Sat Aug 13 9:26pm ET
By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) hands off to running back Nyheim Hines (21) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Buffalo Bills punter Matt Araiza, left, celebrates with place-kicker Tyler Bass, right, after Bass kicked the go-ahead field goal in the second half of a preseason NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bills won 27-24. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Matt Barkley (11) celebrates with running back Duke Johnson, right, after Johnson scored 2-point conversion in the second half of the team's preseason NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. The Bills won 27-24. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jelani Woods (80) celebrates his touchdown reception against the Buffalo Bills with wide receiver D.J. Montgomery (8) and tight end Andrew Ogletree (85) during the second half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke, back left, and safety Julian Blackmon (32) force a fumble on Buffalo Bills wide receiver Jake Kumerow (15), center, during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)
Indianapolis Colts running back Ty'Son Williams (43) runs into the end zone for a touchdown during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)
Buffalo Bills running back Zack Moss (20) runs with the ball as Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II (23) tries to get a grip on him during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) passes under pressure from Buffalo Bills defensive end Boogie Basham (55) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Buffalo Bills quarterback Case Keenum (18) passes during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Matt Ryan can finally put the Falcons behind him.
Whether it was seeing his name on the back of a No. 2 Colts jersey hanging in his locker, or completing his first attempt - a 6-yarder to tight end Kylen Granson - the 37-year-old quarterback feels as if his transition to Indianapolis is complete.
''I'm part of this team and there's 30, 40 other guys that it was their first time playing with the Colts today,'' Ryan said following a 27-24 preseason-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills on Saturday. ''We all got it under under our belt for the first time. And I think all of us, that entire group of new guys here is going to feel a lot better heading into next week.''
The Colts can begin feeling more comfortable following Ryan's debut, which reflected many of his pass attempts: relatively short and efficient.
With Von Miller and the rest of the Bills starting defense sitting out, Ryan finished 6 of 10 for 58 yards, with two of his incompletions coming on fourth down. More importantly, the 15-year veteran didn't commit a turnover while showing a nimbleness in the pocket by avoiding a defender to hit Michael Pittman in stride on a crossing route for a 17-yard completion.
''I thought he looked poised in the pocket. I thought he looked accurate. I thought every throw was pretty much right where it needed to be,'' coach Frank Reich said. ''I expected to see him do that, and he certainly delivered.''
Tyler Bass made a 46-yard field goal as time expired as Buffalo scored on three consecutive possessions in the final 8:10 to rally from a 14-point deficit. Matt Barkley oversaw the comeback in finishing 18 of 24 for 224 yards, with Raheem Blackshear rushing for touchdowns of 1 and 3 yards over a span of 4:19 to tie the game.
Buffalo won its ninth straight preseason outing, which ranks as the NFL's second-longest active streak behind the Baltimore Ravens who have won a league-record 21 in a row.
Coach Sean McDermott took the good - the come-from-behind win - with the bad in an outing Buffalo committed five turnovers, including four in the first half.
''It was good to see us come together a little bit as a team and play better complementary football in the second half,'' McDermott said. ''Obviously, the turnovers and penalties in the first half can't happen.''
With Buffalo also resting Josh Allen and its starting offense, the struggles fell on backup Case Keenum, who threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Keenum's performance was a disappointment for a player the Bills are counting on to be Allen's backup after acquiring the 10-year veteran in a trade with Cleveland. He finished 11 of 18 for 86 yards with his second interception coming one play after Bills safety Jaquan Johnson picked off Foles to give Buffalo the ball at the Colts 15.
''To go out and do that, that was uncharacteristic of me. I take full responsibility for all of those,'' Keenum said. ''Any time we don't score a touchdown when we have the ball in our hands, it makes me mad. So there's a lot of stuff I need to get better at.
Under Keenum, the Bills managed just 119 net yards offense and five first downs in the first half, with Buffalo's only score coming on rookie linebacker Terrel Bernard returning Nick Foles' fumble 69 yards for a touchdown.
Foles, who also threw an interception, finished 7 of 11 for 72 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to an uncovered running back Ty'Son Williams.
