What Adrian Peterson did on Friday night wouldn’t make a long list of all the amazing things we’ve seen from him on a football field, but it was still remarkable.
On Monday, Peterson signed with the Washington Redskins. He spent the entire offseason unsigned, meaning he hadn’t played or practiced with a team this calendar year. He’s 33 years old. And four days after he signed, Peterson looked like he was ready to be the Redskins’ starter.
Peterson’s first run was up the middle for 7 tough yards. Later, he went left, hesitated beautifully – it seems we’ve seen Peterson do that a million times right before he explodes through the line – and went for 13 yards. In the second quarter, the Redskins went for it on fourth-and-short, Peterson bounced it outside and got the first down with ease. The Redskins wanted to give him some carries right away so they could tell what they had. The first impression was pretty good.
Peterson was wearing No. 26, not his usual No. 28, which was odd. And seeing the longtime Minnesota Vikings star with any other team is still weird. But other than the new uniform, it looked like the same Peterson. He had 56 yards on 11 carries in Washington’s 29-17 loss to the Denver Broncos.
The Redskins were in some trouble when rookie Derrius Guice went down with an ACL injury in the first preseason game, and needed to bring in someone after Samaje Perine suffered an injury. They worked out some backs but signed Peterson, a future Hall of Famer. It was a curious signing. Peterson is 33, long past the age in which many backs hit the wall. He wasn’t very good, other than a couple productive games, with the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals last season.
While it’s impossible to tell if Peterson can be a starter over 16 games, he looks like the Redskins’ best option now. Perine and Rob Kelley have shown they aren’t special. Peterson isn’t going to be the 2,000-yard, MVP-winning back he was with the Vikings. But he can provide some balance to an offense that has been lacking it in recent years. We saw brief flashes of that on Friday night.
If nothing else, Peterson’s reemergence will be fun to watch. It seemed like he might fade away after a strange season with two teams last year and the clock would start for his trip to Canton. But on Friday night, Peterson looked like he’s ready to be a factor for at least one more season.
While Adrian Peterson was the player to watch in Washington, the Denver Broncos stood out.
Denver’s offense had been up-and-down through two preseason games, but it clicked on Friday. New quarterback Case Keenum (12-of-18, 148 yards) should make a huge difference, but a rookie back and a veteran receiver returning off an injury-filled season also give the offense new life.
It will be hard for the Broncos to keep rookie running back Royce Freeman from being their starter in Week 1. Freeman, a third-round pick, had another impressive touchdown on Friday. He broke through the middle of the line, behind some great blocking, and scored from 24 yards out. He wasn’t great on his other four carries, finishing with 26 yards on five attempts. However, based on what we’ve seen so far this preseason he’s going to be a big contributor and seems like a good bet start over Devontae Booker.
The standout on Friday night was receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders never seemed right last season. An ankle sprain set him back. He looks healthy this season and should be productive with Keenum. Sanders had a few nice catches and a very nice 27-yard touchdown run on an end-around. He finished with four catches for 61 yards and the touchdown run. Sanders looks fast again, and could be on the verge of a big season.
The Broncos should be able to depend on their defense, which played well against Washington. The offense can’t help but be better. If the offense clicks like it did on Friday night, Denver will be a factor in the AFC West.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning looked sharp in a 22-16 win over the New York Jets, even with rookie running back Saquon Barkley inactive with a hamstring injury and Odell Beckham Jr. sitting out. Manning completed 17 of 23 passes for 188 yards in one half of work. His biggest play was a 54-yard bomb downfield to Cody Latimer. He also lofted a 30-yard pass to Sterling Shepard, who made a nice over-the-shoulder catch.
Manning has been on a two-year slide, but the Giants put their faith in their 37-year-old quarterback in the offseason. They didn’t use the No. 2 pick on a quarterback, picking Barkley instead and hoping that a better run game and the return of Beckham from a broken ankle would help out Manning. Manning looked good on Friday night and perhaps he can have a revival season, especially when Barkley and Beckham return to play in games that count.
Carolina Panthers 25, New England Patriots 14: On the Panthers’ first series, Cam Newton did what came naturally and took off running. Patriots defensive back Jonathan Jones also did what came naturally and went low to tackle Newton – it’s hard for any defender to take the huge Newton down by going up high – and Newton flipped when he was hit. Newton landed on his head and neck and fumbled, and shortly after was in the injury tent. Newton’s stay in the tent was short, and he returned a few plays later, to the relief of all Panthers fans. Newton looked good, completing 11 of 17 passes for 142 yards.
