Sat Aug 24 11:28pm ET
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Pro Football Writer
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) breaks away from New Orleans Saints' Marcus Davenport (92) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)
New York Jets' Ty Montgomery (88) runs away from New Orleans Saints' Colton Jumper (51) for a touchdown during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)
New York Jets' Robby Anderson (11) stiff-arms New Orleans Saints' Marcus Williams (43) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) throws a pass during the first half of the team's preseason NFL football game against the New York Jets on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws a pass during the first half of the team's preseason NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell runs onto the field for the team's NFL preseason football game against the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New Orleans Saints' Michael Thomas (13) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of New York Jets' Tevaughn Campbell (35) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees throws a pass during the first half of the team's preseason NFL football game against the New York Jets on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Drew Brees threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas to cap his only drive in his preseason debut, and the New Orleans Saints defeated the New York Jets 28-13 on Saturday night.
Brees didn't take a snap in the Saints' first two exhibition games, but Sean Payton gave the 40-year-old quarterback a brief regular-season warmup in this one. And, Brees and the starting offense breezed down the field.
Alvin Kamara had a 25-yard catch on third down, and a 20-yard grab by Thomas two plays later got the Saints (2-1) down to the 23. On third-and-6, Brees found Thomas in the back-right corner of the end zone with a perfectly placed ball over cornerback Tevaughn Campbell's head for the touchdown.
Brees finished 4 of 6 for 68 yards and was done for the night, along with the rest of the offensive starters, and was replaced by Teddy Bridgewater.
Sam Darnold's night for the Jets (1-2) lasted quite a bit longer as the second-year quarterback played midway into the second quarter, despite three projected starting offensive lineman - center Ryan Kalil and guards Kelechi Osemele and Brian Winters - sitting out.
After a sluggish start - and Darnold taking a hard shot from Trey Hendrickson to end his fourth drive - the starting offense got things going against the Saints' backup defense.
On third-and-5 from the Jets 40, Darnold connected with Robby Anderson down the left sideline for a 41-yard gain. After two runs by Ty Montgomery and a defensive holding call on Terrell Williams Jr. put the ball at the Saints 2, Darnold threw a pretty swing pass to Montgomery for a touchdown that cut the Jets' deficit to 10-7 with 8:22 left in the first half.
That was it for Darnold, who was 8 of 13 for 97 yards and the score. He was replaced by Trevor Siemian, who appears to be a lock as Darnold's backup.
Saints rookie wide receiver Deonte Harris returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown with 7:27 left, giving New Orleans a 23-13 lead. Harris, out of Assumption College, avoided a diving tackle attempt by punter Matt Darr before sprinting into the end zone.
Kalil was expected to make his debut with the team, but the team decided to have him sit out while he continues to get into football shape and learn the playbook. Jonotthan Harrison started again in his place.
Kalil, who played 12 seasons with Carolina, came out of retirement earlier this month and signed a one-year, $8.4 million deal with the Jets.
''(Last) Sunday night was his first night in pads, so he's only had really three practices,'' general manager Joe Douglas said before the game. ''So, we felt the smart thing to do was to hold him out. We'll re-evaluate it next week. Again, we're 15 days away from the opener, so we feel good that's he's going to have plenty of time to be ready for Week 1.''
JUST FOR KICKS
Jets kicker Taylor Bertolet - whose roster spot is uncertain - bounced back after missing two extra points last week, making field goals of 48 and 56 yards and converting on his one extra-point try.
Bridgewater was 15 of 26 for 143 yards before giving way to Taysom Hill in the third quarter. The do-it-all Hill ran for what appeared to be a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown late in the third, but it was wiped out by a holding call on Patrick Omameh. The Saints had to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Wil Lutz that put New Orleans up 16-13 with 2:36 left in the quarter. ... Lutz was also good from 39, 40 and 34 yards, but was wide left on a 43-yard attempt.
Saints: LB Josh Martin left in the third quarter with an apparent right arm injury.
Jets: S Brandon Bryant suffered a head injury in the third quarter after being called for unnecessary roughness for leading with his helmet on a play.
Saints: home vs. Miami on Thursday night.
Jets: at Philadelphia on Thursday night.
