Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
In lieu of our regular format, we’ll take a spin through three preseason finales Friday morning. More than anything else, teams try to avoid injuries in the last preseason game. But unfortunately for them, a few players were hurt Thursday night:
Chicago 26, Browns 23
Cornerback Zack Bowman celebrated his return with a diving interception on the first play of the game, and then later left the game with stiffness in the hamstring that has bothered him most of this summer. Bowman is an excellent talent and likely starter when he’s healthy, but that latter part has been a problem. The same goes for tailback Kevin Jones, who was carted off the field after suffering a left ankle injury in the first quarter. The Bears have been hoping to use Jones to avoid overworking starter Matt Forte, but without him, they’ll be left with Garrett Wolfe and Adrian Peterson. More news to come on the Jones front.
On a night when quarterback Jay Cutler didn’t throw a pass, the standout player was receiver Johnny Knox. The rookie caught two passes for 61 yards, had a 50-yard kickoff return and a 38-yard punt return to set up a late score. The performance should solidify his roster spot. I’m not sure how much he’ll play in the early going, but Knox has the raw speed and playmaking ability to eventually develop into a player.
Detroit 17, Buffalo 6
We got more of the same from quarterback Matthew Stafford, which didn’t make the Lions’ looming decision any easier. Stafford showed some flashes with three bullet passes to receiver Calvin Johnson, one of which -- a 34-yard touchdown -- was called back because of penalty. Stafford also lost a fumble and threw an interception before leaving early in the second quarter. Coach Jim Schwartz wouldn’t tip his hand about who will start the Sept. 13 season opener at New Orleans, but it’s clear that rookie mistakes will be a part of Stafford’s early performances if he does start.
It was an interesting night for the Lions’ rookie class. Stafford was up and down. Sixth-round pick Aaron Brown, meanwhile, rushed for 56 yards. But third-round pick Derrick Williams mishandled another punt and might have difficulty making the team. I would imagine the Lions will find a place for him, but he certainly hasn’t proved ready to return kickoffs or punts as expected.
Tennessee 27, Green Bay 13
Rookie defensive lineman B.J. Raji had a sack and three tackles, but he also left with a right ankle injury and did not return. Whether Raji opens the season as a starter was already in doubt after his two-week holdout; if he can’t play at left end the Packers will be happy with Johnny Jolly there. Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters that he had no reason to believe Raji’s injury was serious but would have more information Friday.
Under some duress from the Titans' pass rush, third-string quarterback Brian Brohm completed 20 of 28 passes for 154 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown or an interception, but showed enough to increase his chances for getting another year to develop in the Packers' offense. His longest pass was a 33-yard catch-and-run to receiver Jordy Nelson, but for the most part he threw short and prevented mistakes. The Packers have a lot invested in Brohm and would prefer not to have to replace him, via trade or waiver claim, this weekend.