AFC West: 2012 NFL preseason Week 3

Observation deck: Broncos-49ers

August, 26, 2012

A look at the Broncos’ 29-24 home loss Sunday:

Earlier we looked at the great, but short, outing by Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.

Here are other thoughts: Starting receiver Eric Decker looked good against a strong defense as he had two touchdown catches from Manning. Decker is a competitor who fights for everything he gets.

Backup Caleb Hanie had his moments but ended up 8-of-12 passing for 92 yards. Expect Hanie to start the season as Manning’s backup while rookie Brock Osweiler continues to develop.

Denver’s first-team defense looked active and strong early in the game aside from a few big plays for the 49ers.

Denver kicker Matt Prater nailed a 53-yard field goal.

Denver’s reserves did not look good for the second consecutive game -- the second consecutive game in which the Broncos didn't score in the second half. Depth is necessary, so the team might need some bottom-of-the-roster tweaking.

Denver running back Knowshon Moreno looked decent. At this point, I think, he has a good shot to make the 53-man roster.

Denver was penalized eight times for 81 yards. Not ideal.

It was extremely hot on the field, which will benefit both teams when they play in the early-season heat.

Manning’s preseason line: 30-of-42, 343 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 96.9. That’s nice work other than the picks.

Denver undrafted rookie linebacker Steven Johnson continued to look good and he has a real chance to make the 53-man roster.

Observation deck: Raiders-Lions

August, 25, 2012

A look at the Raiders’ 31-20 home victory Saturday night:

Oakland's first preseason win came courtesy of some late-game offensive explosions.

Terrelle Pryor can run and he’s exciting. There’s no doubt. He lit up the stadium with a 59-yard run and a 17-yard touchdown jaunt, totaling 90 yards rushing on five carries. But most importantly, he made some nice passes and hit rookie Juron Criner for two touchdowns (39 and 76 yards) in the fourth quarter. Pryor finished 3 of 5 passing for 137 yards. If he can throw the ball consistently, he could have a future. Saturday was a promising day for Pryor, who has struggled this summer.

As for Criner, it was a nice show for the home fans after impressing his teammates in camp all summer.

Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer’s uneven preseason continued. He had his moments, but he also threw two interceptions. Palmer has thrown four interceptions in the preseason; he threw 16 picks in 10 games last season. Again, that is Palmer’s biggest area of concern.

Palmer did engineer a long scoring drive in the first half -- a promising sign.

Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski suffered a groin injury and left the game after trying to make a tackle on a 79-yard kick return. It is not known how long Janikowski -- the best kicking weapon in the NFL -- will be out. His replacement, rookie Eddy Carmona, drilled a 56-yard field goal, and perhaps he’d kick if Janikowski’s injury lingers into the regular season. Still, Oakland needs Janikowski to have a quick recovery.

Oakland’s special teams need some work. They are usually stellar, but have been a little sloppy this preseason. The Raiders have had key injuries on special teams and I don’t think it is an issue yet.

Oakland’s defense played solidly again. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford went down with a hand injury in the second quarter; he had been pretty successful before getting hurt. His backup, Shaun Hill, took over and had some success.

Undrafted rookie receiver Rod Streater had five catches, giving him 18 for the preseason. He started Saturday because of injuries, which is a major accomplishment for an undrafted rookie. It looks like he will get a chance to contribute when the regular season starts.

The Raiders had some early penalty problems after being pretty clean in the first two games. They had four pre-snap penalties and were penalized a total of nine times for 59 yards. Cutting down on penalties has to be a priority for Oakland, which set NFL records for penalties and penalty yardage in 2011.

Oakland reserve running back Taiwan Jones had a nice game with 50 yards on 10 carries. He will be a key factor behind starter Darren McFadden.

Fellow Raiders back Mike Goodson had 18 yards on seven carries. But he didn’t fumble after fumbling twice last week.

Oakland allowed just one sack all game.

