NFC North: Dawan Landry
Our guys at Scouts Inc. rate Chris Gamble, released by the Carolina Panthers, as the top cornerback available in free agency. Another veteran cornerback without a team is Aaron Ross, who was let go by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Meanwhile, two starting-caliber safeties were released Friday: the Arizona Cardinals' Adrian Wilson and the Jaguars' Dawan Landry.
With Louis Delmas set to test free agency, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, the Lions would seem to be in the market for a safety. The same could be said at cornerback if they do not re-sign Chris Houston. A safety wouldn't be a bad idea for the Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears either.
Teams can start negotiating with pending free agents (or at least their agents) after midnight tonight. No deals can be official until Tuesday. We'll keep you updated.
Saturday night wasn't a great one for the quarterbacks of the NFC North. Minnesota's Tarvaris Jackson bruised his right knee, although the injury does not appear too serious. Chicago's Rex Grossman probably fell back in his competition with Kyle Orton after a rough performance in Seattle, while Aaron Rodgers couldn't move the Green Bay Packers in a 34-6 loss to San Francisco.
I watched most of the Vikings' 23-15 victory at Baltimore, and to me it was one of Jackson's best performances -- preseason or otherwise -- in his three-year career. He was decisive, accurate and looked awfully fast on a 13-yard run that converted a third-and-12 on the Vikings' first drive.
About the only bad decision he made was not to slide at the end of a nine-yard run later in the quarter. Jackson lowered his shoulder on Ravens safety Dawan Landry to gain an extra yard or two. But that delay allowed linebacker Ray Lewis to grab Jackson's leg and bring him down.
Vikings coach Brad Childress termed the injury a contusion and didn't seem overly concerned about it after the game.
The Vikings are under no obligation to be transparent on injuries during the preseason. But I agree with what analyst Mike Mayock said during the Vikings' local broadcast: If the Vikings believed Jackson might have been seriously injured, there's no way they would have let him spend the rest of the game standing on the sidelines. He would have been in the locker room undergoing tests or getting further treatment.
That said, the injury will renew questions about Jackson's fragility and his pain tolerance. In two-plus seasons in the NFL, Jackson has been sidelined by four injuries. One came in 2006, when he tore cartilage in his knee during practice, while the other three came last year: A strained hamstring, a small fracture in his hand and a concussion.
Continuing around the NFC North on an expanded edition of Black and Blue all over:
- It's fair to say that Vikings coaches will remind Jackson of the importance of sliding.
- Minnesota receiver Bernard Berrian did not play against the Ravens because of a sore toe. "We're just trying to get him completely healthy," Childress said.
- The Packers' Rodgers managed just 58 yards passing and three points during his half of work. Of course, tight end Donald Lee dropped what would have been a 13-yard touchdown pass and receiver Donald Driver let a catchable deep pass hit the ground on the Packers' first series. Overall, a bad night for the Packers offense.
- Receiver Greg Jennings, linebacker A.J. Hawk and running back Ryan Grant were among 12 Packers players who missed the game because of injuries.
- Rookie Brian Brohm didn't do anything to ease concerns about whether he's ready to handle the No. 2 quarterback job, finishing with a 33.9 passer rating.
- Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times is ready to award Orton the starting quarterback job -- by default.
- Brad Biggs of the Sun-Times points out that Grossman never had a chance Saturday night in Seattle because of poor offensive line play.
- This is the way the Bears will play this season: Their first touchdown came on a 6-yard interception return by cornerback Corey Graham, and their second was a 75-yard punt return by rookie Earl Bennett.
- Detroit Lions starters will be on the field for 18-22 plays in Sunday night's preseason game at Cincinnati.
|AP Photo/Gail Burton|
|Baltimore Ravens quarterback Troy Smith throws a pass in the second quarter of the preseason football game against the Minnesota Vikings Saturday in Baltimore.|
Here were the first-half highlights:
- Quarterback Troy Smith tried to make his claim on the starting quarterback job in the first half. He did well in leading the Ravens to a touchdown on the opening drive. Smith made a couple of nice bootlegs (one run, one pass) to keep the chains moving that eventually led to Baltimore's only score thus far. But he also threw an interception before halftime and finished the first half 3 for 5 for 25 yards, an interception, and 35 yards rushing.
- Baltimore rookie tailback Ray Rice had his best game of the preseason with 71 yards on seven carries and a touchdown run. He longest gain was 42-yard run against a solid Vikings defense. The Ravens coaching staff has been impressed with Rice this summer and he's continuing to play well.
- In what may be the biggest news of the night, Vikings starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson injured his right knee in the first quarter. He was scrambling where he took a shot on his leg from safety Dawan Landry and linebacker Ray Lewis. Vikings PR said the severity of the injury remains unknown and they won't have a definitive update until after the game. He finished the night 7 for 11 for 82 yards and a touchdown.
- The Ravens' first-team defense, particularly the secondary, struggled mightily against Minnesota in the passing game. Baltimore was without starting safety Ed Reed and cornerback Chris McAlister, and the Vikings picked the Ravens apart through the air for two passing touchdowns to receivers Martin Nance and Robert Ferguson.