Seattle Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright had to be visited by the trainers after Alvin Kamara's touchdown run on Sunday, but he told the media after the game that he was fine. Wright said he just got the wind knocked out of him, and he should be good to go. That's a breath of fresh air for Seattle, who were saddled with their first loss of the season. Though New Orleans tallied 33 points, nowhere near all the blame hangs on the defense since 14 of those points were scored on a scoop-and-score fumble and a punt return. The Seattle defense did struggle to contain Kamara, but that's hardly a rare problem. With the whole squad healthy, the Seahawks Defense should be pretty solid moving forward.
Seattle Seahawks tight end Will Dissly was on the right end of a reception once again as he was the chosen one for the team's final garbage-time touchdown of the game on Sunday. Dissly was targeted seven times, caught six passes, and tallied 62 yards in the game, exact copies of his season stats coming into the matchup. The rainy conditions seemed to make Dissly more appealing to quarterback Russell Wilson, and it looks like he trusts that Dissly is a solid release valve when he finds himself in trouble. Be wary of Seattle's knack for letting certain receivers go to rot quickly after they look great, but for now, Dissly could be a real part of the offense moving forward.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf continued his impressive run on Sunday as he snagged a 54-yard bomb just before halftime. Metcalf was a little quieter the rest of the day, partially due to rain and constant slipping on the field, but he's now caught a pass of 25+ yards in all three games of his young career. Metcalf was targeted six times in the game, and while he only caught two of the passes, he at least made those ones count. The coaching staff seems to love having Metcalf across from Tyler Lockett, so it looks like he's in for a pretty solid year as the team's No. 2 receiver.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver David Moore finally got into the action for the first time on Sunday, but he only caught one pass on the afternoon. As expected, Moore's catch was a nifty one that featured him coming back and around a defender to be able to reach the wet, slippery ball, but the lack of chances continues to limit his potential. Moore was initially pegged as the team's likely No. 2 receiver, but it looks like everyone's infatuated with D.K. Metcalf so far, so Moore's looking more like he'll be battling for table scraps. His incredible acrobatics will allow him to make highlight reels often, but it doesn't look like he'll be hitting box scores as regularly.
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson busted a big 23-yard bruiser of a run early in Sunday's game against the Saints, but after that, he was nearly silent. Carson finished with just 15 carries for 53 yards and one reception out of the backfield. Carson's lack of use was due to a combination of the score, where Seattle was getting pounded for the majority of the game, and a costly fumble that turned into a defensive touchdown in the first half. This is the third game in a row where Carson has coughed up the ball in a terrible way, and that's a bad sign for his long-term prospects in Seattle.
Given the chance to be the team's No. 2 for the week, Seattle Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise didn't make much noise. With running back Rashaad Penny (hamstring) out on Sunday, Prosise got his chance to remind everyone why Seattle has put up with his annual injuries. Instead, he tallied just five yards on four carries. He did catch five passes out of the backfield to rack up 38 yards, but most of that came on one 21-yarder. Penny's injury isn't considered serious, and he's currently expected to play in Week 4. For now, it looks like Prosise will continue to have to sit tight because he's not putting any pressure on anyone ahead of him in the depth chart.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett had the biggest receiving day of his NFL career on Sunday as he caught 11 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the team's loss to New Orleans. He also just missed a second touchdown pass on an errant throw that was a little out of his reach. Lockett came up huge for quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks throughout the game, snagging balls left and right to keep the team in it when they were down big. The game doubled up Lockett's catches and targets on the season, and he's now averaging more than 90 yards receiving per game. Lockett looks like he's well on his way to topping 1,000 yards this season, and he should have a handful of touchdowns in the bank as well.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson put up huge numbers in Sunday's loss against the Saints. Wilson completed 32 passes on 50 attempts for 406 yards and two passing touchdowns. He also carried the ball seven times and ran in a pair of touchdowns, including one where he straight muscled through a Saints defender. The explosion of passing attempts was due to the fact that Seattle trailed by a hefty margin for the majority of the game after a series of bad breaks early on. That said, this is the second straight game where Wilson has tallied up sizable QB numbers. Perhaps Seattle is willing to let him use some of his magic moving forward.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin had a step on two defenders with two minutes left and the team trailing by seven points, but he couldn't hold on to the throw that hit him in both hands. Quarterback Philip Rivers had laid it out in the perfect spot where only Benjamin could reach it, but it was gone in an instant as it started to slip out of his hands and a slap on the elbow from a Texans defender ensured it couldn't be snagged. Instead, Benjamin finished with just two catches for five yards, and the Chargers fell to 1-2 on the season.
Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Brandon Mebane got after quarterback Deshaun Watson on Sunday and was able to nail down his third career sack as a member of the Chargers organization. Mebane is in his fourth year with the team, and he's now garnered 18.5 sacks in his 13-year career. Unfortunately, the work of Mebane and the rest of the Chargers Defense wasn't up to the task as the team fell to the Texans. The Chargers defense has shown a real difficulty in making halftime adjustments so far, as they've been nailed for 45 points in the second halves of their three games this year while only giving up 21 points in the first halves. Conditioning is one of the things that can be drained by injuries, so perhaps this is related to the missing members.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams caught three passes for 45 yards on Sunday, including a critical one to give the team a chance to tie the game right at the end. Unfortunately, the team fell short. Williams has clearly shown he's got the talent to succeed in the NFL, but it's becoming clear that quarterback Philip Rivers' rapport with Keenan Allen is going to trump just about everything else. Williams is still a big body that can get open, but Rivers is clearly looking Allen's way on every route. At this point, it appears Williams is entirely dependent on catching an odd TD here and there.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen had the best game of his career on Sunday against the Texans as he amassed a whopping 183 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Allen was targeted 17 times and caught 13 of the passes, but it wasn't enough to lead the Chargers to victory. Allen's two touchdowns included a 12-yard score that featured a nifty juke to get around a defender, and he's now accumulated three touchdowns dramatically faster than in any other season. With the Dolphins on the horizon, Allen could be on his way to a career year.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson got a few more chances on Sunday in the passing game, but he did nothing with them. Jackson was thrown four passes this week while he hadn't been thrown more than a single one in either of the other two games this year, but he totaled a whopping four yards on those completions. He also only ran the ball five times, the fewest times in a game this year, but he still averaged more than 5.0 YPC. Jackson is clearly playing second fiddle, but the team's offensive gameplan in this game seemed lost anyway. Hopefully, they can right the ship, and he can get back to the change-of-pace role where he excels.
Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett had just two catches for 15 yards in Week 3. Those were the only two targets he saw filling in for Tyler Higbee (lung). Everett isn't worth consideration against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week in traditional leagues.
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald had four tackles (three solo) and his first sack of the season in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns. Donald started out slowly the first two weeks, but he delivered in this affair. He has another positive outlook against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4. He's worth starting in individual defensive player formats.
Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler was a bit of a non-factor in Sunday's game against the Texans. Though he made a couple nice pick-ups on key third downs, he also got stopped short on a couple important downs and only touched the ball 16 times all game. Just nine carries on the ground yielded 36 yards, and while he caught seven passes, they only amassed another 45 yards and no scores. It's unclear why the Chargers decided to move away from their most productive running back and instead force quarterback Philip Rivers to throw the ball downfield more, resulting in five sacks, but hopefully this was just a one-time blip in their gameplan.
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley rushed 14 times for 43 yards in a quiet Week 3 outing against the Cleveland Browns. He was targeted once through the air, but he had no completions. He'll have a tough matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week. The Bucs have been among the stingiest defenses against running backs the first three weeks. Gurley is still a low-end RB1, but his upside is waning at this point with his reduced usage.
Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown rushed just three times for seven yards in Week 3. It was a tough day overall for the running game as the team rushed 24 times to 38 pass attempts. Brown has done little in the last two games after a two-touchdown opener. He has a tough matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week, and at this point, he's just a handcuff to Todd Gurley.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Chad Beebe (ankle) was carted to the locker room in the third quarter of Sunday's 34-14 win over the Oakland Raiders. Beebe didn't have a target in the contest. Olabisi Johnson stepped in as the third receiver in his absence - we should get an update on the severity of Beebe's ankle injury on Monday.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed 31 passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday as the Chargers fell to the Houston Texans. LA continued to struggle in the second half of ballgames, and Rivers was sacked five times on the day. The 46 passing attempts were the most Rivers has had in a regular season game since Week 1 of 2018, and Rivers hasn't won a single game in the last five years when he's thrown the ball 45 or more times. Whether LA wins or loses, Rivers has the ability to put up gaudy numbers, so he'll be valuable no matter how the season goes for the underperforming Chargers.