Sam Ehlinger, the Colts' sixth-round pick out of Texas last year, finished 10 of 11 for 88 yards with touchdown passes to tight ends Jelani Woods and Michael Jacobson.
Ryan is set to become the Colts' fourth different opening day starter in as many years since Andrew Luck retired. He takes over after Indianapolis parted ways with Carson Wentz, who took the blame for the Colts squandering their playoff chances by losing their final two games, including a 26-11 season-ending dud at Jacksonville.
Reich provided Ryan the preseason start in part to provide the starter an extra chance to ramp up for the season-opener at Houston on Sept. 11. Reich is also mindful of how the Colts got off to a slow start in opening last season 1-4 under Wentz.
ROOKIE VS ROOKIE
Bills first-round draft pick, CB Kaiir Elam, got the better of Colts second-round draft pick, WR Alec Pierce, in forcing Indianapolis to go three-and-out on its opening possession. Elam stayed tight to Pierce on a slant route and got his hand on Ryan's attempt on third-and-3 at the Colts 12.
Colts: CB Isaiah Rodgers who had an interception and recovered a fumble, did not return after sustaining a head injury in the first half. ... WR Keke Coutee did not return due to a groin injury.
Bills: Elam returned after being evaluated for a head injury late in the second quarter.
Colts: Host the Detroit Lions on Aug. 20.
Bills: Host the Denver Broncos on Aug. 20.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky completed four of seven passes for 63 yards and a touchdown in his team's Saturday preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. Trubisky connected with wideout Gunner Olszewski for a 13-yard score in the first quarter while adding a four-yard run. He played on Pittsburgh's first two offensive drives before taking a seat for the rest of the evening. Trubisky has the inside track on the starting quarterback job in Pittsburgh, although his grip on the job isn't going to be very firm with first-round pick Kenny Pickett waiting in the wings. Fantasy gamers should treat Trubisky as a high-end QB3 in fantasy drafts for the upcoming season.
Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins (knee) is expected to return to practice on Monday, head coach John Harbaugh relayed to James Palmer of NFL Network. Dobbins was recently activated from the PUP list but has yet to take the field for an official practice session as the team continues to exercise caution. Dobbins missed all of 2021 with a torn ACL but, as of now, is expected to suit up come Week 1 of his age-23 season. The Ohio State product impressed as a rookie in 2020, totaling 805 rushing yards, 120 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. He should be viewed as a mid-to-low RB2 option ahead of upcoming fantasy drafts.
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett could replace the starting quarterback (most likely Mitchell Trubisky, but possibly Mason Rudolph) in the first half of the season, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. Kaboly identified Week 4 against the Jets as a good target date for Pickett's debut since the Steelers will have extra practice coming off the Thursday night game and the Jets aren't an entirely scary opponent. He also sees Week 10 as a natural possibility since the Steelers have a Week 9 bye. "Pickett will eventually get his chance," Kaboly writes. "Over the past decade, first-round quarterbacks have almost always started a game during their rookie years." Pickett can be left on waivers in most redraft leagues for now, though he has significant appeal in dynasty formats.