Young defensive linemen Jamie Cumbie, Jack Crawford and Christo Bilukidi all looked good and all have promise.

A look at the Chargers 12-10 win at Minnesota on Friday night:

This was the Chargers’ third preseason game, which is supposed to be the game in which the starters play extensively. That wasn’t the case for the Chargers.

Because the offensive line was banged up, the Chargers held out quarterback Philip Rivers as a precaution. Tight end Antonio Gates, who has been dealing with injuries for the past four years, was also a healthy scratch. In all, the Chargers played without six offensive starters.

And it looked like it.

Backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and his makeshift line had their issues against the Vikings’ front-line players.

Yes, the Chargers lost some valuable experience because of the injuries, but keeping Rivers out of harm’s way was the smart move, especially considering San Diego has already lost starting running back Ryan Mathews (broken clavicle) and No. 3 receiver Vincent Brown (broken ankle).
  • U-T San Diego reports San Diego top pick Melvin Ingram has a bruised tight. Unless there is more to it, I’d think Ingram would have a good chance to play in Week 1 in 17 days.
  • Jackie Battle started at running back and perhaps he will be the first of a committee to play if Mathews isn’t ready to face Oakland in Week 1.
  • It looks like Nate Kaeding is going to hold off Nick Novak in the kicking competition unless the Chargers pull a surprise. Kaeding had field goals of 50 and 54 yards Friday night. If he is out of luck in San Diego, Novak is working to get a job somewhere as he nailed a 45-yarder with four seconds to go to give the Chargers the win.
  • San Diego’s defense is much improved and it is getting turnovers. The Chargers have 10 takeaways in three games.
  • Linebacker Larry English, the No. 16 overall pick in 2009, had his second and third sacks of the preseason.
  • Rookie offensive linemen, left tackle Mike Harris and center David Molk struggled pretty badly. If left tackle Jared Gaither and center Nick Hardwick aren’t back by week 1, the Chargers could have issues. The team is hopeful both will be back soon.
  • Receiver/returner Micheal Spurlock continues to look good and he is a good bet to make the 53-man roster.

Observation deck: Seahawks-Chiefs

August, 24, 2012
A look at the Chiefs’ 44-14 home loss to Seattle on Friday night:
  • Yes, I’m sure many Chiefs fans are freaking out over a home blowout like this. But I can’t join the in the hysteria. Maybe I’m wrong, but the preseason is just the preseason, big win or big loss. Now, if the Chiefs get throttled at home by Atlanta in 16 days, then the hand-wringing should commence. But this loss doesn’t mean the Chiefs will be awful in that game.

  • The Chiefs may be the answer to a trivia question: They were the opponent of Russell Wilson's first preseason start. The rookie quarterback was terrific in his staring debut. He beat up the Chiefs pretty good. Should Kansas City be worried that a third-round pick whipped them? It’s not ideal, but again, it’s the preseason, so it really doesn’t matter. Plus, the Chiefs have some injuries. Still, like their performances against St. Louis last week, the Chiefs’ defense showed it is not quite ready for prime time.
  • Kansas City defensive linemen Glenn Dorsey, Anthony Toribio and Allen Bailey were all banged up some Friday. Toribio’s injury allowed first-round pick Dontari Poe to play with the first unit, which was valuable.
  • Brady Quinn spelled Matt Cassel and it looks like he will win the backup job over Ricky Stanzi, which has long been expected. Quinn threw 10 passes and Stanzi didn’t play. You’d have to think that battle has been decided.
  • The Chiefs’ offense was spotty. But it did have a 17-play, 80-yard drive. The Chiefs have had long scoring drives in all three preseason games, which is a good sign.
  • Receiver Dwayne Bowe played some as expected. Bowe ended his holdout last week.
  • Running back Nate Eachus made a push for a roster spot with 98 yards on 10 carries.
  • Receiver Dexter McCluster had a strong game with seven catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.