With most starters across the NFL expected to sit out the final week of preseason, this past weekend was the final chance to glean anything of significance before the games start to count.
While several head coaches opted to play their first team for most – if not the entire – first half, others chose to play it safe and not play their starters at all.
Here’s a look at takeaways from this week’s slate of action.
COLTS IN LUCK
The quarterback, who was making only his third appearance since January 2017 due to an injury to his throwing shoulder, looked like himself against the San Francisco 49ers as he completed 8-of-10 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.
The numbers don’t jump off the page, but Luck’s performance was his best of the preseason, in which he’s completed 20-of-32 throws for 204 yards, a touchdown and an interception for a passer rating of 83.1.
He also added 27 yards on four rushes, showing his willingness to extend plays out of the pocket and take a hit.
Not only has Luck come out of the preseason unscathed – it’s unlikely he plays in the fourth preseason contest – he’s also established some rhythm to make his transition into the regular season a smoother one.
Issues with the running game and offensive line mean the Colts still have plenty to worry about, but it seems the health of the franchise’s most important player is the least of their concerns right now.
CHIEFS D BEARS THE BRUNT
The Kansas City Chiefs’ starting defence continued a worrying trend in the loss to the Chicago Bears as they allowed a touchdown drive to a back-up quarterback for the third straight game.
Chase Daniel, who got the nod in place of regular starter Mitchell Trubisky, carved up Kansas City with four scoring drives on Chicago’s first five possessions, including trips to the end zone on the first three.
The Chiefs’ secondary looked like Swiss cheese as cornerbacks David Amerson and Orlando Scandrick were burned by a journeyman quarterback with a career passer rating of 81.1. Daniel finished 15-of-18 for 198 yards and two scores before exiting at halftime.
Kansas City’s offence has a chance to be one of the most explosive in the league, but it’s looking more and more like that will be a necessity rather than a luxury, which puts the pressure on first-time starter Patrick Mahomes to carry the load.
Even though Mahomes has been as good as advertised in the preseason, that’s asking a lot out of the young gunslinger.
PURPLE QB EATERS
One defence that has looked more than fine in the preseason is Minnesota’s.
Against quarterbacks Case Keenum, Blake Bortles and Russell Wilson through three weeks, the Vikings’ unit has allowed completions on just 24-of-45 passes for 282 yards, no touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 63.4.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise for a defence that allowed the fewest yards and points last season, but it serves as a reminder of why Minnesota are considered legit Super Bowl contenders this year.
With the Vikings’ defence in mid-season form, it should afford Kirk Cousins room for error to get comfortable in the offence and develop a rapport with his receivers.
SCRAP HEAP TO STARTERS?
Just two weeks ago, Adrian Peterson and Alfred Morris were both on the scrap heap as free agents. Now, they seem on their way to being starting running backs for Washington and San Francisco, respectively.
Peterson was signed by Washington to improve their depth in the backfield after the team lost Derrius Guice to a season-ending ACL tear. In his first chance to show he still has it, Peterson rushed for 56 yards on 11 carries this past weekend and looks in line to get regular first and second-down work.
Morris, meanwhile, had a strong effort against Indianapolis, amassing 84 yards on 17 carries. With Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida dealing with mild injuries, Morris has an opportunity to win a job and pay instant dividends in his reunion with Kyle Shanahan.
Peterson and Morris may not be major factors come October or November, but for now, it appears the veterans are once again in the mix.
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