NFL News & Analysis

What we learned about every NFL team in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason

Aug 14, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) warms up before the game between the New York Giants and the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

PFF gives you everything you need to know from Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways by using the links below.

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ARIZONA CARDINALS

Quarterback

Undrafted rookie Chris Streveler took over for starter Colt McCoy (Kyler Murray did not play) in the second quarter. Streveler impressed on the ground, ending up with three runs of 10-plus yards on seven carries. Outside of a beautifully thrown ball in the face of the defender on a second-and-15 late in the fourth quarter, Streveler underwhelmed through the air (55.5 passing grade). 

Wide Receiver

DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green were each held out of the contest, but Arizona’s next two men on the depth chart — Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore — saw some game action.

Moore got plenty of work, seeing a target on 38.5% of his routes, and he made the most of those opportunities by earning an 80.0 receiving grade. He averaged 6.7 yards after the catch on his three receptions.

Kirk had only one reception on the night, but it was a big one. He was targeted on a go route on his lone rep against man coverage, and he hauled it in for a 34-yard gain.

Tight End

TE1 Maxx Williams played only a handful of snaps, fumbling his only reception.

Ross Travis and Demetrius Harris played most of the game, seeing 32 and 21 snaps respectively. However, each recorded a sub-55.0 PFF grade.

Running back

Arizona’s running back workload was evenly distributed. Five players saw multiple carries, but none recorded more than six for the game. 

Of those five, it was 2020 seventh-rounder Eno Benjamin who had the most success thanks to a 38-yard run and a touchdown inside the 10-yard line.

Offensive Line

The starting offensive line played the first two series of the game. Four of the five linemen logged sub-60.0 PFF grades on their 16 snaps played (Kelvin Beachum posted a 68.5 mark).

Josh Jones — a 2020 third-round pick — stayed in the game for 10 more snaps after the starting unit departed. The former tackle and now-guard finished with a 62.3 PFF grade.

Four reserves (Joshua Miles, Marcus Henry, Max Garcia and Michal Menet) hindered the group’s numbers, with each posting sub-30.0 pass-block grades.

Defensive Line

The Cardinals’ defensive line made little impact in the first week of preseason. The unit failed to produce a sack or a hit, leading to a sixth-to-last ranking in pass-rush grade. The group also led the league in missed tackles (seven) while tying for second-to-last in total run stops (three).

Arizona’s edge defenders were at the forefront of the struggles. The position’s highest-graded player topped out at 61.2 (rookie Victor Dimukeje).

Linebacker

Seven different linebackers saw the field for Arizona in the preseason opener, including projected starters Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons.

Collins played 23 total snaps and made a couple of impact plays against the run early in the game. He finished with a 71.3 PFF grade. Collins is a rare specimen with how smooth and explosive he is at his size, and it showed this past weekend.

Simmons, meanwhile, didn’t do much on his 14 snaps. He produced a 49.3 PFF grade for the game.

Secondary

Marco Wilson looked like a future star at the position to begin his college career, but he tore his ACL early in 2018 and never returned to his previous form. Needless to say, he was a risky pick for Arizona in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Cardinals need someone like Wilson to emerge this season due to a dire cornerback situation, and while it’s too early to declare him the savior, his first outing was nothing short of exceptional. He saw six targets against the Dallas Cowboys, breaking up three and allowing three catches for 30 yards. His three pass breakups led all corners for the week.


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ATLANTA FALCONS

Quarterback

NFL journeyman A.J. McCarron got the start for Atlanta and recorded a 38.1 PFF grade.

Undrafted rookie Feleipe Franks entered in relief in the second half and created some big plays on the ground. He took off four times on non-designed run plays and converted three of them into 10-plus-yard runs. His passing left a lot to be desired, though. He took a sack he shouldn’t have and missed multiple throws from a clean pocket (finished with a 53.0 passing grade).

Wide Receiver

Everything — including wide receiver — was wrong with an Atlanta passing offense that featured no starters. 

Juwan Green, Frank Darby and Chris Rowland featured as the starters but struggled to produce. In fact, of all the Falcons’ receivers to log a snap in preseason Week 1, there was only one pass caught for five yards.

Tight End

Atlanta’s top three tight ends — Kyle Pitts, Hayden Hurst and Lee Smith — did not play, leaving John Raine (23 snaps), Parker Hesse (21 snaps) and Ryan Becker (19 snaps) as the contributors at the position.

Raise, Hesse and Becker all ended up with sub-60.0 PFF grades.

Running back

Atlanta’s run game was virtually nonexistent due in large part to a poor performance from the offensive line. The Falcons’ running backs endured the second-lowest average yards before contact per attempt of the week (0.1) and ended up generating the second-worst EPA per run mark (-0.64).

Caleb Huntley broke three tackles on six attempts, but that didn’t add too much to the team’s ground game.

Offensive Line

Atlanta’s first-team offensive line sat out along with every other offensive starter. This gave the team a good look at some of the young potential within the group, but there were few positives to speak of. 

The Falcons’ offensive linemen combined for the worst PFF grade of Week 1 among the 32 units.

Six rookies logged considerable playing time, and only one didn’t perform at a “poor” level in terms of PFF grade (Ryan Neuzil, 66.2 PFF grade). The other five rookies earned sub-55.0 marks.

Defensive Line

Atlanta has some legit concerns along its defensive line outside of interior defensive lineman Grady Jarrett, and the unit’s performance against Tennessee didn’t alleviate those worries. Five of the 14 defensive linemen logged a sub-45.0 PFF grade.

Marlon Davidson was one of the few positives. The 2020 second-rounder is still in the process of making the move inside, and he looked comfortable there in preseason Week 1 with a 77.0 PFF grade.

Linebacker

The backup linebacker spot in Atlanta could be open after this outing. Mykal Walker and Emmanuel Ellerbee entered the game as second-stringers, but both put forth poor performances. Ellerbee finished with a 44.4 PFF grade, while Walker recorded a 28.1 mark.

NFL journeyman Brandon Copeland impressed on his 12 snaps, earning an 81.4 PFF grade.

Undrafted rookies Dorian Etheridge and Erroll Thompson were the most impressive at the position. They played the most snaps of the group and finished with two of the three best run-defense grades at the position across the NFL for the week.

Secondary

Atlanta drafted safety Richie Grant at No. 40 overall in 2021, but he got off to a rocky start. He produced a 49.9 coverage grade on 14 coverage snaps (most of which came in the slot).

Day 3 rookie Avery Williams, on the other hand, performed admirably on his few reps. Williams played eight coverage snaps and came away with an 81.8 coverage grade, featuring a third-down forced incompletion in the end zone.


BALTIMORE RAVENS

Quarterback

Neither Trace McSorley (59.7 PFF grade) nor Tyler Huntley (63.9 PFF grade) ran away with the competition to back up Lamar Jackson.

Huntley flashed as a runner — the highlight of the night for Baltimore. He scored the go-ahead touchdown on a designed run and recorded four carries for 44 yards (30 after contact) before the kneel-downs to end the game. 

McSorley’s 2.6-second average time to throw was significantly quicker than Huntley’s mark of 3.2 seconds. However, McSorley still took two sacks compared to Huntley’s one. 

Running back

The Ravens’ rushing attack wasn’t what we have come to expect over the past several years. They averaged just 3.3 yards per run play. 

Gus Edwards did not play, and J.K. Dobbins saw just eight offensive snaps (three carries, 0 yards). 

Ty’Son Williams was Baltimore’s highest-graded running back (73.0). Four of his 11 carries went for a first down.

New Orleans Saints safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (22) talks Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Devin Duvernay (13). Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver

None of Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman (injured) or Sammy Watkins saw snaps. 

Devin Duvernay was targeted on six of his 24 routes, resulting in a position-high four receptions for 28 yards. Duvernay also dropped a pass. 

Jaylon Moore recorded a team-high 70.1 receiving grade. He caught both of his catchable targets, one of which was a contested back-shoulder throw on the sideline. 

Tight end

With neither Mark Andrews nor Nick Boyle seeing the field, 2019 third-round pick Josh Oliver played 51 of Baltimore’s 75 offensive snaps. Oliver managed just 22 receiving yards on his five targets and 32 routes run.

Undrafted free agent Tony Poljan led all Ravens tight ends in run-blocking grade (69.4) — a key element in this offense — on his limited five-play sample size.

The Ravens ran 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends) on just 12 of their 75 offensive snaps   

Offensive line

Second-year offensive lineman Tyre Phillips played both left guard and left tackle in the preseason opener, and he struggled in pass protection. Phillips allowed four pressures (tied for most on team) in 16 pass-blocking snaps.  

Trystan Colon-Castillo and Greg Mancz fell on the opposite end of the spectrum, allowing zero pressures in 56 combined pass-blocking snaps.

Ben Bredeson played more snaps than any offensive lineman for Baltimore (29 at left guard, 37 at right guard) and he was the Ravens’ highest-graded offensive lineman (72.7) with 70-plus grades in pass protection and as a run-blocker. 

Defensive line

Baltimore stayed true to its blitz-heavy identity with a 51.2% blitz rate (third among all defenses).

No individual pass rusher dominated their matchups, but five different players had multiple pressures in the game. 

Justin Madubuike was dominant against the run (91.9 run-defense grade) in limited action, highlighted by a forced fumble where he worked across the line to get to the running back. 

Linebackers

Patrick Queen stole the show in his 20 defensive snaps. He was the first contact defender on five of those plays and showcased his speed on a two-play stretch that involved a tackle for loss on a screen and a sack. 

Malik Harrison (75.4 PFF grade) and L.J. Fort (67.0) both played well in the LB2 competition to start alongside Queen. 

Secondary

2020 seventh-round pick Geno Stone was a big part of Baltimore’s turnover party. Stone intercepted two passes and forced another incompletion in the flat. 

Chris Westry was targeted five times and allowed just two receptions for six yards on those passes to go along with two forced incompletions. 

Rookie Shaun Wade made a nice play on the ball to intercept Ian Book and put the game away late in the fourth quarter, lined up in press at outside cornerback. 

BUFFALO BILLS

Quarterback

Mitchell Trubisky only passed the ball twice on his 11 offensive snaps (1-of-2, 10 yards).

Forty-two of Jake Fromm’s 65 passing yards (on 13 attempts) came on a 42-yard completion to Marquez Stevenson

Davis Webb was the most effective Buffalo quarterback (71.5 passing grade), coming in after Trubisky and before Fromm in the pecking order.    

Running back

Devin Singletary capitalized on his featured starting running back opportunity while Zack Moss was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Singletary broke five missed tackles on eight rushes, averaging over 5.0 yards per carry in the game. 

Matt Breida was less effective coming into the game in the second quarter. He came away with a 57.4 PFF grade on 21 snaps.

Wide receiver

Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders all sat out of the contest, while Gabriel Davis, Isaiah McKenzie and Jake Kumerow only ran two routes each. 

Marquez Stevenson was the only wide receiver with more than 15 yards receiving in the game, 42 of which came on one reception late in the fourth quarter.

No Bills wide receiver dropped a pass in the game. 

Tight end

Dawson Knox started the game at tight end, and he brought in his lone target for 10 yards and a first down. 

2019 seventh-round pick Tommy Sweeney was one of the Bills’ top receiving options in the game. Both of his targets resulted in 15-plus yard gains on plays where he found himself wide open underneath and created positive plays after the catch.

Offensive line

Buffalo started with Spencer Brown (LT), Ike Boettger (LG), Ryan Bates (C), Cody Ford (RG) and Bobby Hart (RT) as the starting offensive line with the majority of the starters sitting out.  

Brown was the highest-graded offensive lineman in the game (75.9) in his 46 snaps at left tackle. 

Hart struggled in pass protection — a problem area for years — with five pressures allowed in 25 pass-blocking snaps, including two sacks.  

Defensive line

First-round rookie Gregory Rousseau saw first-team action without Jerry Hughes or Mario Addison in the lineup and produced a team-high three pressures. He did a good job of using his length on several plays.

Fellow rookie Boogie Basham struggled against the run, earning just a 40.4 run-defense grade in his 13 snaps vs. the run.  

Harrison Phillips was the highest-graded defender on the unit (88.6). He had two impressive first-quarter wins as a pass-rusher, one against Halapoulivaati Vaitai and one against Jonah Jackson

Linebackers

Buffalo’s top three linebackers — Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano and A.J. Klein — all sat out against Detroit.

Andre Smith was Buffalo’s highest-graded defender (90.2 overall) in his 39 defensive snaps. Smith was targeted five times in coverage, and he allowed just 23 receiving yards on those targets. Smith also came away with a leaping interception in the third quarter. 

Mike Bell (88.5 overall grade) and Tyler Matakevich (86.2) also earned PFF grades of 85.0 or higher.   

Secondary

Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer and Taron Johnson all sat out of this game. Levi Wallace (22 snaps) and Dane Jackson (29 snaps) were the only potential starters who saw action. 

Wallace (70.8 overall grade) outperformed Jackson (36.4 overall grade) in that limited sample. Wallace made a nice play on the ball late in the first quarter to break up a pass in the end zone. 

Safety Josh Thomas delivered an impressive performance against the run (86.8 run-defense grade) that was highlighted by a first-quarter tackle for loss. 