San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Danny Gray is experiencing hip and back soreness following Friday's preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. He is expected to miss a couple of days of practice. Gray made a big impression during Friday's win, catching two of four targets for 99 yards. His biggest play was a fantastic 76-yard score in which he used his speed to beat coverage and find the end zone with ease. The third-round pick is listed fourth on the Niners' depth chart but continues to compete for meaningful snaps. His athleticism and big-play ability could make him an instant favorite in San Francisco's flashy offense.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver DJ Moore was held out of Saturday's preseason game against the Washington Commanders due to shoulder soreness, according to Schuyler Callihan of SI Now. Moore, just 25 years old, has been the Panthers' top receiver for several seasons in a row. Just last year, despite dealing with poor quarterback play from Sam Darnold, Cam Newton, and P.J. Walker, he racked up 1,157 yards and four touchdowns. He is expected to improve in 2022 now that the Panthers have made a slight improvement at quarterback. Moore should be viewed as a mid-to-high WR2 option heading into fantasy drafts.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has set a Week 1 deadline for a contract extension as negotiations continue between him and the team. Specifically, when asked if he would put a pause on negotiations when the season starts, the star quarterback said, "Yeah, for sure." Jackson likely won't see too much preseason action, but there's no denying that he has overall QB1 upside if things go right and he can stay healthy. The quarterback battled an ankle injury last season but is ready to go for 2022.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor could see a reduction in volume this coming season, according to Stephen Holder of ESPN. According to Holder, head coach Frank Reich told him that the goal is to win a championship, not to make Taylor the MVP or rushing leader. If they need to cut back on his volume in order to accomplish that, so be it. "You don't see teams that have this ground-and-pound run game win championships," he said. "Our best formula is to be balanced. I'm not saying he won't lead the league in touches, because you never know how things are going to play out. But I almost don't want him to." This shouldn't completely deter fantasy managers from drafting Taylor at the 1.01 this draft season, but it's still worth mentioning considering the Colts have discussed reducing his workload for a while now. The team wants to get Nyheim Hines involved, and the passing game looks like it is trending up, too.
New York Giants second-year wide receiver Kadarius Toney (knee) suffered a setback in training camp that caused him to miss the preseason opener, but he could return to practice in the next few days, head coach Brian Daboll told the team's official website. "He worked really hard coming from the offseason to get to where he is right now," Daboll said. "Hopefully these next few days will calm it down and we'll be ready to go again." Depending on how the offense shakes out, Toney could be the most intriguing wide receiver on the team, especially from a fantasy perspective. He can be used all over the field and offers an exciting blend of speed and athleticism. He totaled 420 yards through 10 games last year, though parts of those games were spent in the medical tent or locker room. If he can stay healthy, he has high-end WR3 upside in 2022.
New York Jets running back Michael Carter got the nominal start in Friday's preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Carter ended up running the ball three times for five yards and adding one catch for seven yards. Carter worked with the first team offense until quarterback Zach Wilson was forced to leave the game with an injury. He did split time with rookie running back Breece Hall though, and it remains unclear what this backfield timeshare will look like. Still, it was good to see Carter running the ball just a few weeks out from his injury. He should be good to go on all cylinders by Week 1, but his fantasy value depends entirely on how much of the backfield he'll get. Preseason game two against the Atlanta Falcons should give us all a better idea of how things will go for the Jets runners.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Justin Watson was targeted a team-high six times in Saturday's preseason loss to the Bears. He caught five of those passes for 45 yards and a touchdown from quarterback Shane Buechele. Watson played with both Buechele and second-string quarterback Chad Henne in the game, a potential sign that Watson is leading the race for the No. 5 receiver role on this team. While there's not much standalone fantasy value in that role, Watson is someone to keep an eye on as the season goes along in case other players in the Chiefs' new-look receiving corps struggle or deal with injuries.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Ronald Jones saw the field in Saturday's preseason loss to the Bears, but it wasn't with the starters. Most of his work came with third-string quarterback Shane Buechele in the game. Jones ended the day with four carries for just one yard. While Jones was viewed as a potential starter when the Chiefs signed him earlier this year, he appears to at least be behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Isiah Pacheco in the pecking order at running back. Fantasy managers might want to reconsider drafting Jones at his current ADP.
