It’s the NFL’s annual dress rehearsal, Week 3 of the preseason. For most of the league, this is our only extended look at first-team units for both offense and defense. Who’s standing out? Who’s struggling? Who’s making the team? Here’s the biggest takeaway for each team.
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In his first game with the Redskins, Adrian Peterson rushes for 56 yards on 11 carries against the Broncos.
The Broncos got their first win of the preseason with a well-rounded performance from the starters on both sides of the ball. Coach Vance Joseph said this past week the coaches “would look at the tape” of the starters’ work against the Redskins to “really see where we are for the regular season.” The Broncos showed balance on offense, got quality play from quarterback Case Keenum (12-of-18 for 148 yards passing) and the defense showed the kind of pressure it should be able to put on opposing passers. The Broncos’ depth in the pass rush could be seen in the final minute of the game when Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett and Clinton McDonald were still in the lineup. — Jeff Legwold
The Redskins’ defense was bad and the No. 1 offense couldn’t do anything through the air. So it was up to running back Adrian Peterson to salvage a bad night. He was signed Monday and showed he still had something left, rushing 11 times for 56 yards. Whether he can repeat that week-after-week remains to be seen, but it’s now hard to see anyone else starting in the season opener. That’s also because the Redskins other options for first- and second-down backs have not proven themselves. — John Keim
Sam Darnold is not willing to declare if he’s won the starting quarterback job, and he will keep on playing “consistent football.”
Eli Manning went 17-of-23 passing for 188 yards in the first half, but he wasn’t precise. The Giants didn’t score a touchdown in Manning’s three quarters of action this preseason. But it’s hard to make a judgment on what this offense will become since it didn’t have star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. at all and running back Saquon Barkley played just six snap. They will surely help, and the hope is that the Giants will have everyone (including tight end Evan Engram who suffered a concussion) on the field Week 1 against Jacksonville.
— Jordan Raanan
If the starting job is his to lose, Sam Darnold didn’t lose it. It wasn’t a lights-out performance, but he did a decent job in two-plus quarters. He started off hot with a long TD drive, but five of his next six series went three-and-out. The good: He battled poor field position and unfavorable down-and-distances, but never lost his poise. Flip side: This was his first extended action against a starting D, and he wasn’t as sharp as usual. Chances are, he will end up with the job because he’s had by far the most work with the starters, but he still has plenty of growing to do. — Rich Cimini
Seahawks rookie Michael Dickson fires off a booming punt that spins out of bounds at the three-yard line, much to the delight of his teammates.
You usually don’t think of punters as weapons, but that’s what the Seahawks have in rookie Michael Dickson. He had a 53.6-yard gross average on five punts, including two that pinned the Vikings at their 3-yard line. Dickson was leading the league in punting average (net and gross) through the first two preseason games. This is why the Seahawks traded up in the fifth round to draft him and why they moved on from long-time punter Jon Ryan earlier this week. They also decided on Sebastian Janikowski as their kicker this week and he went 2-for-2 against Minnesota and is 3-for-3 in the preseason. The Seahawks have their share of question marks, but the kicking game looks like it should be a strength. — Brady Henderson
Overall, Mike Zimmer said he was pleased with Kirk Cousins’ performance. He was accurate (17-for-28, 182 yards) on the majority of his throws, utilized his running backs well as pass-catching threats and was able to scramble and extend several drives. The first-team offense established a better rhythm than last week, but a ton of questions remain. The offensive line has struggled considerably with pass protection, and it remains to be seen whether trading for another team’s backup or someone on the verge of getting cut will provide a quick way to remedy those issues. The Vikings have yet to determine roles for whomever will earn the third, fourth and fifth receiver jobs. Coverage on punt returns has been an issue, and Daniel Carlson’s two missed field goal attempts are a cause for concern. — Courtney Cronin
Cam Newton compares the injury that sidelined him shortly in the first half to trying to land a plane smoothly.
The Patriots’ defense didn’t carry its momentum from Week 2, as the pass rush — which looked so impressive against the Eagles — couldn’t generate any heat. The Panthers’ opening drive, covering 9 minutes and 59 seconds, set the tone on an overall poor night. The biggest positive for the Patriots? No major injuries, as tight end Rob Gronkowski knocked off some rust by playing two series in his preseason debut and Tom Brady played the entire first half. — Mike Reiss
Assuming Cam Newton doesn’t play in the preseason finale, which he never does, you have to consider his three games in Norv Turner’s offense a success. He completed 26 of 38 attempts (68.4 percent) for 315 yards and one touchdown, including 11-of-17 for 142 yards in the dress rehearsal against New England. The makeshift offensive line held up well, so when the injured players return depth will be a strength. The defense kept Tom Brady out of the end zone, so check that as a success for a Carolina team that is 3-0. — David Newton
Adam Humphries catches the Lions’ missed 62-yard field goal and then takes it the distance, scoring a 109-yard touchdown for the Bucs.
With the preseason likely over for most of the starters — there’s definitive reason for worry with Detroit’s defense. The Lions struggled stopping the run when starters were in and gave up an easy touchdown drive to Tampa Bay’s third-string quarterback, Ryan Griffin. While the pass rush appeared to be a bit better and Ricky Jean Francois looks like a good defensive line signing, the Lions defense looks like it has a long ways to go. The offense wasn’t much better, with drops from receivers, some questionable blocking and a rushing game that averaged well below 4 yards per carry. Detroit has to hope its team improves greatly based on what it has shown in three preseason games. — Michael Rothstein
Running back Peyton Barber looked terrific, averaging 6.8 yards per carry, including a 14-yard touchdown. He runs hard and with intention. Wide receiver Chris Godwin made a really nice 11-yard touchdown catch working one-on-one against Pro Bowler Darius Slay. He looks poised for a big year. Backup guard Mike Liedtke stepped into the starting left tackle role and performed well. In his first preseason game since suffering a groin injury, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves had two key red zone pass breakups, both times forcing the Lions to settle for field goals. He’s found his home at nickelback. Now the Bucs need to keep seeing what they have on the outside in rookie Carlton Davis. — Jenna Laine
Nick Foles turns the ball over three times and stumbles in the end zone for a safety in Philadelphia’s rough first half.
Coach Doug Pederson entered Thursday’s preseason game hoping quarterback Nick Foles and the first-team offense would get going. He did not get his wish. Foles’ rocky preseason continued. He is 16-of-26 for 171 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and two fumbles lost over parts of two games. He has been sacked six times. The defending champs have some things to iron out on offense between now and the opener against the Falcons on Sept. 6. — Tim McManus
The Browns have reason to feel good about their quarterback situation exiting Thursday’s preseason game against the Eagles. Tyrod Taylor was able to return after sustaining a left hand injury in the first quarter and showed no ill effects. Rookie QB Baker Mayfield, meanwhile, made a number of quality NFL throws, including a dart through traffic to C.J. Board for 19 yards. His interception aside, Mayfield had an encouraging night overall. — Tim McManus