CAROLINA PANTHERS

Quarterback

With new starting quarterback Sam Darnold not playing, it was former XFL star Phillip Walker who opened up the game as the leader of Carolina’s offense. He showed off his escapability and delivered a big-time throw on the run for a touchdown in the second quarter. Walker finished the day with three big-time throws, but inconsistent accuracy and a turnover-worthy play lowered his passing grade to 69.7 for the game.

Will Grier didn’t have nearly the same success. The 2019 third-rounder earned a 41.4 PFF grade on 14 dropbacks.

Wide Receiver

With D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson staying put on the sideline, rookies Terrace Marshall Jr. and Shi Smith stole the show

Marshall saw a target on five of his 16 routes and helped convert a couple of those into 15-plus-yard gains. He did fumble the ball following his biggest play but was responsible for the gain, as he got open on a scramble adjustment.

Smith, meanwhile, grabbed a deep reception after beating his man vertically, and he did so knowing the safety was in position to hit him with force.

Tight End

Neither Dan Arnold nor Ian Thomas took part in Carolina’s opening preseason contest.

Four different tight ends got reps instead, but the focus was on rookie Tommy Tremble. He was targeted four times on 13 routes and teamed up with Phillip Walker for a touchdown on a broken play inside the 10-yard line.

Running back

Dynamic receiving threat Christian McCaffrey didn’t take the field for Carolina. That led to more opportunities for undrafted rookies Chuba Hubbard (28 snaps) and Spencer Brown (21 snaps).

Hubbard got the team’s attention with his impact on the ground. He earned a 76.6 rushing grade on seven carries. One was a 15-yard gain, while another was a run set up to be a stuff that Hubbard turned into a 59-yard gain. Yet, Hubbard dropped two of his four targets en route to a 27.2 receiving grade.

Offensive Line

Carolina’s reserve linemen played the entire game. Guard Aaron Monteiro was a noteworthy performer thanks to his dominance in the run game (90.4 run-block grade).

Rookies Brady Christensen and Deonte Brown also saw the field. Christensen lost four reps in pass protection on 34 such snaps, while Brown lost none of the 14 he saw.

Defensive Line

The Panthers’ line was notably undisciplined in run defense. Six of the eight defensive linemen earned sub-60.0 run-defense grades. 

Rookie interior defensive lineman Daviyon Nixon earned a 47.0 run-defense and a 51.5 pass-rush grade, leading to a 44.3 overall mark that was at the bottom of the group.

Edge defender Marquis Haynes, a 2018 fourth-rounder, was the top pass-rusher. He earned a 77.3 pass-rush grade, anchored by three combined sacks plus hits.

Linebacker

Five linebackers — all of whom were undrafted to start their NFL careers — saw some snaps for Carolina, trying to make an impression for a backup spot.

It was an unattractive day for most of the position group, but especially so for recent signee Josh Bynes. The veteran earned a 26.8 PFF across his 49 snaps.

Secondary

Former XFL star Kenny Robinson Jr. was the leader of the Panthers’ secondary. He earned an 88.2 coverage grade that was anchored by an interception on a throw from Sam Ehlinger that was too far behind the receiver.

Top-10 rookie Jaycee Horn didn’t play a down.

Outside of Robinson, the performance was subpar. Rookie Keith Taylor and second-year corner Troy Pride Jr. both had days to forget. They combined for 149 yards and six first downs allowed in coverage.


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CHICAGO BEARS

Quarterback

Andy Dalton started and was followed by Justin Fields then Nick Foles, but it was the 11th overall pick who played the majority of the game.

Fields led Chicago to -0.57 EPA per pass play in his first three drives, and he fumbled the ball on a scramble.

From the fourth drive on, Fields went 12-of-14 for 132 yards and a touchdown while generating 0.31 EPA per pass play and earning a 74.9 passing grade. He also took three scrambles for 31 yards and a score.

Wide Receiver

Riley Ridley, Rodney Adams, Javon Wims and Chris Lacy were the only wideouts to run more than nine routes.

Adams was the top performer of the group. He did drop a pass but hauled in a contested grab downfield, He generated 3.0 yards per route run on the day.

Wims struggled to separate, committed a pre-snap penalty and didn’t catch a pass.

Tight End

Chicago’s top two tight ends — Cole Kmet and Jimmy Graham — only played seven and two snaps, respectively.

Kmet did see a couple of targets on four routes, with his one catch being a backfield flare for a three-yard gain.

Jesse James, whom the team signed in July, played the most of any tight end and caught a 30-yard touchdown pass thanks to a busted coverage.

Running back

David Montgomery kicked off the game with a three-yard run, but that ended up being his final snap of the game.

After that, it was the Khalil Herbert, Damien Williams, Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce show. All four backs had one of their carries result in a 10-plus-yard gain.

Offensive Line

The Bears offensive line earned the fourth-highest team pass-blocking grade of Week 1.

Cody Whitehair played the first four series with the starters and finished the day as the team's highest-graded offensive lineman (71.3 on 13 snaps).

Tackles Lachavious Simmons and Elijah Wilkinson were serviceable, with PFF grades of 67.2 and 63.4, respectively.

Defensive Line

The Bears won 35 total reps on the night, the most in the NFL in preseason Week 1.

Edge defender Jeremiah Attaochu led the group with an 88.6 pass-rush grade and six wins on 10 rushes.

Ledarius Mack came away with a quarterback hit on one of his two rushes while big brother Khalil put up a goose egg on his four attempts.

Linebacker

Starters Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan didn’t play a down.

Those who did play all provided low-level performances in coverage, giving Chicago the second-lowest-graded linebacker unit in coverage for the week. 

Recent signee Alec Ogletree opened up a throw for Tua Tagovailoa by letting up on Mike Gesicki in coverage,  which resulted in a 50-yard gain. He also allowed three other catches for 20 yards.

Secondary

Chicago’s defensive backs earned the second-highest coverage grade of the week among secondary units, and they combined for more passing stops and plays made on the ball (eight) than first downs allowed (five).

The highest-graded player in coverage was safety DeAndre Houston-Carson, who took advantage of a Tua Tagovailoa mistake in the end zone and picked off a pass.

Tre Roberson, a former CFL stud, also had himself a quality day. He played 16 coverage snaps on the outside and forced an incompletion on both of his targets.


CINCINNATI BENGALS

Quarterback

Neither Brandon Allen (50.8 passing grade) nor Kyle Shurmur (45.5 passing grade) delivered a strong performance.  

The two quarterbacks combined for three turnover-worthy plays (tied for second-most by an offense in Week 1 of the preseason). 

Both quarterbacks had at least 74% of their passing yards come after the catch. Shurmur led the way with an aDOT of just 4.5 yards. 

Running back

Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine both just saw four offensive snaps, leaving the work to be split primarily between Chris Evans (33 snaps) and Jacques Patrick (30 snaps). 

Patrick forced seven missed tackles on his 15 carries, proving to be tough to bring down. 

Evans had a strong night as a receiver with four receptions for 33 yards and a pair of first downs on his 14 routes run. 

Wide receiver

Rookie Ja’Marr Chase only ran three routes in his NFL debut, but he did deliver a nice run after the catch on a 16-yard reception.

Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd all recorded receiving first downs on four or fewer routes run. 

Trenton Irwin was the only player on Cincinnati’s offense with an average depth of target over 7.0 yards downfield (14.4). He led the team in receptions (three) and receiving yards (35).

Tight end

C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample both drew limited snaps as the top two tight ends on the depth chart. 

Thaddeus Moss ran after the catch for 15 yards on his lone reception, coming on a play where he worked across the field against the play-action fake to get open in space.  

Cincinnati ran 12 personnel on 39% of their offensive plays (third in Week 1). They were 25th in 12 personnel rate in 2020 (15%).

Offensive line

The offensive line as a whole held up well in pass protection. A quick release by the quarterbacks helped, but Cincinnati allowed just a 16.7% pressure rate in the game (fifth-best on the week).

D’Ante Smith wasn’t beaten in 13 pass-blocking snaps between time at both left guard and left tackle.

Quinton Spain (LG), Billy Price (C) and Michael Jordan (RG) were the starting trio on the interior with Trey Hopkins working his way back from a torn ACL.

Jackson Carman worked at right guard later on, and he earned a 50.0 PFF grade in his 40 snaps.

Defensive line

Cincinnati’s pass rush did a good job of getting home, recording a 39.5% pressure rate as a team.

Joseph Ossai (seven pressures), Darius Hodge (five), Cameron Sample (four) and Amani Bledsoe (four) led the charge. 

Ossai also provided solid play against the run with a 79.8 run-defense grade. There were several occasions where he chased down a play from behind or got penetration, even if he wasn’t directly involved in the tackle.  

Linebackers

Presumptive starters Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt both played fewer than six defensive snaps in the game.

Keandre Jones and Joe Bachie both recorded pass breakups in the game. 

Akeem Davis-Gaither led the position in snaps for Cincinnati (31) and earned a solid 66.5 PFF grade. He was charged with just one reception allowed for 7 yards in 18 coverage snaps. 

Secondary

Fourth-year cornerback out of Utah State, Jalen Davis, didn’t allow a reception into his coverage on three targets, also adding two pass breakups that both resulted in interceptions.   

Darius Phillips is behind Chidobe Awuzie, Trae Waynes and Mike Hilton on the depth chart at cornerback, but he had a solid night in coverage with one reception allowed and one pass breakup. 

The Bengals played nickel (five defensive backs) on 82% of their defensive snaps, the third-highest rate in the league this week.


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CLEVELAND BROWNS

Quarterbacks

Case Keenum and Kyle Lauletta shared the snaps, and both played well — Lauletta especially so. 

Keenum did not complete a pass over 12 yards but didn't put the ball in harm’s way (zero turnover-worthy plays).

Lauletta (91.4 PFF grade) was very efficient, but his ball placement wasn’t ideal. Among players who threw more than 15 passes, his percentage of catchable but inaccurate passes was the fourth-worst of the weekend. 

Running backs

The offensive line struggled to generate openings for any of the running backs, with 44 of the 42 total yards coming after contact.

John Kelly at least put up a struggle. While his eight attempts combined for only -1 yard, he managed to break a remarkable five tackles in the process. 

Wide receivers

No Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry or Anthony Schwartz (injured)

Not a ton of wide receiver usage — ran base or two tight ends on 50 of 72 snaps.

Standout was Davion Davis (80.7 PFF grade) who caught all four of his targets, including a touchdown, with two of those receptions being contested. 

KhaDarel Hodge dropped the only pass by a Browns WR — an out route out of the left slot that would have been for a touchdown.

Tight ends

Four of the Browns' six tight ends saw no action (no Austin Hooper or David Njoku).

Harrison Bryant was completely anonymous, doing little of note in his 17 snaps.

Jordan Franks played the most snaps (37). All four of his targets were contested (he caught two), and he did not manage a first down. 

Offensive line

None of the five slated starters played.

The usual second string started this game, and LG Michael Dunn (75.7 PFF grade) was the standout. His work in pass protection was unblemished. While he did look a little underpowered at the line of scrimmage, his work on screens was good and he got downfield smoothly. 

Rookie James Hudson looked out of his depth in pass protection, losing out badly to K’Lavon Chaisson twice. 

Defensive line

2020 fifth-round pick Curtis Weaver led the Browns’ defensive line in both snaps played (40) and overall PFF grade (67.4).

Few Cleveland defensive linemen got after the quarterback at a high rate. Joe Jackson led the defense in total pressures (3). Romeo McKnight was the only other player with multiple pressures.   

Linebackers

Second-round pick Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah showed no signs of rust after missing the beginning of training camp. He was the primary coverage defender on nine targets, but those targets resulted in just 40 yards. 

JOK recorded three tackles for loss or no gain (second among all linebackers in Week 1). 

Secondary

It was a big game from Richard LeCounte, who came down with an interception and another near interception he dropped late in the first half. 

A.J. Green was targeted only once in 23 coverage snaps and that pass resulted in a forced incompletion.

The Browns used nickel (five defensive backs) on 82.1% of their defensive snaps, fourth among all defenses.


DALLAS COWBOYS

Quarterback

Dak Prescott remained sidelined with a reportedly minor shoulder injury, so Garrett Gilbert again got the start, playing 23 snaps before heading to the bench.

Gilbert completed just 43.8% of his passes, and though there were two drops in there, ball location data shows 46.7% of his pass attempts were uncatchable — the worst mark of the three Cowboys passers.

None of the three Dallas quarterbacks made a turnover-worthy play in the game.

Wide Receiver

Amari Cooper was out injured, but CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup each started, playing 11 and 10 snaps, respectively, before giving way to the backups. Gallup caught two passes for 23 yards and operated from the slot on four of his six passing snaps. 

Malik Turner led the team in passing snaps (24) and targets (six), tying for the lead in catches with three for 30 yards, only one of which was a first down.

Cedrick Wilson continued to flash ability so far this preseason, coming up with a 34-yard snag, the longest of the game for Dallas. Wilson has lined up both in the slot and out wide with the Cowboys’ second team this preseason. He is an intriguing depth player outside of their big three.

Tight End

Blake Jarwin and Sean McKeon started the game as part of a two-tight end formation. Jarwin saw one pass come his way in the game — a tight end screen that fell in front of him because of pressure on the quarterback.

