The Georgia Dome was flooded in mass once more, kicking off the start of a new football season for not just the Falcons but the NFL as well. Atlanta had a solid game all around, winning 23-17 against the Washington Redskins. Matt Schaub had an impressive game as backup, throwing for some of the most yards out of any QB in week one with 179 yards. Allen Robinson also put in the work, taking three catches for 118 yards. But the standout of the night was hands down J.D. McKissic, who returned a kick 101 yards with electrifying speed. He was no doubt the most memorable, especially with the first team showcasing a lot of rust. Although things looked shaky at first for the Falcons starters, many defensive players like De’vondre Campbell and Deion Jones came raging as if it were game one. Both rookies have been spotlighted since Atlanta grew the need for a linebacker and both stepped up to the plate. Such satisfaction comes at the perfect time too with Dwight Freeney being hurt, although reports from Dan Quinn say he’ll return next game against the Browns.
For the Panthers, it was less of a joy to behold and more of a worry about practice in the following days. Their 19-22 loss to the Ravens came at the cost of a touchdown, a mistake gravely made by leader Cam Newton. In the first quarter Luke Kuechly nabbed a pick six for himself – a play he’s now infamous for after accomplishing the feat so often last year – but learned in the end it would be overturned. The reason being a penalty had been drawn on Newton for running onto the field after the interception, drawing the yellow marker. Newton said he “got too excited” in his celebration, yet such mannerism is expected from a showtime character. Besides the mishap, Carolina had a decent day on offense. The run game struggled, only totaling 81 yards through four quarters. Receiver Ted Ginn Jr. had one of the longest rushes of the night at 15 yards, stealing the running backs’ shine. But perhaps the biggest play of the night came from Brandon Wegher’s one hander. I’ll let the video speak for itself.
WR Damiere Byrd is playing for a roster spot tonight!!!
— CAR Panthers News (@CarPanthersNews) August 12, 2016
Defensively, there was little pressure coming from the defensive line, however other departments had no problem. David Mayo had seven solo tackles and Colin Jones with six. Meanwhile A.J. Klein created the team’s only pick. Still, the offense failed to capitalize in the third and fourth string teams, indicating a lack of depth in a few areas. Overall the Panthers played well, but those behind the front lines will have to do better in the long run.
New Orleans Saints
For any team playing the Patriots, there’s never a dull moment. Now in this first preseason game, the whole world of footballing fanatics came to watch Jimmy Garappolo behind his master sensei Tom Brady. But a few men from the Big Easy stole the show one play at a time out in Foxborough. Brees put up two touchdowns on ten passes, showcasing a free flowing offense already clicking. On the defense Pierre Warren put a stop to Garappolo with a 33 yard pick, although the defensive line was nothing to boast about. James White and Dion Lewis both ground their way to a TD each, mainly thanks to drives created from all out passing. In the end the Saints lost 24-33, yet it wasn’t a game to worry about because after all, it’s preseason. But one major worry is coming from the first round pick Sheldon Rankins, who fractured his fibula, leaving him out for six weeks. With not a ton of talent at the line of scrimmage, New Orleans is out of luck. Moreover, the long grind to success seems to be reaching even the most tenured, that being Drew Brees. Reports say Brees had a very rough day Monday, throwing four picks, and he called it “one of the rougher days I’ve [ever had].”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last but not least are the Bucs, who are coming cold off of a lackluster 17-9 loss against Philadelphia. Jameis Winston got started quickly with an elegantly thrown pass to Russell Shepard for a touchdown. But unfortunately for the rookie second round kicker Roberto Aguayo, his first ever extra point attempt went outside the goalposts. So, talk about a warm welcome, especially in Eagles territory. Ironically, he was the only player to score for Tampa Bay since then, capping off a struggling team who looked out of shape and a little rusty. The little positives came from Luke Rhodes who piled on five tackles, and Akeem Spence who got in for a sack. Other than that, it was nasty for the team who had four fumbles and one interception. While dreading practice come Monday, the offense took the time to pick up the slack in entertaining fashion.
Bucs WR continues to impress a Training Camp pic.twitter.com/UPMIiWKlKo
— Kevin ODonnell Fox13 (@ODonnellFox13) August 15, 2016