NFL preseason scores, schedule, updates, news: Rodgers hits new toy for Packers TD

Eighteen teams hit the field on Saturday as the preseason slate is stuffed with nine games, starting with the
Carolina Panthers
facing the Titans at 3 p.m. We’ll keep you updated right here all throughout the day with everything you need to know from today’s action.

Scores and schedule


Philadelphia Eagles
 20,
Buffalo Bills
16 (box score)

Baltimore Ravens
 31,
Miami Dolphins
7 (box score)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
 12,
Jacksonville Jaguars
 8 (box score)

Seattle Seahawks
20, 
Minnesota Vikings
 13  (box score)

Tennessee Titans
 34, Panthers 27 (box score)

Kansas City Chiefs
at
Cincinnati Bengals
, 7 p.m. Sat. (GameTracker)

Indianapolis Colts
at
Dallas Cowboys
, 7 p.m. Sat. (GameTracker)

New York Jets
at
Detroit Lions
, 7:30 p.m. Sat. (GameTracker)

Green Bay Packers
at
Washington Redskins
, 7:30 p.m. Sat. (GameTracker)

New England Patriots
at
Houston Texans
, 8 p.m. Sat. (GameTracker)

Denver Broncos
at
San Francisco 49ers
, 10 p.m. Sat (GameTracker)

Los Angeles Rams
at
Oakland Raiders
, 10 p.m. Sat. (GameTracker)

Chicago Bears
at
Arizona Cardinals
, 10 p.m. Sat. (GameTracker)

Atlanta Falcons
at
Pittsburgh Steelers
, 4 p.m. Sun. (GameTracker)

New Orleans Saints
at
Los Angeles Chargers
, 8 p.m. Sun. (GameTracker)

New York Giants
at
Cleveland Browns
, 8 p.m. Mon. (GameTracker)

Hack never had a chance

The Christian Hackenberg experiment continues to go poorly. Hackenberg started Saturday for the Jets against the Lions, with the hope being that he could manage to start and put some throws together, maybe put a little heat on Josh McCown, maybe give Jets fans some hope.

Nope. Not the case at all. 

Hackenberg finished the first half going 2-for-6 for 14 yards with a 42.6 passer rating. It appears the only source of offense this year for the Jets will be Bilal Powell.

Todd Bowles would have you believe it’s not all his fault, and that’s why Hackenberg is being pulled from the game at the break. 

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That might be true, but it is going to be a hard sell to give Hackenberg time moving forward unless the Jets’ plan is to have him lead them to the No. 1 pick. 

That’s now 11 possessions with exactly zero points for Hackenberg this preseason. The Jets are going to be shopping for another quarterback come next May.

So maybe he’ll be getting playing time after all. 

Where does Rodgers get those wonderful toys?

Aaron Rodgers is not a man who needs more weapons. But Ted Thompson decided to buck his usual offseason convention this year and go out to sign a new one anyway, bringing in tight end Martellus Bennett. It paid immediate dividends, with Rodgers finding Bennett for a three-yard touchdown that exemplifies exactly why the Packers brought him in.

After Mike McCarthy successfully challenged a too-many-men-on-the-field situation, the Packers got to continue their opening drive. Rodgers sliced and diced the Redskins defense down to the 3-yard line. No sooner did Joe Theismann, broadcasting for the Redskins, say he’s not sure how Bennett would fit into this offense than did Bennett find himself lined up with linebacker Zach Brown on the outside of the formation. 

Rodgers was not going to miss exploiting that mismatch.

The Packers are going to want to let Bennett, who is a strong run blocker as well, diversify their formations. But they’re also going to want to use him as a short-yardage red-zone weapon. Good luck covering him with a linebacker like that. 

Dak delivers early against Colts


Dak Prescott
picked up right where he left off during his 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign, even though
Ezekiel Elliott
wasn’t on the field for the Week 2 preseason game due to his suspension. With
Darren McFadden
in the backfield, Dak promptly took charge of the offense, completing four passes on the Cowboys opening drive, including a deep touchdown to Dez Bryant. Get that X up. 

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Prescott had that pass to Bryant, another 23-yard strike to Dez and a pair of passes to tight end
Jason Witten
for 24 total yards on the first drive. Dallas probably would have scored a second touchdown — the Cowboys were marching — but a McFadden fumble on the Colts side of the field brought the drive to a halt. 

Just like last year, you watch Prescott play and he just looks like he’s comfortable, like he belongs on the field. There wasn’t that question like there was before 2016, but expecting a sophomore slump may be betting against an incredibly talented individual. 

Prescott exited after two drives, going 7-for-8 for 106 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

Smith starting at MLB for Cowboys

It’s been almost 600 days since
Jaylon Smith
last played in a football game (598 to be exact), and on Saturday night, the Cowboys linebacker, who fell to the second round of the draft after a horrific injury against
Ohio State Buckeyes
in the Fiesta Bowl two seasons ago, will be back on the field for the first time since his injury.