New York Jets rookie running back Breece Hall got five carries in Friday's preseason game, gaining 15 yards. Hall was listed third on the Jets running back depth chart, and played behind starter Michael Carter. Carter and Hall both worked with the first team offense before quarterback Zach Wilson left with a knee injury. Opening preseason play behind Carter isn't the best sign for Hall's rookie season usage, but the first preseason game also shouldn't be looked into too deeply. Next week's game against the Falcons will be more telling.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Skyy Moore saw work with the second and third-team quarterbacks on Saturday in the team's preseason loss to the Bears. Moore was targeted three times, catching all three passes for 23 yards. Moore playing with the backups might not be a great sign for his fantasy value right now, but he was productive when he was on the field, which should be viewed as a good thing. We'll want to monitor Moore's usage as the preseason progresses, but Saturday was a good first step for the rookie. He remains an interesting fantasy sleeper pick.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes played just one series in Saturday's preseason loss to the Bears, but he made the most of that series. Mahomes looked to be in regular season form already, going 6-for-7 for 60 yards and throwing a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Blake Bell. There are some questions about Mahomes' fantasy value this year with Tyreek Hill gone, but Saturday was a reminder that Mahomes is an elite passer who should be able to succeed with anyone at the skill positions. Consider him a top three fantasy quarterback this season.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis made his professional debut during Thursday's game vs. the Ravens and he caught the eye of more than just those on his sideline -- Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson dished out praise as well. "He's going to be good," Jackson said during media availability Saturday. Tennessee selected Willis -- who was discussed as a potential first-round pick -- in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He completed six of his 11 pro passes, compiling 107 yards through the air. Ryan Tannehill remains the team's primary signal caller entering the season, although the backup competition comes down to Willis vs. Logan Woodside, who has backed up Tannehill the past two seasons. Willis may not yet be a fantasy factor in '22, but his dual-threat abilities pave the way for him to soon garner starting reps.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett is on track to be under center come Week 1 of the regular season and that transition will officially take place during the practices of the upcoming week. Head coach Kevin Stefanski announced Saturday that Brissett would supplant the suspended Deshaun Watson as the first-team signal caller, with under a month to go until the Browns meet the Panthers. The 29-year-old Brissett has started 37 games over six NFL seasons, doing so for three different teams. While his production has never leaped off the page from a fantasy perspective, his being under center is likely indicative of the heavy reliance that Cleveland will have on its star-studded rushing game. For the time being, Brissett is set for a six-game stint as the team's starting quarterback.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor is not on track to suit up for the team's preseason-opening contest vs. Buffalo on Saturday. Taylor, arguably the league's premier fantasy asset, has emerged as a star rusher, while head coach Frank Reich has attempted to keep his back in prime condition for the grind of a full season. There is little incentive for the Colts to utilize Taylor during the preseason, especially after he led the league in carries (332), rushing yards (1,811), rushing touchdowns (18) and yards from scrimmage (2,171) last year. Without him in the mix, those monitoring Indy's preseason reps can look to Nyheim Hines, Phillip Lindsay and Ty'Son Williams to see the vast majority of backfield carries. Taylor's next opportunity to suit up comes against Detroit next Saturday.
Cleveland Browns center Nick Harris (knee) is suspected to have endured a season-ending knee injury during Friday's preseason game against Jacksonville, per Adam Schefter of ESPN. Harris, who was carted off the field Friday night, was set to be the team's starting center, with his injury paving the way for Ethan Pocic to take over. A fifth-round selection by Cleveland in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Washington, knee and hamstring injuries had previously saddled Harris in his first two pro seasons. The 23-year-old started one game in both '20 and '21, appearing in 23 contests during that span. How much of the Browns' offense shakes out remains to be seen in the wake of Deshaun Watson's current six-game suspension, but Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt should remain focal points even with the o-line taking a sizable blow.
Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Wyatt Hubert announced his retirement from the NFL on Saturday, citing his "physical health" as the primary reason for him stepping away. Hubert was selected in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft and sustained a torn pectoral muscle during the offseason, which prevented him from appearing in any game action during his rookie year. Hubert, a Kansas native, played collegiately for Kansas State, where he was a two-time First-team All-Big 12 selection. The Bengals defense remains a middle-of-the-pack unit for the upcoming '22 season.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has previously stated that he would like to suit up for preseason games, but during media availability Saturday, he confirmed that he's not sure if the team will have him under center before Week 1 of the regular season. Jackson saw his 2021 year come to an end due to an ankle injury, but the former MVP is preparing for another potentially electric season, despite some new faces around him on offense. Beyond Jackson on the depth chart is Tyler Huntley, who went 16-for-18 through the air in the team's preseason-opening victory. Keeping Jackson on the sidelines is largely a precaution to prevent against injury, but the signal caller has also been engaged in contract negotiations with the franchise, which have not yet resulted in a long-term agreement.