sports 4 days ago

Four takeaways from the first big night of the NFL preseason

Sporting News — alexis.mansanarez@performgroup.com (Alexis Mansanarez)

With the first day of preseason came the usual overreactions, but after it was all said and done there were some key moments for teams and players the football world has been keeping their eye on. Can Baker Mayfield be the key for the Browns? The Patriots will recover from their Super Bowl loss, right? A new look in the Pacific Northwest isn’t as bad as one might have thought. The return of (insert injured players name here) was low key as expected, but nonetheless exciting after their 2017 seasons were cut short.

Could the Browns be...good?

It’s early, yes, it’s very early but the roster of quarterbacks Cleveland put together served the Browns well in their preseason opener. With rookie Baker Mayfield as well as former Buffalo Bill Tyrod Taylor, the Browns have added depth in the pocket — and with it hopefully a winning season, which is something Cleveland hasn't seen since 2007.

How about those Patriots?

Well, New England rebounded from its Super Bowl 52 loss with a 26-17 win over Washington on Thursday. But the Patriots performance wasn't great, just ask Bill Belichick.

“We need to do pretty much everything better,” Belichick said after the team's outing, via CBS Boston. “Just not good enough in any area."

According to Belichick, New England only played “about 38 seconds of good football.”

Legion of who?

The Seahawks defense may have a new look, but as far as production goes things look promising in the Pacific Northwest. No matter the outcome of their first preseason game — remember, it's still early — the Seahawks have some fresh faces who are causing the 12's to look past the legendary Legion of Boom. 

Rookie Shaquem Griffin was one of those players. Griffin joined his brother, Shaquill, as a member of Seattle's defense and put on quite a show in his debut. In the first four plays, the fifth-round pick recorded four tackles. As the second half started, Shaquem Griffin tied for a team-high five tackles.

Welcome back, Andrew Luck (and others)

Speaking of Seattle, a familiar face made his NFL return. Andrew Luck, who hadn't played in more than 580 days, finally settled in the pocket for Indianapolis. 

The 2012 No. 1-overall pick suited up for the first time since Jan. 1, 2017. Earlier in the week he told ESPN, “there were one or two moments where I wondered if I am ever going to be able to do this again."

His long recovery and rehab from a shoulder injury was just one of many returns Thursday.

“Certainly this (preseason game) isn’t what I’ve been working toward the whole time, but sort of in the same vein, it is another step in this journey and one that is sort of about the next one right now," Luck added. "That’s really exciting and that’s fun.”

Also making his 2018 debut was Deshaun Watson, whose rookie campaign was ended early after an ACL tear in his right knee last November. Watson's preseason stint was short lived as he was only 1 of 1 for four yards in the Texans' 17-10 victory over the Chiefs. Houston's J.J. Watt also returned after suffering a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg in October 2017.

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