NFL Network’s Jane Slater reported the news and added that Smith will wear a brace on his leg.

“He is going to start at the middle linebacker position tonight,” Slater reported on Total Access. “Now he is going to be playing with a brace on that ankle. That’s going to … keep him close to the ground, help him accelerate when he’s running.”

At
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
, Smith was a highlight machine on the defensive side of the ball, piling up tackles and routinely making game-changing plays. He was a top-five talent until he was hurt in the team’s bowl game.

The Cowboys were willing to gamble on his talent and the hope of getting him right from a medical standpoint, allowing 2016 to be a medical redshirt season. When he takes the field, we’ll find out if Dallas was wise in its investment.

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At the very least, it’s a fantastic story to see Smith get the chance to start pretty soon after what could have been a career-ending injury.

Panthers tantalize Fantasy owners with McCaffrey usage

If you are contemplating using an early-round pick on Panthers running back
Christian McCaffrey
, you are going to enjoy Saturday’s highlights of the rookie’s performance against the Titans in Nashville. The Panthers deployed him perfectly, utilizing him in the short passing game, getting him in space and letting him run as a featured back in the red zone (which resulted in a touchdown). The only downside is this means his ADP is going to go through the roof. 

Mariota looks sharp early

Tennessee has high expectations in 2017, but there were concerns about quarterback
Marcus Mariota
coming off a season where he suffered a broken leg. The first two series with Mariota against the dangerous Carolina defense was encouraging. Mariota, who suffered a broken leg late during the 2016 season, started against Carolina and looked sharp early over the course of several possessions.

The first two play calls actually came from fans who donated $10,000 for the right to call plays. Shoutout to the person who had Mariota run a quarterback sneak. Good move for your quarterback coming off an injury.

The Titans’ creative offense is nothing short of remarkable. Anything engineered by Mike Mularkey shouldn’t be much more than vanilla, but he’s created an array of different formations to keep even the stoutest of defenses on its heels. In a way it’s reminiscent of how the Panthers ran their offense in 2015. 

And it showed in a pair of drives that yielded a total of 10 points. The Titans mixed together throws and runs, as Mariota went 6 for 8 for 61 yards and a score.
Derrick Henry
was effective, albeit not explosive, until the third Titans drive when he ripped off a 17-yard touchdown run following a
Derek Anderson
interception.

It’s worth noting the Panthers did a nice job tightening up in the red zone, as Tennessee struggled to punch the ball in. After picking up a first down on 4th-and-2 from the 6-yard line, the Titans needed three more plays to get their first touchdown. Carolina limited Tennessee to a field goal on the first possession. 

And the Panthers would probably like to have the defensive play call back from the 4th-and-2 that led to the touchdown.

screen-shot-2017-08-19-at-3-48-44-pm.png


via NFL GamePass

All in all, Titans supporters should be thrilled with the way that the offense looked in the early going. If Week 2’s preseason action is any indication, Tennessee should be picking up right where it left off last year.

Newton missing again in Week 2

Anyone hoping to see
Cam Newton
on the field during Week 2 of the preseason will be disappointed, as the Panthers quarterback is not going to play against the Titans in Nashville (3 p.m. ET on NFL Network).

Newton’s continued absence will surely spark some concern with folks following the situation, but it sounds like Newton is on pace when it comes to his offseason throwing schedule and recovery from shoulder surgery. Bill Voth of Panthers.com reports that Newton’s “recovery from offseason shoulder surgery remains on track,” he “is scheduled to increase his workload in practice” and “he could make his preseason debut Thursday night in Jacksonville.”

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network previously reported that Cam wants to play but the Panthers are taking things cautiously and trying to keep him on the planned track.

The Panthers also said that
Luke Kuechly
will not play in Saturday’s game.

Previously in Week 2 of the preseason

The Seahawks won their game against the Vikings on Friday but suffered a pretty big loss too, as left tackle
George Fant
was lost for the season with a knee injury. You can read about that plus
Michael Bennett
continuing his protest,
Russell Wilson
and
Sam Bradford
looking sharp,
Dalvin Cook
excelling and
Blair Walsh
‘s revenge in Friday’s roundup.

The big news Thursday was
Jay Cutler
making his Dolphins debut out of coming out of retirement, and while the stats don’t reflect it, the former Bears quarterback looked sharp. Also on Thursday,
Ryan Mallett
was outplayed in what could be an important race to be Baltimore’s backup QB,
Tyrod Taylor
endured a horrible first-half performance and 
Blake Bortles
got booed after another terrible outing that could put him on the hot seat before the season even begins. You can read about those performances plus even more on the day’s action in Thursday’s roundup.

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