NFL Nation: 2012 NFL preseason

SEATTLE -- Looking back on three things discussed here before the Seattle Seahawks' 27-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans in an exhibition opener at CenturyLink Field:

1. QB competition. Starter Matt Flynn was efficient early, but two sacks and an interception changed the complexion of his performance. At his best, Flynn rolled left and threw across his body for a 14-yard gain with a defender bearing down on him. The Seahawks did not ask much from Flynn overall. Most of his passes were safe ones, including when linebacker Colin McCarthy dropped into underneath coverage for an interception. I don't think Flynn hurt his cause, but neither was he the most exciting Seattle quarterback in this game. We need to see more.

Russell Wilson started the second half and moved outside the pocket on his first three dropbacks, including one negated by a Titans penalty. At this point, I was wondering how much we'd see Wilson throw within the context of a conventional offense. Wilson threw from the pocket on his next dropback, finding Braylon Edwards for a 39-yard touchdown on a deep pass up the left side. Wilson continued moving well. He threw effectively on the run, showing good accuracy and velocity. But he also threw into coverage for an interception in the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Wilson appeared to make a poor decision on this play, costing his team points. His 32-yard touchdown run in the final two minutes left a positive impression.

2. Three rookie draft choices. Defensive end Bruce Irvin, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and running back Robert Turbin were the ones I singled out.

Irvin played sparingly and did not get much pressure. Titans left tackle Michael Roos absorbed him. There were times Seattle left Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane on the field in its nickel package, with Irvin on the sideline. That will change when the games start counting. Regarding Irvin, Seattle looked like a team holding back in preseason. Coach Pete Carroll greeted Irvin excitedly on the sideline after Irvin and the second-team defense stopped the Titans on a fourth-down play. Quarterback Jake Locker rolled away from Irvin and threw incomplete.

Wagner stopped Javon Ringer following a 2-yard gain early when the Titans did not block him. He showed speed in running from between the hashes to the yard-line numbers to assist on a tackle following a quick pass to the perimeter. Titans guard Kyle DeVan got into Wagner pretty good on a third-quarter running play.

Turbin showed excellent hands as a receiver out of the backfield. A longtime scout watching from the press box marveled at the grab Turbin made over the middle on a hard, low pass that looked almost like it was thrown away. That would have been a difficult catch even for a wide receiver. Turbin appeared quick through the line on a 9-yard gain in the first half. His quickness was apparent again on a toss to the left. Turbin outran defensive end Keyunta Dawson on that one, gaining 10 yards. Turbin didn't have much room on other runs, including when linebacker Zach Brown chased him down for a 2-yard loss.

3. Receiver mix. Edwards, on alert since the Seahawks signed Terrell Owens, helped himself in this game. He made an aggressive play on the ball to haul in Wilson's 39-yard bomb up the left side. Seattle wants a receiver with size. Edwards put his size to use on that play. Edwards scuffled with a Titans defender early in the game. He drew a penalty for a block in the back after hustling to tag cornerback Tommie Campbell following a long run from Wilson. Once a top-10 overall draft choice, Edwards was out there battling when Charly Martin, Phil Bates and Kris Durham were the other wideouts.

Deon Butler was active early, drawing an interference penalty before making a 10-yard catch for a first down as Seattle moved to the Tennessee 30-yard line. Durham, a player the Seahawks hoped would develop into a faster version of Mike Williams, couldn't handle a pass Wilson zipped to him on the perimeter.

Looking back upon three things discussed here before the Arizona Cardinals' exhibition game Friday at Kansas City, a game the Cardinals lost 27-17:

1. QB competition. John Skelton started and generally looked better than Kevin Kolb, in my view, except for an across-the-body pass into coverage for an interception on third-and-14. Neither quarterback made a clear positive statement. Skelton completed 3 of 6 passes. Kolb completed 1-of-5. Skelton appeared unfazed by the rush, at one point coolly sidestepping a charging defender to find Andre Roberts. The running game struggled early, however, and the Cardinals found themselves in third-and-long situations too frequently. Kolb appeared sharp and accurate on his first couple throws, both back-shoulder types. He held onto the ball too long a couple times, including once when the Chiefs sacked him. "Five hitches, you gotta get rid of the ball," former NFL quarterback Trent Green said during the Chiefs' broadcast of the game. Ryan Lindley, the likely third quarterback, completed all four attempts working behind the first-team line late in the first half. He drove the Cardinals to a field goal after the team fell behind 17-0.

