Trevor Siemian took another step toward winning the starting job in Denver. Mitchell Trubiskydid his best to ignite a quarterback battle in Chicago. In Cleveland, confusion remains on top of the depth chart.
On the first heavy night of action this preseason with seven games, there was thankfully a scarcity of major injuries and plenty of opportunity for overreaction. Here are the stories that should stick, starting with all the quarterback intrigue:
- Siemian looked like a competent, unspectacular starter as usual for his three drives Thursday night, completing 6-of-7 passes for 51 yards. The Broncos quarterback's only incompletion came on a nice deep throw that Emmanuel Sanders couldn't come down with. While Siemian hardly lit up the scoreboard, he made quick, smart decisions with the ball.
Paxton Lynch, on the other hand, repeatedly held on to the ball too long and misfired on a few open throws. He was lucky to avoid a fumble on one scramble. His final stats didn't look that much different than Siemian, but he only led the Broncos to three first downs in four drives.
This uninspiring "Siemian wins by default" storyline mirrors the reports coming out of training camp. It was a dark enough night that reporters asked coach Vance Joseph if little-known third-stringer Kyle Sloter is a legitimate option to start. Lynch will need a big performance when he starts next week or Siemian figures to start getting all the starting reps in practice.
- Mitchell Trubisky was Thursday night's biggest winner. Sure, he was facing third-string Broncos defenders who were only playing man coverage. But a few of his pinpoint throws on the run and one third-and-17 conversion from the pocket with pressure in his face were impressive no matter the scenario.
The Bears didn't score a point, gaining only four first downs in six drives with Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez running the show. Glennon threw an ugly pick-six on his first drive, his lack of pocket presence notable when he threw a pass while getting hit. Trubisky, meanwhile, led the Bears on a two-minute touchdown drive in his first NFL action. He led the Bears to 17 points and 14 first downs on his first three drives before stalling some in the fourth quarter.
If nothing else, this result should inspire coach John Fox to eventually stop wasting second-team snaps on Sanchez. Glennon remains a strong bet to start Week 1, but every positive Trubisky performance will increase public pressure and eat into Glennon's regular season job security.
"Our depth chart is not going to change after one game, particularly a preseason game," John Fox said after the game in the most John Fox way possible.
- Thursday night started with Brock Osweiler getting his chance to grab the Browns' starting quarterback job. It ended with rookie DeShone Kizer completing a pair of Roethlisbergeriffic vertical throws to lead the Browns to a victory. Kizer showed great pocket movement and raw skills that Osweiler and Cody Kessler simply can't match. They were the type of "AFC North" plays Hue Jackson has spoken of wanting from his quarterback.
Osweiler finished with only 42 yards on 14 attempts after starting the game with three straight three and outs, chastising himself after the game for his lack of accuracy.
"I'm pretty sure that no ball has ever been completed that is thrown out of bounds," Osweiler said.
It would be shocking if Kizer doesn't get more time with the starters next week.
- Browns No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett looked the part early for the Browns, creating havoc in the running game.
- All that hype about Browns running back Duke Johnson becoming the team's slot receiver is being borne out. He might very well be listed as a wideout on the official team roster before this season is up.
- Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor sent a message early by throwing his first three passes to Sammy Watkins. They all went for completions. Watkins, finally looking healthy, caught four passes for 39 yards.
- The Vikings sent a similar declaration of intent by giving running back Dalvin Cook eight touches on the team's first 13 plays. Cook finished with 43 yards from scrimmage in limited work, showing some power and looking comfortable in the passing game as a receiver and pass protector.
- LeSean McCoy's primary backup Jonathan Williams showed great burst before leaving with a hamstring injury. It's a concerning setback for a Bills team already thin at running back.
- The Colin Kaepernick buzz in Baltimore isn't going to slow down after Ryan Mallett's night. He completed only 9-of-18 passes for 58 yards in one half of work.
- Vikings starting cornerback Trae Waynes left Thursday's game early with a shoulder injury, although coach Mike Zimmer didn't show much concern about it after the game.
- Dion Lewis ran strong for the Patriots on Thursday night, showing some of the quickness and tackle-breaking ability that defined his 2015 season. He is too talented for the team to cut, even at a deep position, if he continues to play like this.
- Foxborough training camp hero Austin Carr made good on all his rookie buzz with the catch of the night against Jacksonville. The Northwestern rookie is making it hard for the Patriots to cut him, even at their deep receiver position.
- Second-year Bears pass rusher Leonard Floyd, who has enjoyed a standout training camp, made Broncos free agent pickup Menelik Watson look bad on an early sack. The Broncos' offensive line has a long way to go to put last year behind them.
- Packers running back Ty Montgomery lost a fumble against the Eagles, continuing a trend from training camp. That could help rookie Jamaal Williams cut into his playing time.
- Saints rookie running back Alvin Kamara built on his camp buzz by lining up all over the field and showing great balance on the way to 35 yards on four carries. He's absolutely going to earn major playing time in a backfield that includes Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram.
- Dolphins rookie second-round linebacker Raekwon McMillan suffered a knee injury which appeared to be serious. He left the stadium on crutches. Packers cornerback Damarious Randall (concussion) and Broncos defensive lineman Billy Winn (knee) were also among the notable injuries.