Undrafted rookie Nick Eubanks was the only Dallas tight end to catch more than one pass, bringing in both of his targets for 14 yards and one first down.

Running Back

Tony Pollard started but played just six snaps before ceding to the backups. Pollard still flashed on just four carries, breaking a tackle and gaining 12 of his 13 yards after contact.

Rico Dowdle had another heavy workload, playing 32 snaps on offense. He carried the ball eight times for just 25 yards, but 22 of them came after contact. The real damage to his grade was done on a fumble in the passing game as he tried to grind out some yards after the catch.

Undrafted rookie JaQuan Hardy carried the ball eight times and broke seven tackles, racking up 29 yards after contact.

Offensive line

Despite Tyron Smith and Zack Martin staying out of this game, presumed starter La'el Collins notched 14 snaps.

Connor Williams continues to see work at center, playing all 14 of his snaps at that position this week. Yet, Williams notched a lowly 24.0 overall grade and a 0.0 pass-blocking grade after getting wrecked by a defensive tackle on one of his nine pass-blocking snaps.

Connor McGovern played all 39 of his snaps at left guard, earning an 85.4 overall grade to go along with his 80.0-plus mark in the Hall of Fame game. McGovern has yet to allow a quarterback pressure this preseason across more than 40 pass-blocking snaps.

Defensive Line

Neville Gallimore played just two snaps before going down with a dislocated elbow, which is said to keep him out for six to eight weeks.

Bradlee Anae recorded three total pressures and an 87.3 PFF pass-rushing grade, but a missed tackle against the run ultimately led to a 59.2 overall mark.

Ron’Dell Carter led the team with four total pressures from 28 pass-rushing snaps. He tied for the team lead with 51 defensive snaps, the same total as third-round rookie Osa Odighizuwa, who looked improved from his preseason debut.

Linebacker

Keanu Neal’s transition to linebacker is going well so far. This outing marked his second straight impressive PFF grade on limited snaps (99.6). He forced a fumble and made two defensive stops on just 12 snaps. Dallas is all of a sudden loaded with linebackers, and Neal may be a real option for playing time there.

Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (2) runs the ball against Dallas Cowboys linebacker Keanu Neal (42). Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Micah Parsons and Neal were the starters, while Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith each played with the second team. Neither player saw much action before Jabril Cox came on to play the majority of the rest of the game.

Secondary

Trevon Diggs played 16 snaps as a starter but didn’t see a target.

Jourdan Lewis also started, giving up two catches for 14 yards. All three were either screens to running backs or receivers, and Lewis hit the ground twice while trying to make the stop after the catch, with rookie Rondale Moore escaping him for a decent gain on one occasion.

Safety Steven Parker earned the best overall PFF grade of any Cowboys defensive back, notching an 82.4 mark and registering a pass breakup.


DENVER BRONCOS

Quarterback

All three quarterbacks saw snaps, but none had much work to do, as Drew Lock (starter) and Teddy Bridgewater topped out at eight dropbacks each. 

Lock earned the best PFF grade (84.3) of the trio and had the best stats, but they were inflated by one 80-yard bomb to a wide-open K.J. Hamler.

Lock also had the best percentage of accurate passes (71.4% by PFF’s ball-location charting) and likely took a step toward earning the starting job.

Running back

Javonte Williams started the game and only played six snaps, but those snaps saw him flash big-time ability. He broke three tackles on just five carries and gained 21 of 29 rushing yards after contact.

Melvin Gordon III did not play, as he was dealing with a groin injury, which opened the door for Williams to impress both in this game and practice.

Royce Freeman was the next man up after Williams, but he also played just six snaps before giving way to Damarea Crockett (18 snaps) and LeVante Bellamy (five).

Wide receiver

Hamler caught two passes for 105 yards — one of which was a deep bomb against what looked like a busted coverage by the Vikings' makeshift secondary, who were seemingly surprised by the speed of a player they practiced against all week. 

Trinity Benson led the team in targets (four) and catches (also four) on just 10 passing snaps and also caught a pair of touchdowns. 

Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick didn’t play.

Rookie sixth-rounder Seth Williams caught one pass for 13 yards while lining up outside on all but one of his seven passing snaps.

Tight end

Noah Fant played eight snaps, only three of which were passing plays. He was not targeted. 

Albert Okwuegbunam did not play.

Undrafted rookie Shaun Beyer led the team in snaps at the position but earned an overall PFF grade of 37.8 thanks to dropping the only target sent his way.

Offensive line

Neither of the projected starters on the left side of the line (Garett Bolles and Dalton Risner) played, but the other three members of the starting unit each saw at least 20 snaps.

Lloyd Cushenberry III, the weakest member of the line a season ago, played 30 snaps at center and earned solid PFF grades of at least 68.8 in every facet of play.

Cushenberry’s biggest threat for a starting spot — rookie Quinn Meinerz — played 25 snaps split between center and right guard and graded even better. That remains a battle to watch.

Defensive line

The Vikings rested almost everybody of consequence for this game, and their backup line struggled to contain Shamar Stephen, a former Viking whose career-high is 10 total pressures over a season. Stephen had two on 14 rushes on Saturday.

None of the projected starters on the defensive line played in the game.

Malik Reed had a hit on the quarterback and a 78.2 PFF pass-rushing grade from 11 pass-rush snaps.

Linebackers

The two lowest-graded defenders on the Broncos defense were both linebackers — Justin Strnad (42.6 overall) and Josh Watson (29.1).

Peter Kalambayi came in later in the game and was a significant upgrade, though even he missed a tackle and allowed an 18-yard completion into his coverage.

Secondary

Patrick Surtain II was the star of the game, notching a pick-six and a pass breakup on the two passes thrown into his coverage. It was only against Minnesota’s backups, but Surtain looks NFL-ready.

Saivion Smith — an undrafted player from 2019 — also had a pass breakup and an 84.9 PFF coverage grade, allowing just one catch for 7 yards.

No Broncos corner allowed more than one catch for nine yards in coverage against a disastrous Vikings offense.


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DETROIT LIONS

Quarterback

Jared Goff delivered a big-time throw on a Cover 2 holeshot in his Lions debut, which anchored his 83.5 passing grade for the game.

Tim Boyle found minimal success as Detroit’s QB2. He failed to see a linebacker on a pass that ended up being picked off, and he did the same on another throw that could have also been intercepted. That led him to a 33.6 PFF grade for the game.

David Blough notched a big-time throw on one of his six pass attempts but negated that with a bad decision and a turnover-worthy play.

Wide Receiver

Rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown played the first two series for Detroit and caught a couple of passes on his seven routes.

Starter Tyrell Williams saw four targets on 10 routes and notched a couple of first downs. One was the Goff big-time throw, which Williams converted on a toe-tapping catch by the sideline, and the other was a five-yard hitch where he forced a missed tackle and added six yards after the catch.

Undrafted rookie Javon McKinley made an impression late in the game. He beat his man in press coverage on a go route for a deep reception.

Tight End

Five Detroit tight ends played more than 10 snaps with T.J. Hockenson out.

None made a major impact, as the group combined for two catches that went for one and nine yards.

Alize Mack was the leader of the group in snaps played (23).

Running back

Two clear winners emerged from Detroit’s running back room, neither of whom were RB2 Jamaal Williams, who led the group in carries (nine).

2021 undrafted free agent Dedrick Mills and 2019 undrafted free agent Craig Reynolds both led the Lions’ rushing attack. Mills broke two tackles and generated two runs of 10-plus yards on five attempts, while Reynolds broke five tackles and posted three runs of 10-plus yards on six attempts.

Offensive Line

Detroit’s starting line played the first two series and was rather messy in pass protection. The unit lost 10 reps on 13 such plays, and three of the five recorded sub-50.0 pass-block grades.

As a team, Detroit ranked sixth-to-last of the 32 offensive line units in pass-block grade.

Two of the three highest-graded offensive linemen didn’t belong to the starting line (2020 fourth-rounder Logan Stenberg and undrafted free agent Tommy Kraemer).

Very few were expecting Penei Sewell — a “generational” talent — to give up a sack on the opening drive of his preseason debut, but that's exactly what happened. And he made another couple of uncharacteristic mistakes, including a complete whiff in the run game and a delayed takeoff that led to a lost rep in pass protection. There were some positives mixed in to help his PFF grade settle at 66.5 for the game, but it wasn’t pretty from Sewell in his first game at right tackle and first overall since Jan. 1, 2020.

Defensive Line

Detroit’s pass rush didn’t have a strong day. Nearly half of the team’s total pressures along the defensive line came courtesy of Julian Okwara (eight of 17), and he got half of his on plays where it was virtually handed to him (i.e., either unblocked or cleanup).

The line made up for its lackluster pass rush with quality run defense. The group finished sixth among the 32 lines in run-defense grade.

Linebacker

Derrick Barnes was limited in training camp due to injury and played only eight snaps in his preseason debut. But he was assignment-sound and a playmaker on those limited reps. He recorded a quarterback hit, a passing stop and a run-stop assist.

The rest of the group wasn’t as good, especially veteran Jamie Collins Sr., who struggled against the run. He ended up with a 28.4 overall grade on 11 snaps.

Secondary

For the Lions, this year is all about rebuilding the secondary after an abysmal 2020. That turnaround got off to a less-than-stellar start in the preseason. Detroit had the fifth-lowest-graded secondary in coverage and made only one play on the ball as a group.

Jeff Okudah, last year’s No. 3 overall pick, played only two coverage snaps.

Nickell Robey-Coleman, whom the team just signed a week ago, played 11 coverage snaps but earned a lowly 47.5 coverage grade.


GREEN BAY PACKERS

Quarterback

The world finally got to see Jordan Love take the field in green and yellow after he worked the sideline as a rookie in 2020. The output from the former 26th overall pick was all right. He made a beautiful throw on a third-and-nine, splitting the safeties down the middle of the field for a 34-yard gain. His biggest mistake was going the wrong way on a play-action pass that ended with him launching an inaccurate pass downfield into double coverage. Love finished with a 72.4 PFF grade on the day.

Wide Receiver

Devin Funchess, Malik Taylor and rookie Amari Rodgers played the most for Green Bay among the wideouts. The first two had productive days, while Rodgers didn’t do anything exciting.

Funchess and Taylor each earned receiving grades north of 76.0 and generated 3.18 and 2.50 yards per route run, respectively.

Rodgers saw four targets on 20 routes — two on screens and two on crossers (one shallow, one intermediate). He caught only the underneath concepts and picked up 15 total receiving yards en route to a 53.4 receiving grade.

Tight End

Green Bay’s top three tight ends — Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis and Josiah Deguara — didn’t play in the team’s first preseason outing.

Jace Sternberger took on the brunt of reps at the position and was the only tight end to see a target. He caught all three of the passes thrown his way, including the 34-yard gain from Love down the seam.

Running back

It was an underwhelming day for most of the Packers’ running backs.

There was only one broken tackle and one run of 10-plus yards between the 19 carries split among Patrick Taylor Jr. (nine), Kylin Hill (five), Dexter Williams (four) and A.J. Dillon (one). And both of those were on one run from Williams. The group as a whole finished eighth-to-last in rushing efficiency among the 32 teams.

Offensive Line

There were some highs and lows from the Green Bay offensive line in Week 1. The rookies did impress, but projected key contributors faltered. 

Day 3 rookies Royce Newman (83.6) and Cole Van Lanen (70.5) were the two highest-graded linemen from the Packers. Both played 26 snaps.

The team’s two lowest-graded linemen were new pickup Dennis Kelly (56.7) and Lucas Patrick (44.9).

Defensive Line

Green Bay’s defensive line tied for the third-fewest total pressures that weren’t unblocked or cleanup (five). This is to be expected from a team with not one snap from its crop of Week 1 starters, but still, it’s not a good start for the reserves.

Edge defender Chauncey Rivers — a 2020 UDFA — was the highest-graded defensive lineman (70.5). That was largely thanks to his pair of run stops.

Linebacker

Green Bay’s off-ball linebacker room was a highlight. The unit combined for the seventh-best grade among the 32 position groups.

Four of the five linebackers to play earned a 70.0-plus PFF grade.

2018 third-round pick Oren Burks put forth an encouraging performance. He earned an 84.2 run-defense grade and recorded a couple of pressures on unblocked blitzes.

Secondary

Green Bay had Josh Jackson and Kabion Ento covering the outside for most of the game, and the two had wildly different outings.

Jackson forced a couple of incompletions but ultimately earned a 52.0 coverage grade due to allowing seven receptions for 91 yards (five of which were first downs).

Ento, meanwhile, earned an 83.9 coverage grade. He allowed zero catches on a couple of targets in coverage, with one being a savvy interception coming off his man in coverage.

First-round pick Eric Stokes played only six snaps in coverage.


HOUSTON TEXANS

Quarterback

Tyrod Taylor played one drive as the starter, and he delivered the best performance of any of Houston’s three quarterback options. Taylor hit all four of his pass attempts for 40 yards. None of those passing yards came after the catch.

Davis Mills’ night wasn’t perfect by any means (61.1 PFF passing grade), but it was significantly better than Jeff Driskel’s, who completed just one of his six pass attempts despite an average depth of target 2.8 yards.

Only 19.1% of Mills’ passes were charted as accurate, the lowest of any quarterback with at least 15 attempts.  

