The NFL is back, and we're here to examine the good and the bad from the second week of preseason action.
Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Haskins needed a bounce-back performance after throwing two interceptions in his preseason debut, and he did just that Thursday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Haskins still made some mistakes - he lost a fumble and was sacked three times - but he showcased his deep ball, poise, and football IQ on this 55-yard touchdown.
Haskins' throw was picture-perfect, as he hit Robert Davis in stride to take advantage of the separation the receiver created. But the play likely wouldn't have happened if prior to the snap Haskins didn't recognize the blitz from the slot corner. The rookie changed his protection to account for the extra rusher and then stood tall in the pocket to deliver the downfield strike. It was a veteran-like move that showed Haskins - who started just one season in college - is quickly acclimating to NFL speeds.
The International Player Pathway Program was instituted in 2017 in an attempt to create a way for athletes outside the United States to compete for an NFL roster spot. This year, AFC East teams were chosen to each host one of these players. The Buffalo Bills received English former rugby star Christian Wade, and after two preseason games, they likely can't believe their luck.
Wade made headlines by taking his first touch 65 yards for a touchdown during the opening preseason game, and then proved he was no one-play wonder by leaving half the Carolina Panthers' defense in his dust on a spectacular catch-and-run play Friday. While Wade faces an uphill battle to make the Bills' 53-man squad, his feel-good story should undoubtedly open up more doors for other international NFL hopefuls.
The Pittsburgh Steelers need their entire offense to step up to counter the loss of Antonio Brown. The star receiver's production simply can't be replaced by just one man, and while Pittsburgh has a ready-made No. 1 receiver in JuJu Smith-Schuster, it needs a consistent second target to ensure defenses can't hone in on the leading pass-catcher.
Veteran Donte Moncrief has been the leading candidate for the No. 2 wideout role throughout camp, but Washington has been staking his claim during the preseason. The young receiver stood out again versus the Kansas City Chiefs, catching four of his five targets for 78 yards a week after grabbing a touchdown and racking up 84 yards. If Washington has fixed his consistency issues and poor catch rate from his rookie year, his big-play ability could add a whole new dimension to the Steelers' offense.
That was Jerry Jones' response when asked if rookie running back Tony Pollard was his most valuable negotiating tool in Elliott's holdout. While the Dallas Cowboys owner was clearly poking fun at the star, Pollard ran with the starters against the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday and didn't look out of place. He rushed for 42 yards on five carries, including a bruising 14-yard touchdown run straight down the defense's throat.
The rookie is, of course, not close to Elliott's level. But if Dallas is to get its All-Pro tailback to agree to a more team-friendly deal, it needs leverage during negotiations. Pollard helping the first-team offense roll without Elliott gives the Cowboys exactly that.
Rosen had a chance to close the gap with Ryan Fitzpatrick during the first two preseason games, with the Miami Dolphins giving him essentially twice as many snaps as his veteran competition. The second-year pro hasn't played badly - he completed 10 of 18 passes for 102 yards Friday as the starter versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - but he hasn't done nearly enough to unseat Fitzpatrick, who is set to start the third preseason game.
Head coach Brian Flores wants the matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars to be a dress rehearsal for the regular season, so Rosen isn't likely to see much more time with the first-string unit. Based on Fitzpatrick's history of roller-coaster play, though, it still seems quite likely the second-year quarterback will see the field this season. However, unless Rosen can do something spectacular over the next few weeks, he may be on track to start the campaign on the sideline.
Through two games of preseason action, many fans have been left wanting more from the coach-quarterback duo of Murray and Kingsbury. The Arizona Cardinals' offense looked completely out of rhythm in the loss to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday, and the No. 1 overall pick finished 3-for-8 for just 12 passing yards.
Every team uses a watered-down version of its offense during the preseason, and Murray and Co. looked far more impressive in the first exhibition game. However, it must be noted that Kingbury's Air Raid scheme is predicated on consistent execution of relatively simple concepts. Kingsbury wants his offense to act like a well-oiled machine, yet it had 10 penalties in four drives with Murray under center. It's clear the rookie coach has some work to do if he hopes to get the unit on track before Week 1.
The sample was small but nobody who watched Monday Night Football could say Garoppolo looked good in his preseason debut. The San Francisco 49ers pivot completed just one pass in six attempts against the Denver Broncos in his return from a torn ACL. His lone connection registered zero yards, while one of his five other attempts was picked off. The performance comes after he threw five straight interceptions in a team practice.
The 49ers won't have a shot at contending in the NFC this season if Garoppolo isn't performing at a high level, so his initial futility has to be at least a little bit concerning. He looked tentative versus the Broncos, perhaps a sign he's still thinking about his knee. Pressure on Garoppolo - who signed a five-year, $137.5-million contract in 2018 - will mount quickly if he gets off to an equally sluggish start in the regular season.