Carson Palmer played three drives on Sunday in Houston and two of them ended with interceptions. The team’s starting offense has looked disjointed throughout the preseason. And it will all be completely forgotten in two weeks.
Here’s what we did manage to learn during three games Sunday as Preseason Week 3 wrapped up:
1. Arians might be more worried about his defense. After two sluggish preseason outings, Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler looked terrific against Arizona against little pressure. He had only two incompletions in 13 attempts while pushing the ball down the field, especially in three beautiful throws to rookie Will Fuller.
2. While Fuller dropped one of those deep throws, the first-round pick has quickly looked the part of a No. 2 wide receiver across from DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller and fellow rookie Braxton Miller combined for six catches and 96 yards, including Fuller’s 26-yard score. Miller has seamlessly jumped right into the Texans offense as the starting slot receiver. Offseason hype candidate Jaelen Strong is stuck at No. 4 in a suddenly deep receiver group.
3. It was also telling that Texans rookie running back Tyler Ervin got so many snaps with the first team. He’s going to be the primary backup and third down back behind Lamar Miller. He’s shown impressive niftiness and burst in the preseason.
4. Cardinals cornerback Mike Jenkins was carted off the field after a non-contact knee injury. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said last week Jenkins had a chance to start opposite Patrick Peterson. It’s a thin position for the Cardinals, who will rely on rookie Brandon Williams and veteran Justin Bethel, who had a rough night in his return from foot surgery.
5. The most notable part of Sunday night’s Bengals-Jaguars game could prove to be a non-story. Bengals receiver A.J. Green left the game in the first quarter with a right knee injury after limping off the field. He stayed on the sideline standing throughout the game and the team said it was not serious. (Then again, that’s what the Cowboys said about Tony Romo’s injury.)
6. The Bengals’ starters look regular-season ready, especially Andy Dalton. Cincinnati out-gained Jacksonville 122-14 in the first quarter while Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard continued to look exceedingly sharp heading into the regular season.
Kamar Aiken, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Steve Smith Sr. is the greatest player in the history of the NFL. I am in no way disrespecting him here. But Aiken was really good down the stretch last season. Aiken had 75-944-5 at the end of last year, and I don’t see him ceding this gig to any of the veteran options (looking at you, too, Mike Wallace and/or Breshad Perriman) and he’s going to end up as the top receiving option for this team.
Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants
I’m not sure how the Giants were able to land the Odell Beckham Jr. of this year’s draft. Here’s what teams should do; find out who the Giants like at receiver and then draft him. The Giants are like the kid on your block who had both Xbox and PlayStation. We all hated that kid. But don’t hate these Giants. I know some of you might be scared about him not getting enough targets and such. But Rueben Randle had like 797 yards and eight touchdowns. Dude (or ladies), Shepard > Randle. By a lot. So I could see both Giants receivers have great years. OBJ steps into another stratosphere. Shepard tags along as a 1,000-yard 8 touchdown guy.
Martellus Bennett, TE, New England Patriots
The Patriots have longed to reemploy the two-tight end strategy they had a few years ago. Now they have the guy who can get it done. I don’t see Bennett taking away anything from Gronk. He plays a different game. Bennett stretches the field. Both can work in tandem to be effective. And the trend says anytime the Bears trade away a tight end, he does pretty well. (I know I’ve bashed Mike Martz for this previously, but it warrants mentioning again for anybody who missed it. Nice move, guy.)
Bonus nugget for Bennett is the early reports have him working really well with Jimmy Garoppolo. So he could be in store for a monster opening to the season. His ADP is ridiculously low, too. Which makes no sense to me. I get Coby Fleener, yeah. He’s going to be great. But don’t sleep on Bennett.