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Matt Starkey/Cleveland Browns

2023 NFL Preseason: Week 2 Takeaways

Week 2 of the NFL preseason unfortunately included various players being carted off and other injuries, but below are my general thoughts from all the action.


Browns 18, Eagles 18

The 2023 NFL Draft had a bunch of unbelievable values, and two of the top ones went head-to-head with Browns right tackle Dawand Jones (drafted No. 111 overall; No. 21 on Wolf Sports big board) taking on Eagles pass rusher Nolan Smith (drafted No. 30 overall; No. 9 on Wolf Sports big board). Jones continued to be a wall for Cleveland, but Smith showed his talent with relentless pursuit and rare movement skills for a defensive player.


Giants 21, Panthers 19

As stated last week, this preseason has not gone well if you want underrated fantasy football options to not rise, as Darren Waller was fed by Daniel Jones in their lone drive—resulting in three receptions for 30 yards. The addition of Waller is huge for New York’s offense, and he will essentially be their No. 1 wideout this year.


Bengals 13, Falcons 13

Bijan Robinson looks like an immediate star, and the Falcons would be wise to fully unleash him as their offensive centerpiece if they want to compete in 2023. But the team should also be very happy about cornerback Clark Phillips III being sticky in coverage out of the slot for his first NFL game action after sitting out the preseason opener.


Jaguars 25, Lions 7

The depth of the Jacksonville backfield should be a major strength for them this year, as Tank Bigsby again impressed (13 carries for 70 yards), and D’Ernest Johnson also starred with six carries for 36 yards and two touchdowns. The skillsets of Bigsby and Johnson complement Travis Etienne Jr. well, so the Jags might want to get their starter more involved as a pass-catcher in space to balance the touches.


Dolphins 28, Texans 3

C.J. Stroud was able to get into a groove with a few accurate throws, but there were early struggles for the second week in a row—including a delay of game penalty from the one-yard line. Remember, Houston traded their 2024 first-round pick to get both Stroud and Will Anderson Jr., so the pressure will be on the No. 2 overall pick to have quick success when the real games begin.


Steelers 27, Bills 15

Pittsburgh has become a perennially underrated team under Mike Tomlin, but the ceiling should be raised significantly with Kenny Pickett—who threw a dime touchdown to Pat Freiermuth on Saturday—primed to make a substantial leap. The Steelers have star-caliber players all over the place on both sides of the ball.


Colts 24, Bears 17

I strongly disagree with the Colts not giving Anthony Richardson any game reps against the Bears, but maybe it was because they have a short week before facing the Eagles on Thursday night. Instead, both Gardner Minshew (13-of-15 for 107 yards and a touchdown) and Sam Ehlinger (nine-of-14 for 124 yards; eight carries for 60 yards and one touchdown) played efficient football, and the newly signed James Washington hauled in a 42-yard grab and could push for a roster spot.


Buccaneers 13, Jets 6

Undrafted rookie running back Sean Tucker seeing work in the first quarter for the Buccaneers bodes well for his chances of making the roster, and Tampa Bay also had contributions from sixth-rounder Trey Palmer (33-yard touchdown) for the second week in a row. The offense should be very top-heavy no matter who the quarterback is, but having players that can step up behind Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Rachaad White, and Cade Otton would be big.


Patriots 21, Packers 17

Hopefully we get an expanded look at the New England offense on Friday night, but Rhamondre Stevenson looked great (Ezekiel Elliott didn’t suit up), and Kendrick Bourne made plays to solidify his spot as a clear starter alongside JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeVante Parker. If the pass protection holds up, Mac Jones should have an excellent season in 2023.


Titans 24, Vikings 16

Malik Willis played the whole game on Saturday with Will Levis being held out at less than 100%, and despite struggles through the air (10-of-17 for 85 yards, one touchdown, and one interception), he was able to make things happen with 11 carries for 91 yards. Overall, the Titans rushed for 281 yards in the win, which might be a preview of how they’d have to play if Ryan Tannehill gets injured at some point.


Chiefs 38, Cardinals 10

All four of Kansas City’s quarterbacks were terrific on Saturday night, and second-rounder Rashee Rice—after a drop on a target from Mahomes—was able to rack up eight receptions for 96 yards. Overall, there were 17 players to catch a pass, and Andy Reid’s offense will be an absolute headache to defend with the receiving corps being deeper than ever.


49ers 21, Broncos 20

The biggest takeaway for both San Francisco and Denver was the health of their offensive starters, as Brock Purdy returned from shoulder surgery well in advance of the opener, and Javonte Williams beat all expectations to not only suit up, but also catch four passes (in addition to three carries). Also, Deebo Samuel appeared very explosive on his two receptions for 39 yards.


Raiders 34, Rams 17

Davante Adams playing exactly one snap was funny, but the Raiders winning in the trenches was again the takeaway for me. If the full starting groups on offense and defense bring the mentality that the backups have played with into the regular season, the Raiders can make noise—especially considering the history of success for teams when Jimmy Garoppolo is under center.


Seahawks 22, Cowboys 14

We shouldn’t overreact to preseason action, but Seattle had a home-run rookie class in 2022, and the early impression of the 2023 class has been more of the same. On Saturday night, we saw Zach Charbonnet (three carries for 31 yards), Jake Bobo (26-yard reception from Geno Smith), and Derick Hall (1.0 sack) all make an impact.


Saints 22, Chargers 17

Rookie running back Kendre Miller injured his knee in the first preseason game, but he surprisingly played last night and showed his ability—diving for a reception on a wheel route and following it up with a burst up the middle for six. The mindset of Miller can help him carve out a role behind Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams in Year 1.


Commanders 29, Ravens 28

The 24-game preseason winning streak for Baltimore was snapped thanks to late-game heroics from Jake Fromm and the Washington offense—with Joey Slye hitting a 49-yard field goal in the final seconds to cap off the second of two clutch drives in the fourth quarter. Fromm was delivering strikes and dropping dimes in limited action, and I’m convinced he can be a very good starting quarterback at the NFL level if given the opportunity.