Running back

None of Houston’s veteran additions at running back played, leaving Scottie Phillips, Buddy Howell and Darius Jackson to split the snaps. 

Phillips forced four missed tackles as a runner (t-7th at running back) and ran for 66 yards total on 13 carries. He also tied for the team lead in targets (five) on 17 routes, turning those looks into four receptions for 23 yards.    

Wide receiver

Nico Collins and Chris Conley started outside with a mixture of Keke Coutee and Anthony Miller in the slot. Brandin Cooks, Houston’s top receiver, didn’t play.  

Conley was Taylor’s top target early in the game. He finished with four receptions for 51 yards on just 10 routes run. Three of those receptions were contested catches. 

Collins was only targeted once on 20 routes in the game. He turned that target into a 24-yard reception.  

Tight end

Five different tight ends played at least 10 offensive snaps for Houston. Antony Auclair led the way with 30.

Brevin Jordan’s 11 receiving yards were the most of any Houston tight end. Jordan went out on a route on 20 of his 22 offensive snaps. No other tight end on the team had 10 routes run.  

Offensive line

Geron Christian Sr. and Charlie Heck started the game for Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard at tackle. Neither player cleared a 60.0 pass-blocking grade. 

The offensive line, as a whole, limited pressure well. Houston’s 5.0% pressure rate allowed was the lowest during the opening week of the preseason. 

Christian’s 88.2 run-blocking grade was the highest on the team against the Packers.

Defensive line

Jacob Martin, Ross Blacklock, Vincent Taylor and Jordan Jenkins started the game along the defensive line for Houston.

Jenkins didn’t record any pressures in the game, but he did come away with a 78.1 pass-rush grade courtesy of three pass-rush wins that didn’t result in pressures. 

The Packers ran for just two yards before contact in the game (fourth-lowest last week). Jaleel Johnson had the highest run-defense grade on Houston’s defensive line at 81.2.    

Linebackers

None of the starters on Houston’s initial depth chart — Zach Cunningham, Christian Kirksey and Kevin Pierre-Louis — played. Neville Hewitt and Kamu Grugier-Hill drew the starting roles. 

Tae Davis earned just a 28.0 run-defense grade in 12 snaps. 

Grugier-Hill was one of 16 defenders with multiple tackles for loss or no gain in the first week of preseason action, and he finished with two. 

Secondary

The Texans ran Cover 2 on 33% of their defensive snaps in Lovie Smith’s first game as defensive coordinator. Only the Eagles ran it at a higher rate in the first week of preseason action. Houston also ranked second in Cover 1 usage (60%).

Terrance Mitchell was targeted three times when lined up outside on 11 coverage snaps, resulting in three receptions. However, those receptions went for just 16 yards and no first downs. 

Lonnie Johnson Jr.’s 80.9 overall grade led all Texans defensive backs. Twenty-five of his 30 defensive snaps came deep in free safety alignments.


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Quarterback

Jacob Eason started the game at quarterback and only strengthened his lead on the backup job with his performance. His 94.5 overall grade led all quarterbacks in the opening week of the preseason. Sam Ehlinger earned a 72.7 overall grade in his 39 snaps.

Eason dominated from a clean pocket, completing 14 of 18 pass attempts for 178 yards. Things fell apart a bit when pressured, though. The Colts averaged -3.8 yards per play on Eason’s six pressured dropbacks. 

Ehlinger added some mobility to the position. He scrambled four times for 34 yards and three first downs. 

Running back

Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines both sat out of this game, which left Marlon Mack and Jordan Wilkins to split time early. 

It was tough sledding for all of Indianapolis’ running backs. The group totaled 9 rushing yards before contact on 27 attempts. 

Benny LeMay was the most productive rusher of the group with 26 rushing yards (19 after contact) on six carries. 

Wide receiver

None of the projected starters on the Colts’ initial depth chart (T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr. and Zach Pascal) played in the game. 

Parris Campbell flashed his speed on a 37-yard first-quarter reception from Eason. The former second-round pick could be a factor in the passing game if he’s finally able to stay healthy. 

Tarik Black, Tyler Vaughns and Michael Strachan all averaged over 2.5 receiving yards per route run on 10-plus routes. 

Tight end

Farrod Green started the game at tight end, but he offered little as a pass-catcher. Green caught as many passes as he dropped (one) on his 18 routes. 

Rookie Kylen Granson had slightly more success as a receiver, notching two first-down receptions on 14 routes. 

Offensive line

Julie’n Davenport and Chris Reed started the game at left tackle and left guard, respectively, which is noteworthy given the injury situations surrounding Eric Fisher and Quenton Nelson. Sam Tevi started the game at right tackle for a resting Braden Smith

Reed was Indianapolis’ highest-graded offensive lineman, securing 80.0-plus marks both as a pass protector and a run blocker. 

Davenport earned a 91.0 run-blocking grade, but he did allow two quarterback pressures, both of which were hits. 

Defensive line

Isaac Rochell and Kemoko Turay were the only Colts defensive linemen with three or more pressures.

Kameron Cline was the highest-graded run defender along the defensive line (72.9 run-defense grade). 

Antwaun Woods, Andrew Brown, Al-Quadin Muhammad and Ben Banogu started up front with most of Indianapolis’ starters resting. 

Linebackers

Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke both sat out, leaving Matthew Adams and Zaire Franklin to start. 

Malik Jefferson, who spent the first two years of his career in Cincinnati before bouncing around to Cleveland, Los Angeles, Tennessee and later Indianapolis, had a strong day in coverage. He was targeted three times and allowed one reception for -2 yards, adding a pass breakup, as well.

Secondary

Anthony Chesley saw most of the slot snaps in the Colts' secondary (29). Chesley didn’t allow a reception on three slot targets, but he was bailed out by several errant passes. 

Rock Ya-Sin started the game at cornerback. He contributed to an incompletion with tight coverage in his limited action.


JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Quarterback

Despite Urban Meyer’s recent comments about the ongoing quarterback competition in Jacksonville, Trevor Lawrence started the preseason opener against Cleveland. 

Lawrence finished his two drives with one big-time throw to Marvin Jones and one turnover-worthy play. The latter was a fumble in the pocket that Lawrence ended up recovering.

Lawrence outperformed Gardner Minshew. Just 29% of Minshew’s passes were charted as accurate, and he came away with a 45.1 PFF grade on his 11 snaps.  

C.J. Beathard ended up looking like Jacksonville’s best quarterback. None of his targeted pass attempts were charted as uncatchable.  

Running back

James Robinson (seven snaps), Travis Etienne (five snaps) and Carlos Hyde (three snaps) all saw playing time with Lawrence on the field. Robinson recorded the bulk of the carries during those first two drives. 

Dare Ogunbowale was the only Jacksonville running back with more than three carries. The Jaguars passed on a league-high 78.5% of their offensive plays in the first week of the preseason. 

Nathan Cottrell, an undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech in 2020, was targeted four times on eight routes. Those targets resulted in three receptions for 16 yards and one first down. 

Wide receiver

Collin Johnson started at wide receiver alongside Jones and Laviska Shenault Jr. as D.J. Chark remains sidelined with a finger injury. 

Jones was Lawrence’s favorite target, and he rewarded that confidence by bringing in all three of his contested targets. 

Josh Hammond and Tavon Austin both averaged over three receiving yards per route run, combining for seven first downs receiving on 11 targets

Tight end

James O'Shaughnessy and Chris Manhertz started the game at tight end. 

Tim Tebow failed to make much of an impact on 16 offensive snaps. He earned just a 42.8 run-blocking grade (two snaps) and wasn’t targeted on any of his 13 routes.

Offensive line

The projected starters on the offensive line started the game with the exception of Andrew Norwell. That group allowed one pressure combined when they were together on 11 pass-blocking snaps. The pressure was a sack allowed by A.J. Cann at right guard. 

Ben Bartch, who started in place of Norwell, wasn’t beaten on 20 pass-blocking snaps. 

Rookie tackle Walker Little replaced Cam Robinson at left tackle and allowed just two pressures on 39 pass-blocking snaps. It was a continuation of a strong start to training camp

Defensive line

Jacksonville’s 15.6% pressure rate as a team was one of the lowest in the NFL during the preseason’s first week. They struggled to generate any pressure against a backup Cleveland offensive line. 

K’Lavon Chaisson was Jacksonville’s highest-graded pass-rusher (86.4 pass-rushing grade). Chaisson only recorded one pressure, but he notched two more pass-rush wins that didn’t end in pressure. He beat the left tackle quickly on a few snaps. 

Jacksonville controlled the line of scrimmage against Cleveland’s rushing attack. The Browns totaled -3 rushing yards before contact in the game.   

Linebackers

Damien Wilson started alongside Myles Jack as expected following the Joe Schobert trade. 

Dakota Allen had a rough outing. He missed a league-high four tackles in five attempts.

The only Jaguars linebacker to grade above 60.0 in the game was Shaquille Quarterman (60.8 overall). 

Secondary

Tre Herndon started the game opposite Shaquill Griffin at outside cornerback, rather than C.J. Henderson, Tyson Campbell or Sidney Jones

Campbell was the lone defensive back to allow a passing touchdown into his coverage — a 27-yard completion to Davion Davis down the sideline. 

Andre Cisco earned the highest overall grade in Jacksonville’s secondary (84.1 overall). A pass breakup while matched up in man coverage with Jordan Franks in the slot was the highlight of Cisco’s night.


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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Quarterback

Patrick Mahomes started the game to get some work with a newly revamped offensive line, but after a 10-yard carry and first down on their opening play by Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs went three-and-out, so Mahomes took a seat on the bench.

Chad Henne played 15 snaps and completed 6-of-9 attempts but gained just 37 yards on those plays, even if his interception wasn’t his fault. The pick came on a pass that should have been caught, though the ball location wasn’t ideal.

Anthony Gordon and Shane Buechele split the remaining 49 snaps almost equally and ended up with almost equal PFF grades of 53.4 and 54.7, respectively.

Running back

When Mahomes was in the game, Edwards-Helaire saw all four snaps and ended the game with 10 in total.

Darrel Williams was the next man up at the position, and he played just seven snaps before Jerick McKinnon, Elijah McGuire, Derrick Gore and Darwin Thompson took it the rest of the way. 

McKinnon led the team with 19 rushing yards on four carries, seven of which came after contact.

Wide receiver

Tyreek Hill played five passing snaps and saw one target — a jet sweep he took for 5 yards.

Demarcus Robinson — the other presumed starter — opened the game with the first-team offense and played 10 snaps, but he wasn’t targeted.

Daurice Fountain led the team in targets (six), catches (four) and yards (38), earning a 71.2 PFF receiving grade and raising his hand for a bigger role.

Tight end

Travis Kelce started the game and saw one target, catching a quick hitch from Mahomes for 4 yards.

Joe Fortson and fifth-round rookie Noah Gray led the team in passing snaps among all receivers, but Gray dropped his only target while Forston caught three of his five and graded much better across the board.

Offensive line

The new-look offensive line saw the expected left side of Orlando Brown Jr. and Joe Thuney, but the right side featured rookie sixth-rounder Trey Smith at right guard and Lucas Niang at right tackle. All five members of the starting line played 11 snaps, and Brown was the only member to surrender a pressure.

Prince Tega Wanogho, an intriguing sixth-round pick by the Eagles in 2020, had the best PFF grade among Chiefs linemen (85.8), as he dominated in the run game and allowed just one hurry across 24 pass-blocking snaps.

Austin Blythe lost ground on Creed Humphrey at the center position, playing three times as many snaps but surrendering two pressures and ending the game with a 26.7 PFF pass-blocking grade.

Defensive line

Second-year player Tershawn Wharton earned a 95.3 PFF pass-rushing grade thanks to four total pressures on just 15 pass-rushing snaps. He also had two defensive stops in the game. 

The Chris Jones position switch to edge rusher was on display during his 11 snaps, as just three came from an interior alignment. Jones may still be effective on the edge, but it does seem to play away from his strengths inside.

New addition Jarran Reed also played 11 snaps and was solid against the run, notching a hurry from one of his six pass-rushing snaps, as well.

Linebackers

Rookie second-round pick Nick Bolton got the start alongside Anthony Hitchens as Willie Gay Jr. sat out the game. Bolton played 20 snaps and made one defensive stop.

Ben Niemann was the third starting linebacker in base defense, and he played 10 snaps in total.

The depth players at linebacker were largely lit up, as Emmanuel Smith, Dorian O’Daniel and Riley Cole all earned 33.4 or worse PFF grades.

Secondary

L’Jarius Sneed picked up the way he left off during his impressive rookie campaign, allowing just one catch for 2 yards into his coverage as a starter. Sneed and Charvarius Ward started at cornerback with Daniel Sorensen and Tyrann Mathieu completing a familiar secondary.

Chris Lammons was one of the best-graded defenders in the game, earning a 90.1 coverage grade thanks to a pass breakup and allowing just eight yards on three targets.

Juan Thornhill led all defensive backs with 40 snaps but was beaten for a 34-yard gain that hurt his overall grade (58.4).


LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

Quarterback

The Raiders rested their starters and backup Marcus Mariota as well, so third-string quarterback Nathan Peterman played the whole game, notching 80 snaps and dropping back to pass 47 times. Peterman made three big-time throws (7.7% BTT rate) and two turnover-worthy plays (4.3%).

