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Monday, August 17, 2009
Guarding against preseason overreaction, v 1.0


Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Comb though preseasons past and you'll find plenty of evidence that was later proven entirely misleading. For our purposes we'll just mention one:

The 2008 Detroit Lions were 4-0 in the preseason, and we all know where things went from there.

So here's a look at things we should be careful about overreacting to out of the preseason so far for three of our four teams. The Jags make their preseason debut Monday night.

Houston Texans

Don't get too excited about: Running back Chris Brown, who looked like he can look when he's healthy, with eight touches for 47 yards in Kansas City. Root for the Texans to be able to squeeze all they can out of him. But don't expect to get 16 games from a guy who has a major tendency to get hurt.

[And a bonus second entry in this category, because I made a mistake in the original post:]

Don't get too excited about: Connor Barwin had a sack and played well, but some Texans fans on Twitter were proclaiming him the unquestioned answer opposite Mario Williams and anointing him a beast. I think he's going to be good, too, but we'll need to see it over more than a piece of one night, and against a team better than the Chiefs.

Don't get too worried about: Quarterback Dan Orlovsky. Even before Rex Grossman's hamstring injury, some people were way too eager to get him into the No. 2 spot. That belongs to Orlovsky, and a shaky first game -- his first action with the organization -- doesn't change anything. That .450 completion percentage will go up, just like Matt Schaub's 1.000 will come down.

Indianapolis Colts

Don't get too excited about: Rookie punter Pat McAfee started off with a 63-yarder and was consistent in the Colts' preseason opener, finishing with a 49.9-yard average and a 40.4 average net. A great debut, but a punter hardly faces the pressures of a big regular-season fourth down in a preseason game.

Don't get too worried about: Peyton Manning getting sacked three times in six snaps. The offensive line obviously has a lot of work to do, but those results came behind a line that included left tackle Tony Ugoh, who's recently been demoted, and right tackle Corey Hilliard, who's not destined to make the 53-man roster.

Tennessee Titans

Don't get too excited about: Vince Young's big night. Yes, he looked a lot more comfortable and was much more productive and deserves credit for it. But he didn't appear to be making multiple reads on most plays. He often threw to the first target and several of his completions were on rollouts that Tampa Bay couldn't dissect or wouldn't respond to the way an opponent probably would in a regular-season game. And when he recovered a bad shotgun snap and tried to throw a lateral to LenDale White? Not a good moment.

Don't get too worried about: Chris Johnson has a 1.8-yard average on 13 preseason carries in two games. The Titans aren't scheming to run the ball and don't really have any concerns that once they do, Johnson won't pick up where he left off as a rookie.