Highlights and results from Thursday’s preseason action.
2nd quarter: Buccaneers 9, Bengals 6
Jameis Winston and Mike Evans probably won’t play much, but it only took them about a minute to remind us that they can be a deadly combination.
Look at Vernon Hargreaves with the toe tap. Whew.
The first touchdown of the night in Cincinnati was a Ryan Fitzpatrick rushing touchdown just like everyone expected.
Roberto Aguayo then missed the extra point try. That’s not a good way to get his second preseason started.
On the other side, rookie Jake Elliott is battling Randy Bullock for Cincinnati’s kicking job. They’re both doing ok for themselves, nailing 45- and 54-yard field goals in the first half, respectively.
3rd quarter: Giants 12, Steelers 10
We probably won’t get to see Odell Beckham Jr. in the Giants’ preseason opener, but he went ahead and dazzled anyway before the game.
Pittsburgh hopes T.J. Watt can bring the same star power that his older brother, J.J., brought to the Texans. Well he’s off to a good start with a sack on his first defensive drive in a Steelers uniform to force a Giants punt.
Oft-criticized Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers gave up the sack, but it really wasn’t his fault. The rest of the Steelers defensive line forced Johnson to run straight in to Watt. Either way, guess who took notice:
Just a few minutes later, Watt got his second sack when the Giants defense decided not to block him:
He’ll have to actually beat opposing lineman to be a success in the NFL, but there’s no doubt this is the kind of start that the Steelers can be excited about.
Joshua Dobbs, on the other hand, started his game with a couple unimpressive drives and then an ugly interception.
Dobbs threw another interception in the second quarter when a Giants defensive lineman surprised him by dropping into coverage.
The first big highlight for Dobbs didn’t come until later in the second quarter when he had a nice connection with Cobi Hamilton:
He finished off the half with a nice touchdown pass. Altogether, we could probably call it a C performance for Dobbs.
Geno Smith looked like he was beating Josh Johnson in the race to be Eli Manning’s backup. But Smith ruined a lot of that momentum with an interception caught by Arthur Moats. It appeared to be a miscommunication with Travis Rudolph, so it’s anyone’s guess who was at fault on the play.
Before the games
It’s preseason time in the NFL. While we’re a month away from the regular season (and about two weeks away from being sick of preseason), there’s still the excitement of football returning and a chance to see your favorite players for the first time since January.
Week 1 of the preseason has been a slow rollout, with one game on Wednesday night and six more on Thursday. There are three games taking place Friday night, all with varying levels of intrigue even if the starters won’t be playing much.
The first game up features the Steelers taking on the Giants, with both teams looking to build on last year’s playoff campaigns. Rookie Joshua Dobbs will start in place of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. They also won’t have Le’Veon Bell, who is holding out and still hasn’t signed his franchise tender, but they’re potentially getting back Martavis Bryant after he sat out 2016 with a suspension.
The second game will see the Bucs playing the Bengals, who were snakebitten by injuries last season. Cincinnati revamped its offense with the additions of rookies Joe Mixon and John Ross, although Ross will probably sit this one out after missing the offseason program with shoulder surgery. Mixon will be aiming to beat out Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard for the starting RB job. A.J. Green might also be limited after a torn hamstring ended his 2016 season early. The Bucs don’t have any big injury concerns at the moment, though the backfield is one to watch with Doug Martin suspended for the first three games.
In the final game of the evening, the rebuilding 49ers face the Chiefs, who are shaking off a turbulent offseason that included general manager John Dorsey surprisingly getting fired despite two straight playoff appearances. The other big story in K.C. is Patrick Mahomes, the first-round QB who could overtake Alex Smith if he has a strong preseason. Look for Mahomes to get plenty of snaps here as the Chiefs break him in.
Complete Friday schedule (all times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Giants, 7 p.m., NFL Network (Behind the Steel Curtain | Big Blue View)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 7:30 p.m. (Bucs Nation | Cincy Jungle)
San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 9 p.m., NFL Network (Niners Nation | Arrowhead Pride)