Case Cookus, meanwhile, saw one snap late in the game — a handoff to running back Bo Scarbrough

Running back

Undrafted rookie Trey Ragas got the start for the Raiders, playing 40 snaps in total and earning an impressive 78.8 overall PFF grade. He had 62 rushing yards, 44 of which came after contact. 

Fellow undrafted rookie B.J. Emmons was the next man up before Scarbrough finished out the game.

Wide receiver

Zay Jones and John Brown were the starting receivers, and neither player lasted longer than 13 snaps before taking their place on the bench. 

Keelan Doss led all receivers with 44 snaps, and Marcell Ateman was just behind with 37. Doss caught all six passes thrown his way while Ateman had a drop and brought in only two of five.

Slot receiver D.J. Turner led the team in targets (eight) and catches (seven) from 27 plays running a pass pattern.

Tight end

No Darren Waller meant Derek Carrier and Nick Bowers registered starts in a two tight-end set to open the game. 

Both players saw two targets and caught both. 

Matt Bushman and Alex Ellis were the other tight ends to see targets, as each player caught the only pass thrown his way.

Offensive line

First-round rookie Alex Leatherwood started at right tackle and played 23 snaps in the game. He struggled in pass protection, coughing up two pressures on 13 pass-blocking snaps and failed to stand out in the run game.

John Simpson saw 252 snaps of action last season and struggled, but he was much better across 61 snaps this week. He allowed two pressures, but they came on 42 pass-blocking snaps at left guard. He was a solid run blocker, as well.

In the battle at center, Nick Martin earned a slightly better overall grade than Andre James, who started the game. Both players were good in pass protection, but Martin was a bit better as a run-blocker.

Defensive line

Clelin Ferrell got the start at defensive end and was one of the best-graded players in the game in his 13 snaps. Ferrell had three total pressures from just 12 pass-rushing snaps.

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell (99) looks on during the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Allegiant Stadium. Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Darius Philon also had three total pressures from his interior alignment, notching a pressure on 33% of his pass-rushes and earning an 88.7 overall PFF grade.

The projected regular-season starters were all missing from this game.

Linebackers

Nick Kwiatkoski has been one of the Raiders' better linebackers since signing with the team, and he started this game, playing 10 snaps, nine of which were in coverage.

2020 undrafted rookie Javin White saw 12 snaps last season in the regular season and was on the field for 38 snaps as a starter in this game. He made two defensive stops and had a pass breakup on his way to an impressive 77.8 grade.

Secondary

Rookie safety Trevon Moehrig started alongside Johnathan Abram in this game, with Moehrig playing 17 snaps. He made one tackle but was otherwise relatively anonymous, lining up exclusively at free safety.

Damon Arnette started the game and had a chance to propel himself back up the depth chart but allowed a catch on the one target thrown his way, falling off a tackle on a crossing pattern to allow his man to pick up the first down.

Amik Robertson and Blidi Wreh-Wilson had the two best PFF coverage grades (84.4 and 83.1, respectively) of the cornerback group, combining to allow just 2 yards in coverage across their 22 coverage snaps.


LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Quarterback

Justin Herbert didn’t feature in the game, so Chase Daniel got the start, playing 38 snaps and having a relatively solid game. Daniel had one big-time throw without any catastrophic decisions against a backup Rams defense.

Easton Stick was the only other Chargers quarterback to play, attempting seven passes and completing all of them. Stick was pressured twice, and both pressures resulted in a sack.

Running back

Justin Jackson started the game but played just 10 snaps and split the time with the starters with Joshua Kelley, who played 28 snaps overall. Neither player particularly impressed.

Sixth-round rookie Larry Rountree III was the best-graded running back on the team, posting an 87.7 overall mark on his eight carries. Rountree averaged 7.9 yards per attempt and 4.9 yards after contact. He broke three tackles.

Darius Bradwell handled three carries and broke two tackles as the only other running back to see a carry. 

Wide receiver

Resting starters meant Jalen Guyton and rookie Josh Palmer were the starting receivers in the game. Palmer played 17 snaps but saw six targets, catching all six for 36 yards. Guyton lasted longer into the game but was featured less.

Those two receivers were the only two to see more than three targets.

No Chargers receiver dropped a pass in the game, with the only drop on offense coming from Kelley.

Tight end

Former XFL star Donald Parham got the start and played 24 total snaps. Parham saw two targets come his way, and he caught both of them for 31 yards, 12 of which came after the catch. Parham lined up in the slot and out wide on 14 of his 19 passing snaps.

Jared Cook did not play, but third-round rookie Tre’ McKitty played 13 snaps without being targeted.

Offensive line

First-round pick Rashawn Slater played 20 snaps, starting the game at left tackle and allowing no pressure on 12 pass-blocking snaps. This was Slater’s first football in over a year, and he looked very assured.

Slater was the only member of the expected starting unit to play in the game, and he played about half the snaps of the other four players who started against the Rams.

Defensive line

None of the expected interior starters along the defensive line played, as Joe Gaziano, Breiden Fehoko and Christian Covington started the game, while Uchenna Nwosu and Kyler Fackrell played on the edge.

The best-graded defensive lineman was Forrest Merrill, an undrafted free agent this year. Merrill made a couple of tackles and had a defensive stop on his way to an 84.0 overall PFF grade.

Linebackers

Kyzir White was one of the Chargers defenders with an extensive regular season resume to see action in this game, starting and playing 14 snaps. White had a 91.0 overall PFF grade thanks to three defensive stops.

Drue Tranquill was one of the best defenders of the 2019 preseason when he earned an 89.6 overall PFF grade. He notched a solid 70.7 grade in this game on 13 snaps as a starter.

Secondary

This was the first glimpse at second-round rookie Asante Samuel Jr., who started the game and played 23 snaps. Samuel was targeted three times, allowing a catch on each occasion for 34 total yards. He did make two defensive stops.

Kemon Hall played 44 snaps and earned a 90.9 overall PFF grade thanks in large part to forcing a fumble. He didn’t allow a catch all game and spent all but one of his snaps lined up in the slot or tight around the formation.

Nasir Adderley saw 23 snaps as a starter at free safety and wasn’t able to influence the game too heavily from his deep alignment. Adderley made a tackle and an assist and spent 17 of his snaps lined up deep off the ball.


LOS ANGELES RAMS

Quarterback

Devlin Hodges and Bryce Perkins led a subpar Rams passing offense in Week 1 (Matthew Stafford did not play). They combined for only one 10-plus-yard completion downfield.

Wide Receiver

Five Rams wide receivers saw ample action (J.J. Koski, Landon Akers, Tutu Atwell, Trishton Jackson and Jeremiah Haydel), but all eyes were on second-round rookie Atwell.

Atwell ran 18 routes and saw three targets. Only one ended up being a significant gain, which came on a play designed to give him an opportunity to make something happen after the catch. Atwell was motioned across the formation and ran a speed out, which he turned into a 20-yard gain.

Tight End

Brycen Hopkins led the tight end room in snaps played (33). He earned a lowly 45.5 PFF grade, though. Hopkins was a run-blocker for 19 of his snaps, and he failed to make a positive impact there.

Jacob Harris is a hybrid player who was asked to play inline (seven snaps), in the slot (five snaps) and out wide (11 snaps). All but one of his snaps on offense was a pass play, and Harris was targeted on 31.8% of those plays. Of his four receptions, one was contested, one was an explosive pass play and one featured a broken tackle after the grab. Harris also fumbled during the contest.

Running back

The Rams’ backfield is a question mark after Cam Akers’ season-ending injury. Darrell Henderson Jr. — the current RB1 — didn’t play in their first preseason game, but the next three backs on the depth chart saw action. 

Raymond Calais, Xavier Jones and Jake Funk each took five carries. Sixteen of their 19 runs resulted in a gain of four yards or fewer, with the longest being an eight-yard gain.

Offensive Line

In Sean McVay fashion, the Rams’ starting offensive line didn’t play a down, and the reserves were heavily shielded in pass protection due to scheme.

Undrafted rookie Jordan Meredith impressed. His 78.5 PFF grade led the Rams offensive linemen and was the third-best mark by a rookie guard.

Defensive Line

No Aaron Donald? No problem. Los Angeles’ fielded the seventh-highest-graded defensive line in the NFL this past week without the game-wrecker on the interior.

Undrafted rookie George Silvanic led the way in run defense. He earned the ninth-best run-defense grade by an interior defensive lineman during the first week of preseason but was later cut.

Linebacker

Three former undrafted rookies — Ernest Jones (2021), Derrick Moncrief (2020) and Christian Rozeboom (2020) — were the only linebackers to see the field for the Rams.

Jones and Moncrief posted below-average PFF grades — 53.8 and 29.0, respectively. Meanwhile, Rozeboom made a couple of nice plays against the run, evading a second-level block and coming down the backside of a wide zone run for a defensive stop. He finished with a 64.8 PFF grade.

Secondary

Only third-stringers and beyond played in the Rams’ secondary against the Chargers.

Brontae Harris played 31 coverage snaps on the outside and was targeted nine times. He allowed six catches for 37 yards en route to a 46.9 coverage grade.

On a more positive note, 2020 undrafted free agent J.R. Reed was the best performing defensive back. The safety earned an 83.3 coverage grade, including a third-down red-zone forced incompletion and a passing stop.


MIAMI DOLPHINS

Quarterback

Tua Tagovailoa drew the start and did a good job giving his receivers an opportunity to make plays, as just one of his 10 targeted passes was charted as uncatchable. Those passes weren’t all on the money, though. Five (50%) were deemed catchable but inaccurate.  

Tagovailoa completed a pass on all three of his pressured dropbacks (7.7 yards per attempt). 

Jacoby Brissett’s average time to throw of 3.6 seconds was nearly a full second higher than Tagovailoa’s (2.9 seconds). 

Running back

Malcolm Brown out-snapped Myles Gaskin, seven to two, across Miami’s first two drives, but Brown picked up just eight rushing yards on his nine carries in the game. He wasn’t given much of a chance before contact (-7 rushing yards before contact). 

Salvon Ahmed was the most efficient back in Miami’s backfield, recording 40 rushing yards on six carries and 31 receiving yards on two receptions, including a 23-yard touchdown reception on a wheel route in the second quarter.  

Wide receiver

DeVante Parker, Will Fuller V, Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns didn’t play in the game, leaving a starting trio of Jaylen Waddle, Mack Hollins and Jakeem Grant.

Waddle saw a relatively even split of snaps in the slot (10) and out wide (eight).

Lynn Bowden Jr. led all players at the position in routes run (22), receptions (four) and receiving yards (47). Only 11 of those yards came after the catch.

Tight end

Mike Gesicki made a splash to open the game with two receptions for 56 yards in the first quarter. He lined up in the slot on seven of his nine offensive snaps, which is something to monitor when Miami starts to incorporate more of its wide receivers. 

The Dolphins’ other tight ends combined for just four receptions and 31 receiving yards. None of those receptions went for first downs.

Durham Smythe and Chris Myarick both recorded 70.0-plus run-blocking grades.

Offensive line

The Dolphins started the game with Austin Jackson, Solomon Kindley, Michael Deiter, Robert Hunt and Jesse Davis from left to right. Rookie Liam Eichenberg missed the game with injury but has been working with the first team ahead of Kindley at left guard. 

Jackson’s struggles in pass protection from last season carried over to the preseason opener. He allowed five pressures and lost another three pass-blocking reps on 25 snaps. 

Neither of the starting center options — Deiter and Matt Skura — allowed a pressure on 15-plus pass-blocking snaps. 

Defensive line

Third-year defensive lineman Christian Wilkins played only 12 defensive snaps, but he had multiple highlights in that limited action. Wilkins forced his way into the backfield on a handful of runs and batted a Justin Fields pass. 

Shaquem Griffin and John Jenkins were the only two players along Miami’s front to record multiple pressures in the game.

Linebackers

The Dolphins used dime personnel (six defensive backs) on 29% of their defensive snaps, ranking third among all defenses in Week 1 of the preseason, which reduced the linebacker snaps overall. 

Jerome Baker played seven snaps over Miami’s first two drives, four more than any other linebacker. He ended the contest with just a 28.8 overall grade on 10 snaps.

Duke Riley made few mistakes in his Dolphins debut, resulting in an 84.2 grade that trailed only Benardrick McKinney (90.2) among his teammates. But McKinney’s grade came on just five snaps compared to Riley’s 44. 

Secondary

Neither of Miami’s two highly paid cornerbacks (Byron Jones and Xavien Howard) played in the preseason opener. Noah Igbinoghene and Nik Needham started the game outside. 

Igbinoghene and Needham both recorded coverage grades of at least 79.0 on 20-plus coverage snaps. They combined for three forced incompletions on eight targets. Both of Needham’s came on quick slant routes from the slot.  

True to the initial depth chart, Jason McCourty recorded more snaps at safety than Jevon Holland early in the game. Holland ultimately earned a solid 67.3 overall grade on 33 defensive snaps.


MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Quarterback

Jake Browning started in QB1 Kirk Cousins’ stead. The backup posted a 38.4 PFF grade. An interception on an out route that ended up a touchdown for Denver was the biggest reason for the low mark.