2. Stewart Bradley's progress. The Chiefs blocked Bradley (and quite a few of his teammates) effectively while driving to touchdowns on their first two possessions. Bradley did stop Peyton Hillis for a 1-yard gain early, but he appeared unaware as Hillis rumbled through the line for a sizable gain to the Arizona 13-yard line. Hillis gained 41 yards on his first four carries and also had a 11-yard touchdown reception. One of the Chiefs' tight ends blocked Bradley to spring Shaun Draughn for a 4-yard touchdown. The entire defense had problems stopping Kansas City early. Bradley was in the spotlight here because he played well in the exhibition opener while trying to bounce back from a rough first season with Arizona.

3. Pass protection. There were issues in protection, but these were not just protection issues. They were situational issues. The Cardinals, playing without their top running backs, struggled to run the ball early. The run blocking itself wasn't very good. Arizona found itself in third-and-long situations too many times. Offensive linemen have a hard enough time holding up in protection without trying to keep their quarterbacks upright on third-and-long. And when a quarterback holds onto the ball an extra second or two, the job becomes even tougher. An improved ground game would have helped the protection.

CANTON, Ohio -- Looking back upon three things discussed here before the Arizona Cardinals' exhibition opener against New Orleans, a 17-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium on Sunday night:

1. Kevin Kolb's performance. The first item linked above included two questions for the Cardinals' quarterback. One, can he command the offense and finally appear comfortable running it? Two, can he make it through the game healthy after injuries derailed his 2011 season? Unfortunately, "no" and "definitely not" were the respective answers against the Saints. Kolb tossed an interception on his first pass attempt. Kolb, dropping back for his fourth pass attempt, suffered a rib contusion when New Orleans' Sedrick Ellis hit him. Kolb's night was finished, the latest damaging blow to his starting candidacy in Arizona. Injuries have knocked Kolb from preseason and/or regular-season games in four consecutive seasons.

2. Right side of the OL. Rookie right tackle Bobby Massie played extensively. He matched up against third-year Saints defensive end Junior Galette and seemed to do well enough. New Orleans did get pressure against Massie a few times, including once when Massie might have allowed a sack (I did not see the play clearly). Massie cleared out Galette to spring running back William Powell into the clear. Another time, Galette wanted a holding call, but did not get one, when Massie appeared to hook Galette around the collar. Massie disengaged and held up his hands as if to show officials he wasn't holding. Update: Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he thought Massie struggled some while getting needed reps. The team is working with Massie to adjust his setup. The goal is to make Massie less mechanical, Whisenhunt said. That won't happen overnight or after a week of practices, but we should see progress as the preseason continues.

3. Cornerback competition. William Gay started opposite left cornerback Patrick Peterson, as expected. Michael Adams was the nickel corner with the starting group. Tackling was a problem for the defense overall, including at corner. Gay missed one tackle on running back Mark Ingram early. Adams was the left corner and A.J. Jefferson the right corner with the second unit. Greg Toler also worked with the second unit. He missed a tackle in the third quarter. Teams aren't getting as much contact work in training camps under the current labor deal. That makes it tougher to simulate timing and work on the fundamentals of tackling. Saints quarterback Drew Brees played little, so the Cardinals' secondary didn't get an extended look against top competition. Update: Whisenhunt liked the way his corners played the ball. He thought they were physical. He thought the Cardinals needed to do a better job tackling on check-down plays.

AFC South 2012 preseason schedules

April, 4, 2012
Here are the 2012 preseason schedules for the AFC South teams:

Week 1 (TBA) at Carolina
Week 2 (TBA) vs. San Francisco
Saturday, Aug. 25 at New Orleans (CBS)
Week 4 (TBA) vs. Minnesota

Week 1 (TBA) vs. St. Louis
Sunday, Aug. 19 at Pittsburgh (NBC)
Week 3 (TBA) at Washington
Week 4 (TBA) vs. Cincinnati

Week 1 (TBA) vs. N.Y. Giants
Week 2 (TBA) at New Orleans
Week 3 (TBA) at Baltimore
Week 4 (TBA) vs. Atlanta

Week 1 (TBA) at Seattle
Week 2 (TBA) at Tampa Bay
Thursday, Aug. 23 vs. Arizona (ESPN)
Week 4 (TBA) vs. New Orleans
The NFL released its 2012 preseason schedules Wednesday. It's a tease to the eventual release of the regular-season schedule.

