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What we learned: 19 takeaways from Friday's games

It is fun to have football back and we can even learn a few things from these games. Let's be real, though: The primary objective of any preseason game is to avoid serious injury.

The Oakland Raiders' starters and backups mostly looked great Friday night, but that matters little if defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. suffered a serious injury. Edwards Jr., a terrific rookie starter last year, was carted off the field with a hip injury and was spotted leaving the locker room on crutches.

As we wait for more news on that injury, here's what else we learned during Friday's five games:

  1. Browns coach Hue Jackson made a statement by calling a vertical shot from Robert Griffin III to Terrelle Pryor on Cleveland's first offensive snap. The two reclamation projects responded by connecting on a pretty 49-yard gain.

Things got uglier after that for Griffin, who fumbled a handoff on the next snap and threw an interception later that drive. He was hit three times and pressured another on only eight drop backs. Josh McCown did little in relief of Griffin, but this is why Jackson named RGIII the starting quarterback so quickly. He doesn't want every shaky play to inspire a new round of questioning.

  1. Pryor's transition to wide receiver is going better than anyone could reasonably expect. He finished with 57 yards on two grabs and looks nearly certain to be starting Week 1 along with Browns rookie Corey Coleman, if they can stay healthy. Pryor told reporters after the game he underwent X-rays on his left hand that were negative and said he feels fine.
  1. Cameron Erving, Cleveland's 2015 first-round pick, appeared to be responsible for a few of those hits on Griffin. Erving struggled at guard last season and the move to center was intended to settle his career down.
  1. Packers coach Mike McCarthy made sure to get Eddie Lacy involved heavily right off the bat, giving him four carries in the team's first drive. Lacy inspired visions of 2014, breaking tackles and gaining territory after contact for 24 yards.
  1. The Giants gave their fans a scare by announcing mid-game injuries for their top two draft picks: cornerback Eli Apple (leg strain) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who injured his groin. Coach Ben McAdoo indicated after the game, however, that both injuries were not serious.

Shepard built on his non-stop camp buzz by repeatedly beating cornerbacks off the line of scrimmage and hauling in a difficult 24-yard catch. Apple was also active in the slot and on special teams.

  1. The Dolphins' offense had one first down in eight series during a team scrimmage last weekend. Against the Giants, Miami didn't have a first down in the first four drives of the game. Ryan Tannehill was hit almost every time he dropped back to pass. Former Dolphin Olivier Vernon was very active in his brief time on the field getting after his former teammates.
  1. The night's biggest standout for Miami was rookie Jakeem Grant, a sixth-round pick who was electric, racking up 113 return yards and 68 receiving yards. He has a chance to be a fun role player and could add to their deep receiver group.
  1. The Giants' biggest standout was second-year defensive end Owa Odighizuwa, a third-round pick from a year ago. Football Outsiders [named him the No. 5 prospect](http://www.giants.com/news-and-blogs/article-1/ESPN-names-Owa-Odighizuwa-a-breakout-prospect/32330952-f97d-4f52-a5e7-3fb2a3d8f480Owa Odighizuwa) in football, a list highlighting players under 25 years old not drafted in the top two rounds. Odighizuwa was active all night with three QB hits, two sacks and two tackles for loss. He could be a scary third pass rusher behind Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul.

--Gregg Rosenthal

  1. The Lions have invested three first-round picks in the their offensive line over the past five years. The latest, rookie left tackle Taylor Decker, had a rough sequence in the opening series, negating a first-down scramble with a holding penalty and blowing a block that led to a James Harrison strip sack on Matthew Stafford. The offensive line will be something to monitor over the next two weeks after sabotaging the offense last season. Stafford was under serious heat from the Steelers throughout the opening drive.
  1. With Ameer Abdullah (shoulder surgery) sitting out, Theo Riddick got the start at running back for Detroit. The key takeaway, though, is that 2015 preseason rushing leader Zach Zenner seems to have a clear lead on Stevan Ridley for the power-back complement to Abdullah. Ridley played behind Zenner and special teamer George Winn.
  1. For all of the buzz directed at Sammie Coates this summer, the second-year wideout struggled versus the Lions. Coates fumbled twice while aspiring slot receiver Eli Rogers was heavily involved on the opening drive. Darrius Heyward-Bey made up for a drop of his own with a spectacular 29-yard touchdown grab. The three are battling for snaps behind Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton.
  1. Former Rams running back Daryl Richardson is still in the NFL! Richardson gave the Steelers' offense a spark, leading the team with 44 rushing yards on 11 carries. He's battling playoff goat Fitzgerald Toussaint for the early-season backup role behind DeAngelo Williams with Le'Veon Bell facing a four-game suspension.
  1. Bengals running back Jeremy Hill looked quicker and more decisive on three carries before exiting with an apparent hand injury. Hill put his helmet back on after trainers examined his left index finger, but never re-entered the game. He tweeted after the game his hand was "A-OK."
  1. Second-round Bengals rookie Tyler Boyd burned Jabari Price for a 40-yard, over-the-shoulder catch on a go route. He saw time with the first-team offense while Vikings first-rounder Laquon Treadwell was limited to snaps with backup quarterback Shaun Hill. Treadwell remains behind Charles Johnson, who hauled in a 49-yard touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater.
  1. Fortune favors the bold. Remember that when freakishly talentedCardinals lead back David Johnson is sitting there waiting for you early in the first round of your fantasy draft. No risk it, no biscuit.
  1. The day after the Cardinals drafted converted running back Brandon Williams to start opposite Patrick Peterson at cornerback, coach Bruce Arians was asked if he would add veteran insurance at the position. "I don't see us needing one," Arians replied.

The breakout camp star discovered the difference between practice and live action Friday night, as Derek Carr attacked him on his first three throws. Williams allowed a 16-yard catch to Michael Crabtree, was burned on a double move by Amari Cooper and then played catch-up to Cooper on a slightly overthrown sideline pass. Williams went on to whiff on a tackle attempt of Cooper near the line of scrimmage and surrendered a 10-yard touchdown to Andre Holmes. As quarterbacks steer clear of Peterson, Williams should expect to be the most targeted cornerback in the league as a rookie.

  1. Ten months after tearing his ACL at West Virginia, first-round strong safety Karl Joseph started the Raiders' preseason opener.

--Chris Wesseling

  1. It's shameful that Wesseling didn't mention former Preseason MVPMatt McGloin's two touchdown effort above. He now has 10 TDs and two interceptions in the last three preseasons. You aren't taking his backup job away no matter who you draft, Raiders!

-- Gregg Rosenthal, again

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