Minnesota Vikings 21, Seattle Seahawks 20: If Stefon Diggs can just stay healthy for 16 games, he could become one of the top receivers in the NFL. It’s clear that Kirk Cousins likes him. Diggs had eight targets on Friday night, catching four for 51 yards. After one catch he showed off a great spin move. On another he and Cousins had great chemistry on a back-shoulder throw. Diggs had a similar catch from Cousins in the preseason opener at Denver when Cousins made a great anticipation pass and Diggs was right where he needed to be. Diggs has had injury issues, but has the talent to be a top-5 receiver this season.
Detroit Lions 33, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30: Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston continues to look very good this preseason. He was spreading the ball around again with accurate passes, and had a touchdown on a jump ball to emerging Chris Godwin. Winston finished 6-of-10 for 60 yards and a touchdown. Winston is still working with the backups because he’ll serve a three-game suspension to start the season (Ryan Fitzpatrick played well as the starter on Friday), but he continues to look like he’s on the verge of a career year once he comes back.
Oakland Raiders 13, Green Bay Packers 6: The Packers decided they don’t need to see any more of Aaron Rodgers this preseason. He sat out on Friday night, and Brett Hundley started. But Rodgers did get some pregame throws in with his former teammate Jordy Nelson, now with the Raiders.
• Has rookie Sam Darnold done enough to win the New York Jets‘ starting quarterback job? He was 8-of-16 for 86 yards against the Giants. The best thing to say about Darnold in three games is he is good at identifying the quick throw and getting the ball out. Once again he didn’t take many chances downfield, but he can deliver short passes to his playmakers. The Jets presumably want Darnold, the third overall pick, to start. But Teddy Bridgewater has played better than Darnold, which complicates the decision. Bridgewater is a great story but he’s not the Jets’ future, Darnold is. It’s one of the very few quarterback battles that has intrigue around the NFL, and the Jets have an interesting decision to make.
• Injuries happen every preseason, and the Giants were dealt a tough one Friday. Second-year tight end Evan Engram, who had a fantastic rookie season, suffered a concussion against the Jets. The Giants still have 17 days before their season opener, and Engram could be cleared by then, but it will be a situation worth tracking the next couple weeks.
• The Buccaneers and Seahawks drafted rookie running backs with valuable early picks, but a couple young veterans look like the better options so far. Chris Carson continues to look good for Seattle. Carson scored a touchdown on an inside run and showed off some nice moves on a flare pass by Russell Wilson, shaking Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks. Even though first-round pick Rashaad Penny is recovering from a broken finger, Carson deserves to be the starter even if Penny was healthy.
The Bucs used a second-round pick on Ronald Jones, but Peyton Barber is far ahead of him. Barber had some nice runs on Tampa Bay’s first drive, finishing it with a nifty touchdown. Penny and Jones will be factors at some point this season, but Carson and Barber look like their teams’ respective lead backs to start the season.
• Running back Christian McCaffrey continues to look like the focal point of the Panthers offense. He had 12 carries for 48 yards and two catches for 16 yards. Getting 14 touches in one half is notable for him. McCaffrey had a short touchdown called back due to a penalty, but it showed he’s in line for goal-line looks. McCaffrey might be a true workhorse back this season, if he stays healthy.
• This week, Daniel Carlson seemed to be the de facto winner of the Vikings kicking job when the team cut Kai Forbath. Carlson, a rookie, didn’t instill much confidence in his first game since winning the job. Carlson missed both his field-goal attempts wide left. It’s just a preseason game, but the misses have to put the Vikings on high alert. It’s risky to go into a season in which you have Super Bowl dreams and have a rookie kicker.
• The Packers drafted cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson with their first two picks this year, and both made plays on Friday night. Alexander got his first preseason interception on some nice coverage. Then Jackson got an interception and returned it for a touchdown — it looked like his second pick-six of the preseason — but it was called back due to a penalty that wasn’t on him. Alexander and Jackson could both help right away at a position of need.
• Amari Cooper had a spectacular 49-yard catch downfield from Derek Carr, who also had a nice 19-yard pass to tight end Jared Cook. The Raiders’ starting offense didn’t play much but what we saw looked good.
• Preseason or not, it’s fun to see a 109-yard return of a missed field goal. It happened in Tampa, where Lions kicker Matt Prater’s 62-yard attempt fell short and Buccaneers receiver Adam Humphries fielded it 9 yards deep in his end zone. Humphries weaved around the Lions field-goal team and scored on the final play of the first half.
📺: CBS pic.twitter.com/m2ARslB7cv
— NFL (@NFL) August 25, 2018
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