NFL preseason Week 2 takeaways

Welcome to the NFL, rookie.

Kyler Murray learned how the other half lives Thursday against the Raiders, who blitzed the No. 1 overall pick and made him look uncomfortable. But it wasn’t all bad for the youngsters as Week 2 of the preseason started, as Dwayne Haskins showed off his arm with a big touchdown pass against the Bengals.

We have all that and more in the biggest takeaways and fantasy football nuggets of the preseason’s second week from NFL Nation:

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Carson Wentz should not touch the field this preseason. The QB injuries are piling up for Philadelphia. Cody Kessler was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a concussion, one week after backup Nate Sudfeld went down with a broken wrist. Coach Doug Pederson has been ratcheting up the intensity at practice to give the first team quality work in a controlled environment. He should continue on that path and keep Wentz out of harm’s way until the regular-season opener against Washington. The Eagles will probably have to add another arm this week with Kessler in concussion protocol. — Tim McManus

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QB Gardner Minshew needed a bounce-back performance after really struggling in the preseason opener and delivered: 19-for-29 for 202 yards in three quarters despite being under pressure from the edge pretty much the entire night. Minshew did lose a fumble after getting hit (RT Leonard Wester got beat badly) and also had a TD pass called back because of a block-in-the-back penalty by TE Ben Koyack. Minshew also put together a solid two-minute drive at the end of the first half that resulted in a field goal, giving the Jaguars their first points of the preseason. Minshew was clearly much more comfortable than he was last week. He was decisive and got the ball out quickly, which are encouraging signs for the Jaguars — who again sat the majority of their starters — because they’re counting on him to be the backup to Nick Foles. His performance Thursday night pretty much cemented that. — Mike DiRocco


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Playing behind a makeshift offensive line, QB Sam Darnold opened with a TD drive for the second straight week. The tempo was fast and Darnold was in command. It’s early, but he seems to have a firm grasp of the new offense. Big concern: RT Brandon Shell injured his knee in warmups, becoming the third offensive lineman to go down with an injury. Chemistry will be an issue in Week 1.— Rich Cimini

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There has to be concern about the offensive line during Matt Ryan‘s first appearance this preseason. Ryan was sacked three times and threw under duress too much while completing 10 of 14 passes for 118 yards. Ryan absorbed some good hits, something you never want to see in the preseason. Right tackle Ty Sambrailo didn’t look like a starter, and backup center Wes Schweitzer had some issues, among others. The Falcons are playing without two injured players who were thought to be on track to start: left guard James Carpenter (quad) and rookie right tackle Kaleb McGary (heart procedure). Jamon Brown could start at left guard and McGary, if healthy, should surpass the struggling Sambrailo at some point. — Vaughn McClure


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Rookie Ryan Finley made a strong case to be Cincinnati’s No. 2 quarterback this season. The fourth-round pick out of NC State followed up his preseason debut with another strong performance. Excluding a spike at the end of the first half, Finley was 20-of-25 passing for 150 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie steadied the Bengals after a start riddled with miscues. He led Cincinnati’s second unit on a 12-play, 93-yard drive that took 7:36 off the clock in the first half. From there, the entire team found its rhythm, as the visitors scored 23 of the final 30 points. Halfway through the preseason, the rookie is completing 75 percent of his passes for 259 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.— Ben Baby

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The Redskins hoped the preseason would identify their No. 1 quarterback, but after two preseason games that hasn’t happened. Colt McCoy can’t yet play because of issues with his leg and Case Keenum has been ordinary in two starts. He’s still adapting to the offense and getting in sync with his receivers. But being in a competition makes it tougher to build that chemistry. And rookie Dwayne Haskins shows more big-play potential — as evidenced by his 55-yard touchdown pass to Robert Davis. He’s not afraid to challenge down the field, but he also hasn’t shown enough to seriously challenge more experienced players. But with what those players have shown, it’s hard to believe Haskins won’t be used at some point this season.— John Keim


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It might be too soon to say the Packers have a serious problem with their run game — after all, neither Aaron Jones nor Jamaal Williams (both have hamstring issues) have played a snap in the preseason — but the installation of new coach Matt LaFleur’s outside-zone oriented scheme has been a rough go. The Packers totaled just 7 yards rushing on seven attempts in the first half a week after they had only 38 yards on 13 carries in the first half against the Texans. That’s 45 yards on 20 carries when the opponents were playing starters or key backups. Any hope that sixth-round rookie Dexter Williams could serve as a change-of-pace back looks bleak given his inability to hang onto the ball (he dropped a pass and couldn’t secure a handoff in which a fumble was charged to the quarterback). Tra Carson has been the starter in the absence of Jones and Jamaal Williams, but he’s averaging just 1.7 yards per carry. As much as LaFleur’s offense centers around the run game and what it can do for play-action, he needs to know if the lack of production is because he doesn’t have his top backs or because the scheme hasn’t taken hold. — Rob Demovsky

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Lamar Jackson continues to improve as a passer, but — as the Ravens’ starting quarterback showed and said Thursday night — he’s still at his most dangerous when running with the ball. On third-and-10, Jackson saw his receivers covered and took off, faking out Tramon Williams in the open field before leaping over Jaire Alexander to reach the end zone. The spectacular 18-yard touchdown run was nullified by Willie Snead‘s illegal block, but that doesn’t erase another highlight-reel moment that will keep defensive coordinators up at night. “The four-man rush gave me a lane,” Jackson said, “and I just did what I do best.” Jackson finished 6-of-10 passing for 58 yards, leading the Ravens to field goals on both of his drives. — Jamison Hensley


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The Raiders defense, with a cast of new characters headlined by middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict, looks much improved. At least it did in this second exhibition for both teams, with Oakland harassing No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray into a 3-for-8 passing night for 12 yards and defensive back Lamarcus Joyner sacking the nimble Murray for a safety. In four series, the Raiders starting defense only let Murray run once, for 4 yards. In fact, Joyner’s safety came on the third straight blitz dialed up by defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. At one point, the Raiders had outgained the Cardinals 231-12 in total yards. Also, rookie Josh Jacobs looks primed to be the Raiders’ feature back, starting and carrying the ball four times for 21 yards on their opening touchdown drive with Derek Carr under center, as the Raiders’ starting offense played just one series. — Paul Gutierrez

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Thursday night was one to forget for Kyler Murray. The rookie quarterback went 3-for-8 for 12 yards with a 4-yard run and looked out of sync in the four possessions he played, which went into the second quarter. He was flagged twice for false starts because of his clap snap, once for delay of game and went down in the end zone to avoid a sack for a safety. While, yes, it’s still the preseason and the Cardinals are running a vanilla offensive scheme, there were still some issues that Murray and the Cardinals need to clean up. — Josh Weinfuss

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