Here are the exhibition schedules in the AFC East:

Buffalo Bills
  • Week 1: Washington
  • Week 2: at Minnesota
  • Week: 3: Pittsburgh
  • Week 4: at Detroit
Miami Dolphins
  • Week 1: Tampa Bay
  • Week 2: at Carolina
  • Week 3: Atlanta
  • Week 4: at Dallas
New England Patriots
  • Week 1: New Orleans
  • Week 2: Philadelphia
  • Week 3: at Tampa Bay
  • Week 4: at New York Giants
New York Jets
  • Week 1: at Cincinnati
  • Week 2: New York Giants
  • Week 3: Carolina
  • Week 4: at Philadelphia

A few things stood out. For starters, we have a Super Bowl rematch between the Patriots and Giants. These teams see each other a lot in the preseason, regular season and playoffs. It's almost to the level of being division rivals. Unfortunately, this game is in the final week of the preseason, and we're going to see a ton of backups most of the game. New England also will face the Saints in Week 1 of the preseason, which marks New Orleans' first game since its bounty controversy and suspension of head coach Sean Payton.

The new-look Bills defensive line most likely will debut in the preseason against former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins. That should be a good test for Buffalo's Mario Williams and Co. Washington is expected to take Griffin with the No. 2 overall pick. The Miami-Tampa Bay preseason opener will be the NFL debuts of both Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin and Bucs head coach Greg Schiano.

Preseason slate set

April, 4, 2012
Peyton Manning's first appearance in Denver Broncos’ uniform will come against a former Denver quarterback.

The NFL announced Denver will open the preseason at Chicago and quarterback Jay Cutler. The game will be closely watched around the country. It will be Manning’s first game action since 2010. He missed all of the 2011 season with a neck injury.

Below are the preseason schedules (most of the dates have not been announced) for each AFC West team. Every team in the division but Kansas City received a national-televised game. As previously announced, the annual Oakland-San Francisco preseason game will not be played this season. There was severe fan violence at last year’s game.


Week 1 at Chicago

Week 2 vs. Seattle

Aug. 26 vs. San Francisco, 4 p.m. ET, Fox

Week 4 at Arizona

Kansas City

Week 1 vs. Arizona

Week 2 at St. Louis

Week 3 vs. Seattle

Week 4 at Green Bay


Aug. 13 vs. Dallas, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Week 2 at Arizona

Week 3 vs. Detroit

Week 4 at Seattle

San Diego

Aug. 9 vs. Green Bay, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Week 2 vs. Dallas

Week 3 at Minnesota

Week 4 at San Francisco
Assuming all goes as planned and Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are chosen with the first two picks later this month in the NFL draft (in either order), their teams will play a preseason game against each other in late August at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C. The Washington Redskins will host the Indianapolis Colts during Week 3 of the preseason, the league announced Wednesday with the release of its 2012 preseason schedule. The date and time of the game are yet to be determined, but it will be sometime between Aug. 23 and 26.

Other interesting matchups involving NFC East teams include a Week 4 Super Bowl rematch between the Patriots and the Giants at MetLife Stadium, the annual Giants-Jets game, a Cowboys trip to Oakland and an Eagles trip to Foxboro.

Full preseason schedules for all NFC East teams:

Dallas Cowboys

at Oakland, Aug. 13 (ESPN game)

at San Diego, Aug. 16-20 (date TBA)

vs Rams, Aug. 23-25 (date TBA)

vs Dolphins, Aug. 29-30 (date TBA)

New York Giants

at Jacksonville, Aug. 9-13 (date TBA)

at N.Y. Jets, Aug. 16-20 (date TBA)

vs. Bears, Aug. 24

vs. Patriots, Aug. 29-30 (date TBA)

Philadelphia Eagles

vs. Steelers, Aug. 9-13 (date TBA)

at New England, Aug. 20 (ESPN game)

at Cleveland, Aug. 23-26 (date TBA)

vs. N.Y. Jets, Aug. 29-30 (date TBA)

Washington Redskins

at Buffalo, Aug. 9-13 (date TBA)

at Chicago, Aug. 16-20 (date TBA)

vs. Colts, Aug. 23-26 (date TBA)

vs. Buccaneers, Aug. 29-30 (date TBA)

Carolina preseason schedule

April, 4, 2012
The Carolina Panthers will get something this preseason they didn’t get all of last year -- a nationally televised game.

They’ll travel to play the New York Jets at 8 p.m. ET on Aug. 26. That game will be carried on NBC. Preseason football isn’t always entertaining, but having Cam Newton and Tim Tebow on the same field should make this game attractive.

The exact dates and times for the other three preseason games haven’t been finalized yet. But the Panthers will open their preseason at home with Houston sometime between Aug. 9 and 13. They’ll follow that with another home game (Aug. 16-20) with Miami.

