2021 NFL preseason, Week 3: What we learned from Saturday's games

NFL.com breaks down what you need to know from Week 3 of the 2021 NFL preseason. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:

Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
2021 · 3-0-0
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers
2021 · 0-3-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Josh Allen primed for MVP-caliber season. Allen shook off any lingering rust speckles in his first preseason action. The QB completed his first nine attempts, getting the ball out quickly. It looked like a basketball player warming up in a layup line, the way Allen dinked and dunked his way down the field. He easily found wide-open receivers, never tossing for more than 8.0 air yards in his first 10 attempts. After giving himself up for a sack, Allen unleashed his massive arm talent for a 31-yard laser over the middle to Gabriel Davis for a touchdown. The opening drive score displayed everything Allen brings to the table. He's willing to hit open targets short and let his WRs do work. But when necessary, the QB has the rifle to put it in tight windows. Allen showed the full bag of tricks in his three drives, making plays with his legs, a beautiful cross-body throw on the move. He hit targets on every level using the fastball and changeups. The Bills didn't even attempt a rushing play until the 17th snap of the game. The goal was clear: Get Allen loose and ready. The QB showed off and then some. It doesn't matter that it came against Packers backups. Some of the throws Allen made would have worked against All-Pros. Allen is primed for his name to be in the MVP race throughout the 2021 campaign.
  2. Malik Taylor a lock to make Packers roster? The 6-foot-2 Taylor impressed once again in preseason action, showing good hands and an ability to separate from defensive backs. Early, Taylor beat Pro Bowl corner Tre'Davious White on an out route for a 13-yard first-down. It was the type of route you want to see from a second-year receiver battling to make the squad. Later, Taylor showed good hands on a free play down the sideline, snagging the Jordan Love pass in traffic for 27 yards. Taylor caught five of his six targets (the one miss was a Love prayer in the end zone that was intercepted) for 69 yards. Taylor has pushed for a roster spot with a good preseason. If the Packers can't squeeze the Ferris St. product on the roster (they should), the 25-year-old has shown enough promise that he'll find a job somewhere in 2021.

NFL Research: Josh Allen threw for 194 pass yards, two pass TDs and a 122.9 passer rating against Green Bay, all preseason single-game career highs for the fourth-year Bills QB.

Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens
2021 · 3-0-0
Washington Football Team
Washington Football Team
2021 · 1-2-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Lamar Jackson shakes off rust in brief outing. Baltimore set the NFL record with their 20th straight preseason win, but it might have come at a massive cost after RB J.K. Dobbins went down with a knee injury on the first series. The Ravens played their starters on the opening drive, including Jackson. Out of the gate, No. 8 looked good, zipping a pass to Mark Andrews, then laying a perfect ball deep to Andrews for 23 yards. Jackson was sacked twice before swiftly exiting after Dobbins' injury on the first drive. The former MVP quarterback, however, got to shake off any rust, and the connection with his favorite tight end looked in midseason form. Backup Tyler Huntley balled out the rest of the way. Huntley showed that if Jackson goes down, he could be a fun fill-in flashing with both his arm and legs. Everything for the undrafted QB worked out. Deep shot. Scrambles. Quick strikes. Outside the numbers. Over the middle. The 23-year-old was an explosion in a bottle. Elsewhere, left tackle Ronnie Stanley returned from his season-ending injury, playing 10 snaps. The Pro Bowler looked good on the move. His health is enormous for the Baltimore offense heading into the 2021 campaign.
  2. Will undrafted rookie RB Jaret Patterson win a roster spot? The Washington Football Team rested its starters and key backups for the preseason finale, setting up a chance for reserves to state their case for a roster spot and potential playing time. The battle for a backup backfield spot between veteran Peyton Barber and the undrafted rookie Patterson looked to be highlighted. Neither stood out behind a backup line facing Ravens starters in the first half. Barber averaged 3.0 yards per carry on four totes, with one 7-yarder generating most of his production. The vet went 0-2 receiving, including a drop, and missed a blitz pickup. This was the chance for Patterson to run away with the backup gig. Unfortunately, the rookie who shined earlier in the preseason had just two carries for -1 yard. Washington clearly wanted to see Patterson in the passing game after he didn't see much in college at Buffalo. He dropped his first two passes and couldn't corral a heater later. He finished catching 3 of 6 targets for 15 yards. On a night the entire Washington offense struggled, neither RB stood out. It will be interesting to see if Patterson's previous shining performances will be enough to earn him the gig and push Barber out.

NFL Research: The Ravens extended their preseason winning streak to 20 games in Week 3. It is the longest preseason winning streak for any NFL team since at least 1994 (as far back as we can track). Since 1994, the Ravens own the two longest preseason winning streaks in the NFL. The current winning streak started with their first preseason game of 2016.

Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
2021 · 2-1-0
Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans
2021 · 2-1-0

Chase Goodbread's takeaways:

  1. Worries up front. The Bears might've finished their third week of the preseason, but it was fairly obvious their starting offensive tackles just finished their first one. Germain Ifedi and Jason Peters both looked a step slow, and that's to be expected with Ifedi coming off a hip injury and Peters coming off a dormant offseason at age 39. The Titans' edge pressure collapsed on rookie QB Justin Fields on his first pass attempt, with Ola Adeniyi beating Ifedi for a sack. On Fields' last throw, right before the half, edge pressure from both sides nearly got to him again, but he slipped away for a TD pass to TE Jesper Horsted.
  2. Sargent's statement. Whether he makes the team or not, nobody can say Titans rookie undrafted free agent RB Mekhi Sargent didn't get his chance. Sargent closed the preseason with 49 carries, by far the most on the team, for 187 yards and showed once again against the Bears that he can consistently bounce free from initial contact and pick up tough yards. On the negative side, he was completely blown up in pass protection by Bears LB Christian Jones on a pass that Logan Woodside managed to complete to set up an early first-and-goal. We'll know by Tuesday if he's just been placeholding for a unit that's been set without him, or if all that action earned him a roster spot.

NFL Research: Justin Fields wrapped up his first NFL preseason Saturday night. The Bears rookie played 17 drives this summer, completed 30 of 49 passes for 276 yards and two scores and rushed for 92 yards and a TD. Chicago's Week 1 starter, Andy Dalton, who didn't play Saturday, played nine drives, completing 13 of 21 passes for 164 yards, one TD and one INT.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2021 · 1-2-0
Houston Texans
Houston Texans
2021 · 2-1-0

Adam Maya's takeaways:

  1. A runner's chance. It was only one drive, and it didn't produce any points. But the Texans proved something to themselves during an 18-play, 72-yard possession. A week after going 0 for 10 on third downs, they converted a pair as well as a fourth down while driving inside the Buccaneers' 10-yard line against the reigning champion's first-stringers. Most of the damage, and this might be a sign of things to come, was done on the ground. Running backs David Johnson, Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay were all starters just last year and appear to be the strength of Houston's maligned roster. Perhaps they'll allow for the Texans to control the clock and keep some games close.
  2. The rich are richer. The Buccaneers boast arguably the best linebacker duo in the NFL between Lavonte David and Devin White. Rookie Joe Tryon-Shoyinka looks determined to make that true among trios as well. Since he arrived at training camp, the 2021 first-rounder has demonstrated a motor that surely endears him to his positional peers. His final rehearsal before his regular-season debut was no different, with Tryon-Shoyinka tallying a strip-sack, a tackle for loss, two QB hits and five tackles. David matched that effort by recording eight tackles in the opening quarter. White was able to play a complimentary role Saturday, which says it all about this group.

NFL Research: Tom Brady was 11 of 14 (78.6%) for 154 passing yards, 1 pass TD & 136.3 passer rating, which is his highest in a preseason game since at least 2016.

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos
2021 · 3-0-0
Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams
2021 · 0-3-0

Chase Goodbread's takeaways:

  1. Sutton's back. The Denver offense got a welcome return from WR Courtland Sutton, who looked sharp in a few early series for his first action since suffering a torn ACL in Denver's 2020 season opener. Sutton played 18 snaps, drew three targets and caught two of them. In an encouraging sign for the Broncos, he ran a deep out route for a 19-yard pickup to convert a third down, and cut off the left knee he injured for easy separation. Three plays later, he scored on an 8-yard TD catch from QB Teddy Bridgewater. If the Sutton who dialed up 1,112 receiving yards in 2019 is back, it's a huge boost for Denver.
  2. Holding their own. The Rams' coaching staff has to feel good about its depth coming out of this one. The Broncos played starters for the majority of the first half, yet with nary a Rams starter on the field, Sean McVay's team played Denver fairly even on the scoreboard (10-9) and fairly even in total yards (123-107) entering the break. QB Bryce Perkins continued to make a solid case for himself, an outmanned defense held up very well, and even P Corey Bojorquez chipped in with a 67-yard blast and a 48-yarder downed on the 1-yard line. He later launched one 70 yards in the second half that also was downed on the 1.

NFL Research: Teddy Bridgewater has four straight preseason games with at least one pass TD & no INTs dating back to Week 4 (preseason finale) of 2019. It's his longest streak of such games since at least 2016.

Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks
2021 · 1-2-0
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers
2021 · 1-2-0

Adam Maya's takeaways:

  1. Making the cut? Nothing is promised for Alex Collins, who bounced between the practice squad and the active roster upon returning to the Seahawks last fall. On Saturday versus the Chargers, he played like he could be RB2 in the Seahawks' rotation behind Chris Carson. The veteran powered his way to 89 yards from scrimmage and his explosion was in stark contrast to Rashaad Penny, who's still working his way back from a devastating knee injury. While the Seattle brass figures to be patient with the former first-rounder, they might be choosing between Collins and Travis Homer for a spot on the 53. The latter contributes more on special teams, but has missed most of the preseason with a calf injury. Collins's legs are clearly fresh after totaling just 18 carries over the past two seasons.
  2. And the kicker is … The Chargers were believed to be undecided on their starting placekicker. Saturday's outcome didn't make their evaluation any easier. The shutout loss provided just two kicking opportunities. Both went to Tristan Vizcaino, whose 47-yard attempt sailed wide right and lone kickoff netted a touchback. Judging from local reports, it wasn't clear who had the lead heading into the preseason finale. Mike Badgley has steadily regressed over his three seasons, making just 24 of 33 FGs last year. Vizcaino has all of two career attempts (both good). He also made his two previous attempts in this preseason. Badgley got just one try in August -- a 50-yarder -- and connected. A final decision might come down to practice.

NFL Research: Alex Collins scored his first preseason rushing TD since Week 1 of the 2017 preseason, which also happened to be against the Chargers.

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