Third-round rookie Kellen Mond took over for Browning and also had few positives to speak of. He was rattled by pressure and threw a few too many uncatchable balls. In the end, he posted a 53.5 passing grade.

Wide Receiver

Minnesota trotted out only first- and second-year wide receivers in its first preseason contest, and none did anything noteworthy. Fifth-round rookier Ihmir Smith-Marsette got the most run of any receiver but was the one to struggle the most. He dropped one of his six targets and didn’t catch any of his three contested opportunities. Smith-Marsette also missed a couple of run-blocking assignments.

Tight End

No Irv Smith Jr. resulted in Zach Davidson (36 snaps), Brandon Dillon (36 snaps) and Shane Zylstra (11 snaps) seeing the field.

The three combined for seven targets but didn’t get the help they needed from the quarterback position, as just one was catchable.

Davidson was a pass-blocker on only two occasions and gave up a quarterback hit.

Running back

Undrafted rookie running back Asim Rose managed to find some success across his 25 carries despite performing behind an underwhelming Minnesota offensive line. He was difficult to bring down on first contact. Seventy-four of his 100 rushing yards came after contact — the second-most of any running back in preseason Week 1.

Offensive Line

The Vikings didn’t play their already shaky first-team offensive line in this contest, so it shouldn’t come to a surprise that many in their group faltered. Six of the nine linemen earned a sub-60.0 single-game PFF grade.

Wyatt Davis was among the bright spots there. The third-round pick was the second-highest-graded Minnesota offensive lineman of the week and finished tied for fifth at the position this past week in positively graded run blocks.

Defensive Line

Minnesota’s defensive front was a non-factor in 2020. The first-team unit was on the bench for this game, but the reserves underwhelmed.

The Vikings’ defensive line was the second-lowest-graded unit of the week. 

The group notched only two pressures, neither of which was a sack or a hit.

Linebacker

Minnesota’s linebackers were night and day against the run and pass. The group was the second-highest-graded unit against the run but the fifth-lowest-graded in coverage.

Troy Dye was the top performer against the run, notching three run stops and an 80.8 run-defense grade.

Secondary

Plenty went wrong for Minnesota in the first preseason game of the 2021 season, but the secondary may have topped the list. The Vikings finished last among all 32 secondaries in coverage grade. 

Cornerback Cameron Dantzler played only nine coverage snaps but managed to give up an 80-yard touchdown.

Dylan Mabin also struggled on the outside with three catches allowed on four targets for 28 yards and a touchdown.

Kris Boyd was really the only positive of the group. He played 14 coverage snaps on the outside and didn’t allow a catch on either. He ended up with a forced incompletion and a passing stop en route to an 81.5 coverage grade.


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Quarterback

Mac Jones outperformed Cam Newton in their first game action this season, earning a 79.5 PFF grade to Newton’s mark of 65.2.

Jones’ lone big-time throw of the night — a sideline shot to Kristian Wilkerson — fell incomplete against tight coverage. 

Newton was relatively accurate on his few attempts, but his passes went just 0.7 yards downfield on average. Jones, by comparison, had an aDOT of 7.6.

Neither quarterback recorded a turnover-worthy play.  

Running back

Rhamondre Stevenson, the Patriots’ fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma, showed some breakaway ability for a 240-plus pound running back on his 91-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

J.J. Taylor saw plenty of run in the receiving back role behind James White, catching five passes on 11 routes for 31 yards.

Projected starter Damien Harris averaged over 3.0 yards after contact per attempt on four carries.

Wide receiver

Kristian Wilkerson was the focal point of the passing offense, drawing eight targets on 21 routes. No other Patriots wide receiver finished with more than three targets. 

N’Keal Harry eluded one defender for a four-yard first down reception. That was his only target of the game on a team-high 23 routes. 

New England Patriots receiver Kristian Wilkerson (17) runs against Washington Football Team defensive end Bunmi Rotimi (57), inside linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk (59), and safety Darrick Forrest (48). Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Nine of Jakobi Meyers’ 11 routes came in the slot, but his lone reception came when lined up out wide (11 yards). 

Tight end

Without Hunter Henry playing, the Patriots ran 12 personnel on just 15% of their offensive snaps. Expect that to increase in the regular season. 

Jonnu Smith was the only New England tight end targeted. He caught one of his two targets in the game, picking up 16 yards on a shallow crossing route where he made several defenders miss.     

Offensive line

New England’s starting offensive line actually saw a reasonably high number of snaps. Shaq Mason led the way in PFF grade (87.2) on 21 offensive snaps.

Yodny Cajuste was the only New England offensive lineman to allow multiple pressures (three), and he recorded just seven pass-blocking snaps. All of them came at right tackle.

The Patriots averaged 2.2 rushing yards before contact per attempt (fifth among offenses last week).

Defensive line

Matthew Judon earned a 92.7 PFF grade in his New England debut, highlighted by a decisive inside win and quarterback hit against Charles Leno Jr. in the first quarter.  

Second-year edge defender Josh Uche won four of his 12 pass-rushing snaps (33%).

Ronnie Perkins and Bill Murray both recorded four pressures on 21 pass-rushing snaps. That 19.1% pressure rate was tied for fifth among all players with 20-plus pass-rushing snaps.   

Linebackers

Kyle Van Noy played primarily off-ball after a career year as an edge rusher with New England in 2019. Sixteen of his 25 defensive snaps came in the box, and he had just four pass-rushing snaps. 

Harvey Langi had a rough outing in coverage (29.5 coverage grade), but he did earn a position-high 75.6 PFF grade against the run. His nine total tackles tied for fourth-most of any defender last week.  

Secondary

New England operated in base defense (four defensive backs) on 47.5% of their defensive snaps. They did so a league-low 4.7% of the time during the 2020 regular season.    

Joejuan Williams and Myles Bryant led the secondary in snaps played and PFF grade. Williams picked up an interception and a forced incompletion on three targets, while Bryant forced another two incompletions on his three targets.

Kyle Dugger’s snap distribution was relatively evenly split between the slot (nine snaps), box (seven snaps) and deep (eight snaps) alignments.


NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Quarterback

Taysom Hill got the start over Jameis Winston, but both took the same number of dropbacks for the game and performed admirably. While they each tossed an interception, neither were their faults. Hill’s was the result of a stopped route. It was a tad too far in front, but that’s not a clear turnover-worthy play. As for Winston, his came on a deep ball that was deflected into the hands of a defensive back. The two finished with PFF grades of 79.8 (Hill) and 73.5 (Winston).

Rookie Ian Book also threw a pick on an underthrown deep ball. That led him to a 54.8 passing grade for the game.

Wide Receiver

Seven wide receivers got plenty of work for the Saints, with Marquez Callaway leading the way. He started the game and was Taysom Hill’s top target on the opening drive, seeing three targets on the first five pass plays. The duo took what the defense gave them and turned two of those three into plays of 15-plus yards.

Tight End

New Orleans’ top four tight ends on the depth chart — Adam Trautman, Nick Vannett, Garrett Griffin and Ethan Wolf — all got some snaps in preseason Week 1, but the top performer was wide-receiver-turned-tight-end Juwan Johnson.

Johnson isn’t an inline blocker, but he proved to be a receiving threat. He turned both of his targets into 30-plus-yard gains, including one where he forced a couple of missed tackles after the catch.

Running back

Three different Saints running backs played double-digit snaps in Alvin Kamara’s absence: Tony Jones Jr. (23 snaps), DeVonta Freeman (19 snaps) and Latavius Murray (15 snaps). The RB2 and RB3 — Freeman and Murray — both had rough days ending in sub-40.0 PFF grades. Jones, on the other hand, had a fantastic outing.

Jones, a 2020 undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame, earned a 79.5 PFF grade. He turned four of his seven runs into gains of 10-plus yards and was targeted five times on seven routes. He generated 5.43 yards per route run.

Offensive Line

New Orleans had one of the best offensive lines of preseason Week 1 despite its star tackle duo — Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk — not playing.

The team finished second among the 32 franchises in offensive line pass-block grade. On true pass sets, the unit ranked first.

Cesar Ruiz, a 2020 first-rounder, and Landon Young, a 2021 sixth-rounder, tied for the highest PFF grade in the group (78.7).

Defensive Line

There were a wide range of outcomes along the defensive front. Starters Marcus Davenport and David Onyemata were the top performers, posting PFF grades of 92.1 (Davenport) and 88.6 (Onyemata).

Edge defender Tano Kpassagnon was the surprise of the group, as he notched a PFF grade (85.1) below Davenport and Onyemata. Things turned south for the unit after that.

Several players struggled, especially Carl Granderson, Shy Tuttle and Noah Spence. Those three posted sub-40.0 PFF grades.

Linebacker

There were several promising outings from the Saints linebackers, starting with 2020 third-rounder Zack Baun. He earned an 80.0-plus grade against the run, as a pass-rusher and in coverage, leading to a 93.2 overall grade that led the position for the week (minimum 15 snaps).

After Baun was 2019 seventh-rounder Kaden Elliss, who earned an 84.3 PFF grade.

Secondary

The two highest-graded players in the Saints’ secondary were none other than Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and rookie Eric Burrell. Both players didn’t give up a first down in coverage, and each forced a passing stop.

Interestingly, Brian Poole divided his time between the slot and outside. He has thrived at the former position in the NFL, and that was the case against Baltimore. Poole earned a 67.4 coverage grade on his 10 slot coverage snaps. On his 13 outside snaps, his coverage grade fell to 41.4.

Paulson Adebo’s struggles (42.4 coverage grade when on the outside) and the failed experiment of veteran Prince Amukamara, who was cut after earning a 40.7 outside coverage grade, makes New Orleans’ cornerback situation more frightening than before.


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NEW YORK GIANTS

Quarterback

Daniel Jones didn’t play, so the start went to journeyman backup Mike Glennon. Glennon played 18 snaps and only accounted for one passing first down.

Clayton Thorson played the remainder of the game but suffered a concussion on a safety that ended the involvement of the Giants offense with 1.46 left on the clock in the fourth quarter. Thorson had fared even worse than Glennon but had a hyper-aggressive 16.4-yard average depth of target.

Wide Receiver

Some of the team’s biggest names — Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard and rookie Kadarius Toney — did not play, leaving Darius Slayton, Dante Pettis and CJ Board to start.

David Sills led the team in targets (five) and receiving yards (49) while tying for the lead in catches (three), earning an overall PFF grade of 73.0. Sills spent all but one of his snaps lined up out wide.

Tight End

No Evan Engram or Kyle Rudolph meant that the top tight end on the depth chart to play in the game was Kaden Smith. He earned a below-average grade, as did almost all of the Giants tight ends, but none were heavily featured in the passing game.

Nakia Griffin-Stewart earned the best run-blocking grade of the group, a 71.1 mark.

Running Back

As long as Saquon Barkley is still working his way back to the starting lineup, Devontae Booker is the guy, but he only played 11 snaps and the Giants used five different running backs in this game.

All five of them earned overall PFF grades between 45.0 and 53.1 despite the team rushing for 105 yards on just 16 carries. The reason for those pedestrian grades is that the run blocking was excellent for much of the game.

Offensive line

Six different blockers — including three of the offensive linemen who started the game — earned PFF run-blocking grades above 70.0, with 2020 first-round pick Andrew Thomas leading the way with a mark of 83.6.

Thomas and Matt Peart each started the game and played 18 snaps, earning PFF run-blocking grades above 80.0 as they got the better of their Jets assignments on the ground.

They each struggled more in pass protection, with Peart surrendering a sack and neither player grading north of 60.0.

The interior still looks like a major question mark with center Nick Gates earning a PFF pass-blocking grade of 9.9.

Defensive Line

None of the projected regular-season starters were playing in this game, but some of the players handed opportunities earned excellent PFF grades, none better than veteran defensive tackle B.J. Hill (89.6 overall). Hill graded well in all facets of play.

David Moa played 41 snaps and earned an overall PFF grade of 92.0 thanks to a team-leading four defensive stops. 

Second-round rookie edge rusher Azeez Ojulari started the game but didn’t register any pressure on six pass-rushing snaps before his day was done.

Linebacker

Reggie Ragland and Tae Crowder started at linebacker, with Ragland seeing 34 total snaps and struggling badly in coverage. He saw five passes thrown into his coverage, with four of them being caught for 47 yards.

While Ragland struggled, one of the best performances in the game came from Carter Coughlin, who parlayed 24 defensive snaps into an overall PFF grade of 91.8, with four defensive stops, a forced fumble, a sack and a hurry.

T.J. Brunson also forced a fumble to spike his grade skywards in limited snaps, one of three the Giants defense forced in the game.

Secondary

Another unit resting the starters, with Isaac Yiadom the senior man in terms of NFL experience. Yiadom saw six targets, but only one of them was caught for nine yards.

Safety Quincy Wilson, a former second-round pick of the Colts, had a solid game, splitting his time between free and strong safety and doing little wrong overall.


NEW YORK JETS

Quarterback

No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson drew the start for New York, and he looked to be in control of the offense. Wilson completed 6-of-9 attempts for 63 yards with several first-down passes that required good timing and anticipation.

All three Jets quarterbacks got the ball out with an average time to throw of 2.4 seconds or less. 

Only three of James Morgan’s nine pass attempts were charted as accurate.  