The Panthers will close their preseason either Aug. 29 or 30 at Pittsburgh.
A few notes after the NFL announced its preseason schedule for the 2012 season:
  • The San Francisco 49ers face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in a nationally televised game in the third week. The third week is generally when teams play their starters the longest.
  • Matt Hasselbeck and the Tennessee Titans face the Seahawks in Seattle, Hasselbeck's first game against his former team.
  • All four NFC West teams are home in the fourth week of preseason. That's a bonus heading into the regular season. Every AFC West team finishes the preseason on the road, with three of those games against NFC West teams.
  • Two of the Arizona Cardinals' five games are televised nationally, beginning with their matchup against New Orleans in the Hall of Fame Game.
  • The St. Louis Rams open the Jeff Fisher era against Indianapolis, the worst team in the NFL last season. That's what we call easing into things. The Rams should welcome the arrangement as they rebuild.
  • The NFL wasn't about to schedule another 49ers game against Oakland after violence marred the 2011 preseason game between the teams.

The chart shows each team's opponents.

New Orleans preseason schedule

April, 4, 2012
The New Orleans Saints will get plenty of national exposure in the preseason and they’ll also play an extra game.

It already had been announced the Saints will kick off the NFL’s preseason schedule against the Arizona Cardinals in the Aug. 5 Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. That game will be carried on NFL Network. The Saints also will play a nationally-televised game Aug. 25 when they host Houston in a CBS game.

The exact dates haven’t been set for the other three games. But the Saints will play at New England sometime between Aug. 9 and 13. They’ll host Jacksonville between Aug. 16 and 20. They’ll finish their preseason either Aug. 29 or Aug. 30 at Tennessee.
I can only assume you've been waiting all day for the partial announcement of the NFL's preseason schedule. We have specific dates for nationally televised games and approximations for the rest, as you'll see below. Congratulations to the backups of the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, all of whom will get an opportunity to scrimmage on national television this summer.

Chicago Bears
Week 1: Denver Broncos at Soldier Field
Week 2: Washington Redskins at Soldier Field
Week 3: at New York Giants (Aug. 24 on CBS)
Week 4: at Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions
Week 1: Cleveland Browns at Ford Field
Week 2: at Baltimore Ravens (Aug. 17 on FOX)
Week 3: at Oakland Raiders
Week 4: Buffalo Bills at Ford Field

Green Bay Packers
Week 1:
at San Diego Chargers (Aug. 9 on ESPN)
Week 2: Cleveland Browns at Lambeau Field
Week 3: at Cincinnati Bengals
Week 4: Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field

Minnesota Vikings
Week 1:
at San Francisco 49ers|
Week 2: Buffalo Bills at the Metrodome
Week 3: San Diego Chargers at the Metrodome
Week 4: at Houston Texans

Preseason games televised on ESPN

April, 4, 2012
Four preseason games will be televised on ESPN, it was announced Wednesday.
  • Thurs., Aug. 9: Green Bay at San Diego, 8 p.m. ET
  • Mon., Aug. 13: Dallas at Oakland, 8 p.m. ET
  • Mon., Aug. 20: Philadelphia at New England, 8 p.m. ET
  • Thurs., Aug. 23: Arizona at Tennessee, 8 p.m. ET

Tampa Bay preseason schedule

April, 4, 2012
The NFL is supposed to announce its complete preseason schedule Wednesday. I haven’t seen the complete release yet, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just announced their schedule.

Exact dates haven’t been finalized yet, but Greg Schiano will begin his coaching career some time between Aug. 9 and 13 with a game at Miami. That also will be the first game for Dolphins coach Joe Philbin. Schiano will make his home debut against Tennessee some time between Aug. 16 and 20. The third game will be against New England (Aug. 23 to 26) at home. That one has special significance because Schiano is close to New England coach Bill Belichick and has called him a mentor.

The preseason finale will be at Washington on either Aug. 29 or 30.

I'll be back shortly with preseason schedules for the Saints, Falcons and Panthers.
Here are the 2012 preseason schedules for the AFC North teams:

  • Week 1 (TBA) vs. N.Y. Jets
  • Thursday, Aug. 16 at Atlanta
  • Week 3 (TBA) vs. Green Bay
  • Week 4 (TBA) at Indianapolis
  • Week 1 (TBA) at Detroit
  • Week 2 (TBA) at Green Bay
  • Week 3 (TBA) vs. Philadelphia
  • Week 4 (TBA) vs. Chicago
  • Thursday, Aug. 9 at Atlanta
  • Friday, Aug. 17 vs. Detroit
  • Thursday, Aug. 23 vs. Jacksonville
  • Thursday, Aug. 30 at St. Louis
  • Week 1 (TBA) at Philadelphia
  • Sunday, Aug. 19 vs. Indianapolis
  • Week 3 (TBA) at Buffalo
  • Week 4 (TBA) vs. Carolina