, the defensive end equaled that total in the culmination of his outstanding preseason. Bower sacked Jones in the second quarter for a six-yard loss, and did it again later in the quarter when he hit quarterback Brian Hoyer in the arm during his passing motion for a strip-sack, though the Raiders could not recover. Bower also had five tackles, one for a loss, and a recovered fumble for Las Vegas. Bower had a total of five sacks this preseason, an impressive showing from a player who has spent most of four years in the league on practice squads. But since the Raiders signed him in April, he's moved up the depth chart, and is listed as one of the third-string defensive ends on their unofficial chart. Will his defensive numbers this preseason be enough to keep him on the 53-man roster when final cuts are made next week?
- Cowboys' D looks to be in 2021 form. In his first season as Cowboys defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn turned around a horrendous Dallas unit. By season's end, the Cowboys led the league in takeaways. And while the starters were on the bench, Quinn's ball-hawking bunch was still at it on Friday. The Cowboys piled up an eye-popping five takeaways, with Markquese Bell, Nahshon Wright, Israel Mukuamu and Juanyeh Thomas tallying interceptions. The turnovers were crucial to the Cowboys riding into the regular season with a one-point preseason victory. It doesn't matter in the record books, but it was further evidence that Quinn and his scheme are the right fit for putting the D back in Dallas.
- Have no fear, DeeJay is here. Chris Carson has retired. Rashaad Penny recently tested positive for COVID-19. And rookie Kenneth Walker III is recovering from hernia surgery. But hey, DeeJay Dallas is still here and he showed on Friday he's a dependable option for the Seahawks. Dallas turned in a full game's worth of work, tallying 13 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown. Heading into his third season with the club, Dallas has flashed promise before and did so once again on Friday night. Pete Carroll wants to run the ball and right now the depth chart looks a little slim due to illness and injury, but Dallas could be one to watch going forward -- even when the backfield is at full strength.
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