Running back

Tevin Coleman missed the preseason opener due to personal reasons, which meant Ty Johnson (seven snaps) and Michael Carter (four snaps) split time on the opening drive.

The rookie Carter was the highest-graded running back on the Jets offense (65.5 overall). All 22 of his rushing yards came after contact, and he caught his lone target for nine yards. 

Johnson had two carries of 10 or more yards but ended the game with just 33 rushing yards on nine attempts.    

Wide receiver

The Jets began the game with Keelan Cole, Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder in the slot at wide receiver. Elijah Moore sat out with a quad injury. 

Davis was targeted on each of his first four routes, turning those targets into two receptions for 18 yards. 

Denzel Mims delivered a much-needed big performance after a slow start to training camp. He recorded a team-high 51 receiving yards and forced two missed tackles after the catch on a third-quarter reception. 

Tight end

The Jets played Chris Herndon, Tyler Kroft and Ryan Griffin each five snaps on the first drive. Former tight end and current fullback Trevon Wesco also logged five snaps on the opening drive. 

The Jets ran a league-high 47 offensive plays with two or more tight ends on the field. 

Herndon led all Jets tight ends in PFF grade (62.0), though none made a large impact receiving. Kroft led the way with 13 receiving yards on his lone reception.  

Offensive line

Alijah Vera-Tucker missed New York’s preseason opener with a pectoral injury, but the rest of the starting offensive line played. 

The starting interior offensive line (Dan Feeney, Connor McGovern and Greg Van Roten) combined for a 12.9 pass-blocking grade with four pressures and an additional four pass-block losses in 29 combined snaps.

Van Roten delivered a much stronger performance in the run game (89.1 run-blocking grade).  

Mekhi Becton and Morgan Moses were not responsible for a pressure allowed in nine pass-blocking snaps each. 

Defensive line

The only projected Jets starter along the defensive line who didn’t play was Quinnen Williams, who was on the PUP list. 

Free-agent addition Sheldon Rankins looked healthy in limited action, quickly beating Kenny Wiggins and Nick Gates on first-quarter pass rushes. 

Edge defender Bryce Huff got pressure off of right tackle three times in his 14 pass-rushing snaps, two of which resulted in sacks.     

Linebackers

C.J. Mosley and Jarrad Davis started the game at linebacker for New York. Mosley started the game with a pass breakup on a throw up the middle. He finished with an 89.5 overall grade on 11 defensive snaps. 

It was a strong showing for New York’s linebackers as a unit. Their 89.4 overall grade collectively ranked second among all defenses in the opening week of the preseason.

Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen — converted college safeties — both played well against the Giants. Sherwood finished the game with an 82.3 PFF grade, while Nasirildeen came in at 69.7.    

Secondary

Javelin Guidry drew the start as the nickel with Bryce Hall and Blessuan Austin outside. Marcus Maye and Lamarcus Joyner started the game at safety. 

Guidry delivered a strong performance in the contested slot role. He broke up the only pass that targeted him on a first-quarter slant route. 

Joyner played primarily free safety after spending the majority of his time with the Las Vegas Raiders in the slot. Ten of Joyner’s 11 defensive snaps in the preseason opener came in deep alignments. 

Brandin Echols, a sixth-round rookie cornerback out of Kentucky, also notched a pass breakup late in the third quarter on a downfield pass. His only other target in 12 coverage snaps resulted in an eight-yard completion.


PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Quarterback

Jalen Hurts started the game but played only 10 snaps with the starters before taking a seat on the bench. In those 10 snaps, there was a really nice touch pass to tight end Dallas Goedert over the coverage of linebacker Devin Bush. He also missed on what could have been a huge play to speedster Quez Watkins down the left sideline.

Joe Flacco’s numbers (178 yards and a touchdown from 10 completions) look fantastic, but that’s because they are inflated from a quick screen to Watkins that the receiver took 79 yards to the house. Overall, Flacco did little to suggest that Hurts should fear for his job unless he plays his way to the bench.

Nick Mullens earned a passer rating of 0.0, and his PFF grade (30.3) wasn’t much better.

Wide Receiver

Watkins put up the biggest play of the game, a 79-yard touchdown that showed lightning-quick speed. His day could have been even better if Hurts had managed to connect with him on a pass earlier in the game where he had gotten past his man down the sideline.

Jalen Reagor flashed some slick route running on one out-pattern for a first down but also undid the good work with a dropped pass and ended up with an overall PFF grade of just 49.8

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside played 22 snaps but saw just one target.

Tight End

Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz started the game in a two-tight end set but played a combined total of just 12 snaps before exiting the game. Goedert caught one nice 34-yard pass from Hurts in that time, while Ertz caught one short pass and dropped another one. 

Richard Rodgers caught both passes thrown his way, one of which was contested, for a PFF grade of 91.2. Rodgers was a star in limited snaps last season for the team and could be more than just a flash in the pan if called upon.

Running Back

With no Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard was the starting back, playing only five snaps. His best play came picking up a blitz, keeping his quarterback clean when other backs might have blown the play.

Kenneth Gainwell led the team in snaps and also overall PFF grade (73.2). He had just two carries for 14 yards on the ground and used his receiving skills to add another 16 yards from two catches as a receiver.

Jason Huntley led the team with just four carries.

Offensive line

Jordan Mailata started and is doing everything in his power to show he deserves to be the starting left tackle going forward. He played 10 snaps, eight of which were pass blocking, and didn’t allow any pressure.

Nate Herbig played 28 snaps as he moves position to center after playing guard for the team before now, and had a solid enough game. He didn’t allow any pressure and had average PFF grades across the board.

Former Army standout Brett Toth had a decent day at the office despite being beaten for a sack. That was the only pressure Toth allowed from 25 pass-blocking snaps.

Defensive Line

The starting defensive line all played in this game, but they each saw a maximum of eight snaps before giving way to the second team. Neither Fletcher Cox nor Brandon Graham registered any pressure. Derek Barnett and Javon Hargrave both did.

Three different defensive linemen — Tarron Jackson, Marlon Tuipulotu and Raequan Williams — each played more than 50 snaps in the game. They combined for one pressure and two defensive stops, and none of the three earned a PFF grade above 54.0.

Third-round rookie Milton Williams flashed impressive pass-rushing prowess, long-arming a Steelers offensive lineman for a hurry and showing why he was such a well-thought-of prospect by many at draft time.

Linebacker

Seventh-round rookie Patrick Johnson played 46 snaps and was heavily involved in the game. He notched four defensive stops, missed one tackle and earned an impressive PFF coverage grade of 79.1.

Eric Wilson and Alex Singleton started the game as the linebackers. Wilson played the same eight snaps as most of the defensive starters before leaving the game, but he missed a tackle in that time. Singleton played for 19 in total.

Secondary

With the Eagles opening in nickel defense, Steven Nelson was the second starting cornerback alongside Darius Slay while Avonte Maddox covered the slot. The trio all left the field with the rest of the starters.

Free safety Elijah Riley was the highest-graded Eagles defender in the game (92.1 overall). He played almost exclusively at free safety and recorded an interception along with two tackles.


PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Quarterback

The narrative has been that Dwayne Haskins (80.5 PFF grade) outperformed Mason Rudolph (81.9 PFF grade), but both earned 80-plus passing grades against Philadelphia. 

Rudolph’s and Haskins’ profiles were fairly similar against the Eagles. Both recorded an average time to throw of 2.5 seconds, and Haskins pushed the ball slightly further downfield on average (7.1 aDOT) than Rudolph (6.4 aDOT). 

Neither quarterback produced a turnover-worthy play in the game. 

Running back

Pittsburgh’s running backs had more room to operate than they did in the HOF game. The Steelers averaged 2.0 yards more before contact per attempt against the Eagles. 

Najee Harris forced two missed tackles on his two rushing attempts, both of which came on a 6-yard run in the first quarter.

Pete Guerriero made the most of his nine offensive snaps, earning an 85.6 PFF grade. 

Wide receiver

Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster all played nine or 10 offensive snaps. 

Johnson and Smith-Schuster both caught all three of their targets (41 yards for Johnson and 22 for Smith-Schuster), while Claypool wasn’t targeted in the game. 

Rico Bussey Jr. caught two of his three contested targets. He was one of 10 wide receivers with multiple contested catches this week.   

Tight end

2021 second-round pick Pat Freiermuth was a non-factor in the passing game, catching his lone target for 6 yards on 16 routes run. 

Freiermuth’s 46.2 run-blocking grade was also the lowest of any Steelers’ tight end. 

Kevin Rader pulled in a nice 15-yard reception over the middle of the field from Haskins, the highlight for Pittsburgh at the tight end position. 

Offensive line

The offensive line did a good job collectively of getting push in the run game. Nine different offensive linemen recorded run-blocking grades above 70.0, led by Kevin Dotson (92.5). 

Dotson should have regained his claim on the starting left guard job. He clearly outperformed Rashaad Coward (59.4 PFF grade). 

Dotson, B.J. Finney, Chaz Green, Dan Moore Jr. and J.C. Hassenauer all allowed 0 pressures on 20-plus pass-blocking snaps.

Moore, a fourth-round rookie out of Texas A&M, has been impressive in each of his first two appearances. He has an 82.1 overall grade so far this preseason. 

Defensive line

Quincy Roche won two of his six pass-rushing snaps and took advantage of a collapsing pocket for a half-sack in the fourth quarter. Roche has an impressive 20.8% pass-rush win rate this preseason (fifth among rookies with 20-plus snaps).

Alex Highsmith recorded two hits on just 10 pass-rushing snaps, continuing to look like a player on the verge of a second-year breakout. 

Linebackers

Devin Bush, Robert Spillane and Ulysees Gilbert combined to allow 92 yards in coverage in just 42 defensive snaps. Bush was beaten early in the game by Dallas Goedert for a big gain. 

Miles Killebrew was the highest-graded Steelers linebacker (66.5) to see at least 10 defensive snaps.

Secondary

Justin Layne bounced back nicely from the Hall of Fame Game with an interception and tight coverage on another target that resulted in an incompletion.

Safety Terrell Edmunds saw a lot of action in the slot early (12 total snaps lined up in slot). Arthur Maulet led all players in slot snaps (20).

The recently signed Lafayette Pitts made one of the biggest plays of the game when he undercut a route up the seam for a fourth-quarter interception.


SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Quarterback

Third overall pick Trey Lance had one of the best highlight plays of the week. He showed off his big arm and connected on a deep ball that resulted in an 80-yard score. Lance looked like a raw rookie from then on, though He was late on some passes and showed poor awareness. Lance threw two interceptable passes and nearly lost the ball on a strip-sack. None ended up going into the hands of the defense, but those mistakes still show up in the PFF grading system — hence why his overall mark ended up at 48.8.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receiver

Starting receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk saw some action for a handful of plays, including at least one target for each.

Samuel got the ball on the first play of the game on a rollout, and his after-the-catch ability shined as usual with a missed tackle forced and nine extra yards.

Aiyuk was a little less fortunate, as he dropped one of his two targets.

Jauan Jennings got a couple of routes in with Jimmy Garoppolo to start the game and proceeded to play deep into the contest (24 total routes). He ended up catching only one pass, but it was a 26-yard gain.

Tight End

George Kittle didn’t take the field, but there was still plenty to monitor within the 49ers’ tight end room, including wide-receiver-turned-tight-end Jordan Matthews. He was tasked with staying back in pass protection just once, and he faltered. As a receiver, Matthews churned out 14 yards after the catch and broke a couple of tackles on his lone reception.

Joshua Perkins was a productive player on only five routes. He managed three receptions on four targets, headlined by a contested grab and a broken tackle after the catch.

Running back

Along with Trey Lance’s debut, many eyes were also on rookie Trey Sermon. He saw work early on in the game and finished with 20 total snaps. Sermon’s longest run on his nine carries was five yards. He did catch a couple of passes and broke one tackle.

Offensive Line

It was a volatile night for the San Francisco offensive line. Four of the 12 linemen posted pass-block grades above 80.0, but that was quickly negated by a 0.0 mark from rookie Aaron Banks, a 20.8 mark from Corbin Kaufusi and 48.4 mark from Shon Coleman.

Overall, the group allowed more quick pressure than any line in the league last week. Trey Lance was sacked three times within 2.0 seconds of the snap, the most of the week.

Colton McKivitz played a role in that poor pass blocking but made up for it in the run game. He earned a 92.9 run-block grade and tied for second in total positively graded run blocks.

Defensive Line

Two San Francisco defensive linemen stuck out: Edge defenders Arden Key and Eddie Yarbrough. They each notched grades above 73.0 against the run and as pass-rushers, leading to 85.0-plus overall marks.

Still, six of the 11 defensive linemen to play earned sub-55.0 PFF grades.

Linebacker

Jonas Griffith and Elijah Sullivan — two undrafted free agents from the 2020 and 2021 classes, respectively — stole the show among the 49ers’ linebackers.

Griffith earned a 77.6 PFF grade, with his best play coming in coverage. The former Indiana State Sycamore forced an incompletion while dropping back into coverage and allowed only four yards on the day.

Sullivan earned an 81.1 PFF grade, with his best play also coming in coverage. He played under control and came up with a couple of clutch passing stops when Kansas City tried to get its running backs involved in the passing game.

Secondary

Fifth-round rookie corner Deommodore Lenoir was one of the secret superstars of the week. His 80.3 coverage grade finished as a top-10 mark in preseason Week 1. He allowed only one catch for nine yards on five targets, featuring an interception on a heady play where he quickly grabbed a bobbled ball. And on none of those five targets was the receiver deemed open.

Safety Jared Mayden also had himself a good night, recording a 76.1 coverage grade, allowing zero first downs and making a couple of passing stops.


SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Quarterback

Geno Smith, Sean Mannion and Alex McGough all saw near-equal opportunities — with 11, 11 and 12 dropbacks, respectively. And all three performed at nearly the same level as their PFF grades slotted in within two grading points of each other.

Smith suffered a concussion that will keep him out of preseason Week 2.

Wide Receiver

Of the six wide receivers to run 10 routes, none recorded a receiving grade above 65.0.

With D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and second-round rookie D’Wayne Eskridge all not playing, undrafted rookies Cade Johnson, Connor Wedington and Travis Toivonen were in the spotlight. 

Johnson was the only one to make a notable play. He turned one of his five targets into a first down.

Tight End

The top four tight ends on Seattle’s depth chart didn’t log a snap in the preseason outing. That left the door open for Cam Sutton and Dominick Wood-Anderson to make an impression, but neither did so. Sutton (28 snaps) earned a 53.7 PFF grade, while Wood-Anderson (26 snaps) earned a 29.7 PFF grade after dropping two passes.

Running back

With no Chris Carson or Rashaad Penny, four different backs saw game action for Seattle: Alex Collins (17 snaps), DeeJay Dallas (12 snaps), Josh Johnson (10 snaps) and Cameron Scarlett (eight snaps). 

Out of that group, the only big play was courtesy of Dallas. He turned a fourth-down flare into a 43-yard touchdown. 

The four backs formed the third-lowest-graded rushing attack of the week.

Offensive Line

Center Brad Lundblade was the top performer of this group, which featured no first-team starters. The 2018 undrafted free agent finished with an 83.3 PFF grade and multiple big-time blocks.

Rookie tackle Stone Forsythe showed some promise with his performance in the run game. He earned a 73.9 grade in that facet.

Defensive Line

Edge defender Alton Robinson stood out in run defense. He posted an 88.4 grade in that facet, the best among edge defenders. And Darrell Taylor shined against the pass, blowing up a couple of plays in coverage for passing stops and also winning 25% of his pass-rush reps. 

L.J. Collier, a 2019 first-round pick, still has yet to show much to get excited about. He played most of the game for Seattle but produced poorly in both facets en route to a 49.6 PFF grade.

Linebacker

Seahawks star Bobby Wagner didn’t take the field in this contest, but youngsters Jordyn Brooks, Ben Burr-Kirven and Cody Barton all played exceptionally well. 

Burr-Kirven earned a strong 81.9 run-defense grade, Brooks posted an admirable 83.5 coverage grade and Barton recorded a couple of sacks on blitzes. 

Secondary

Tre Flowers and Ahkello Witherspoon — two important cornerbacks for Seattle — played a healthy amount. Both earned sub-60.0 coverage grades on their 18 such snaps. 

Undersized rookie Tre Brown got an opportunity to show he’s capable of hanging on the outside at the NFL level, but it didn’t go according to plan. He earned a 55.5 PFF grade on his 19 outside coverage snaps, allowing all three of his targets to be caught for 25 yards.


TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Quarterback

Second-round rookie Kyle Trask had some of the worst accuracy and efficiency numbers of the week, but we must give him the benefit of the doubt on a couple of throws. The former Florida Gator threw a couple of big-time go balls that fell incomplete. That was good enough to even out his PFF grade to 71.3 for the night. Still, his 28.6% accurate pass rate is a concern, even with his 14.0-yard average depth of target.

Wide Receiver

Six wide receivers ran 15-plus routes for the Buccaneers on Saturday: Tyler Johnson, Travis Jonsen, Scotty Miller, Josh Pearson, Jaydon Mickens and Jaelon Darden. Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Antonio Brown started the game but collectively saw one target. That went to Brown, which ended up being dropped.

Johnson, Miller and Darden were with the second team. Darden was the leader of the group in PFF grade, as he took two screens for 19 total yards (one featuring a broken tackle).

Tight End

Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard both got in for a handful of snaps to start the game. Gronkowski didn’t see a target, but Howard reeled in a 15-plus-yard reception on one of his three routes.

Tanner Hudson — a 2019 preseason darling — got the brunt of the workload after that and was an impactful receiver. Hudson was targeted on six of 19 routes and picked up 2.53 yards per route run. One of his four catches resulted in a 15-plus-yard gain and another was contested.

Running back

New Buccaneer Giovanni Bernard took the field for a few routes on the first two series] and made a couple of impact plays. He saw two targets on four routes, both of which were first downs.

Five other backs saw the field at some point for Tampa Bay, but it was Ke’Shawn Vaughn who played more than anyone (27 snaps). He, however, had a rough outing. Only one of his 11 runs went for five or more yards. He also dropped one of his three targets.

Offensive Line

It was a rough go for most of Tampa Bay’s offensive linemen, including the starting unit. The five starters played six snaps and all but one (Ali Marpet) managed to lose a rep.

Brad Seaton, a 2017 seventh-round pick, finished as the highest-graded offensive lineman (73.6).

Overall, the Buccaneers’ offensive line allowed the sixth-worst pressure rate of the week and tied for last in sacks plus hits allowed (seven).

Defensive Line

Tampa Bay’s defensive line did one of the best jobs at stopping the run this past week. The group combined for the second-highest-graded run-defense grade in the league and allowed -0.33 EPA per run against the Bengals.

It was hit or miss on the pass-rush side of things, but the biggest positive was first-round rookie Joe Tryon. He showed off explosiveness and a violent playstyle with three wins on 10 pass-rush snaps and a 77.8 pass-rush grade.

Linebacker

Lavonte David played only six snaps, but he was one of the best players on the field, forcing a fumble against the run.

Headlining the group was 2017 undrafted free agent Joe Jones, who has less than 200 career combined snaps in the preseason and regular season. He had the performance of his career, earning a 93.0 PFF grade. He intercepted a poorly thrown ball and took it to the house for six points while also forcing a passing stop.

Secondary

The Week 1 starters played only a few coverage snaps against Cincinnati. Jamel Dean was really the only noteworthy performer, but not necessarily in a good way. His coverage grade suffered due to a third-down penalty in the red zone.

The biggest takeaway from the rest of the group was the performance of undrafted rookie Lawrence White. He posted the highest coverage grade in Tampa Bay’s secondary (71.6) and attacked a slide concept nicely for a passing stop.


TENNESSEE TITANS

Quarterback

Logan Woodside started the game at quarterback for Tennessee and was accurate as a passer. Sixty-seven percent of his passes were charted as accurate in the game, seventh among quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts in preseason Week 1. 

Woodside was under pressure on seven of his 18 dropbacks in the game. The offense struggled on those plays. Woodside completed just two of four attempts for nine yards while taking three sacks. 

Matt Barkley’s average depth of target on his nine pass attempts was 16.1 yards downfield. 

Running back

Darrynton Evans started the game while Derrick Henry sat out. Evans showed some nice burst on his first carry — a 15-yard gain — but he left the game shortly after with a knee injury. 

Mekhi Sargent and Brian Hill both forced three missed tackles on the ground, but neither cleared 4.0 yards per carry. 

Tennessee running backs were non-factors as receivers. They combined for two receptions for eight yards on 19 routes. 

Wide receiver

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Marcus Johnson and Chester Rogers saw most of the early work with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones sitting out. 

Mason Kinsey had success from the slot, catching all four of his receptions for 51 yards on 16 routes inside. 

Tight end

Miller Forristall earned an 81.7 run-blocking grade against Atlanta, the highest of any tight end with at least 10 run-blocking snaps last week. He also caught three passes for 20 yards and a touchdown on just six routes.  

Tommy Hudson and Luke Stocker drew most of the snaps early, with Anthony Firkser logging just three snaps overall and Geoff Swaim sitting out due to injury.  

Offensive line

None of Tennessee’s projected starting offensive linemen played in this game. 

Dillon Radunz worked at right guard early, where he was found on the initial depth chart, before moving to right tackle. He earned a 71.1 PFF grade on 13 snaps at right guard compared to a 69.3 grade on 39 snaps at right tackle.

Radunz didn’t allow any pressure on 23 pass-blocking snaps.

Cole Banwart and Christian DiLauro both notched 80.0-plus run-blocking grades. 

Defensive line

The Titans were able to generate a consistent pass rush without several starters up front. Their 59.4% pressure rate as a team was second only to the Jets in the first week of preseason action. 

Wyatt Ray and Rashad Weaver both ended the game with at least five quarterback pressures. It was a well-rounded performance for each, as well. Both players earned run-defense grades above 75.0. 

Larrell Murchison was able to avoid attempted cut blocks to make a play in the backfield on multiple plays early in the game.

Linebackers

Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans both started the game before giving way to David Long and Monty Rice

Long’s 96.4 PFF grade on 13 defensive snaps led all Titans defenders, highlighted by a second-quarter interception in zone coverage. 

Rice missed three tackles in seven attempts. Those three missed tackles were tied for the second-most of any defender in preseason Week 1.

Secondary

The Titans deployed their projected starting secondary with the exception of Caleb Farley. Chris Jackson played in the slot early with Jackrabbit Jenkins and Kristian Fulton on the outside. 

Atlanta didn’t get any semblance of production against Tennessee's defensive backs. The Titans’ cornerbacks and safeties collectively allowed one reception for 5 yards the entire game. 

Chris Jones and Fulton both recorded pass breakups.


WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

Quarterback

Ryan Fitzpatrick started the game and played just 14 snaps, but in that time he accounted for two big-time throws and looked set to continue playing the best football of his career.

Taylor Heinicke was the next man up and had a solid enough game but did have a turnover-worthy play when he threw one up into double coverage on a roll out that was pressured by Patriots edge rusher Josh Uche.

Steven Montez was the third quarterback and put on an impressive performance despite an interception that came on a pressured pass. Montez posted an adjusted completion rate of 70.8% and even added 14 scramble yards with his legs.

Wide Receiver

With no Curtis Samuel, Cam Sims was the starter opposite Terry McLaurin while Adam Humphries lined up in the slot. None played more than 14 snaps, but McLaurin still managed two catches for 25 yards in that time. Sims didn’t see a target.

Dyami Brown, the team’s second-round rookie, caught two passes, one of which was contested. Those contested-catch skills are important for him to earn a starting spot and the favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the regular season. 

Antonio Gandy-Golden scored what looked like a critical 2-point conversion late in the game only for the officials to rule that it came out before he had completed the play.

Tight End

Logan Thomas has become the unquestioned starter at tight end and had a nice first-down catch on a back-shoulder throw from Ryan Fitzpatrick early in the game. Thomas played 14 snaps and that was his biggest contribution.

Sammis Reyes, an undrafted rookie, led the tight end group with 33 snaps, 21 of which came on passing plays. He saw three targets and caught two of them for 25 yards.

Running Back

Antonio Gibson played 11 snaps as the starter while Peyton Barber continued his remarkable run of vulturing short-yardage carries, grabbing the only rushing touchdown for the team on one of his six carries. 

Undrafted rookie Jaret Patterson was the only back to play more than 14 snaps, as he logged 29 snaps late in the game. Patterson had 10 carries for 40 yards, breaking one tackle, and added 30 more yards on four receptions as a receiver.

Offensive line

Second-round rookie Samuel Cosmi was one of the stars of the game for Washington, starting at right tackle and playing 41 snaps on his way to an overall PFF grade of 81.8. Cosmi’s grade was largely built off a dominant display of run blocking, but he also didn’t allow any pressure in the game.

The signing of Charles Leno Jr. proved to be a shrewd piece of business, but he didn’t have a strong debut, allowing a hit and a hurry on just eight pass-blocking snaps.

The two pressures allowed by Leno amounted to the only pressure surrendered by the starting five offensive linemen.

Defensive Line

Chase Young only played 12 snaps, but contained within those snaps was a game-changing type of play. Young beat Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn around the edge to hit Cam Newton and knock the ball loose. It was ultimately ruled an incomplete pass but was inches from being the kind of strip-sack that transforms games.

The rest of the Washington starting defensive line was relatively quiet, with Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne earning overall PFF grades in the 50s.

Linebacker

First-round rookie Jamin Davis started the game and played 20 snaps but earned an overall PFF grade of just 31.5. He allowed one catch for 11 yards in coverage and may take a little time to adjust to the NFL level.

Cole Holcomb and Jon Bostic were the other two starters as expected, with neither player standing out.

Former Giants linebacker David Mayo had a solid game amongst the backups, as did Khaleke Hudson on his 26 snaps. Hudson had two defensive stops and solid grades against the run and in coverage.

Secondary

The starting secondary was as expected, but they each played just a dozen snaps before heading to the sideline. During those snaps, new free agent acquisition William Jackson III had given up an 11-yard reception and committed a penalty.

No defensive back played more than 23 snaps, with cornerback Torry McTyer leading the team. McTyer was thrown at four times, allowing three catches for 19 yards and notching a defensive stop in his playing time.

Know tomorrow, today. Western Southern Financial Group.
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