NFL.com breaks down what you need to know from Week 2 of the 2022 NFL preseason. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:
Coral Smith's takeaways:
- Collins kick-starts offense. The Texans weren't producing any offense early in the game, but wide receiver Nico Collins' touchdown catch to end the first half woke them up, giving Houston the lead on what might have been the best play of the night. Reports from Houston's preseason practices have indicated that the second-year wide receiver could be primed for a breakout year, and late in the first half Collins backed up those claims with a touchdown grab that was worthy of a highlight reel. Quarterback Davis Mills lofted a pass to the side of the end zone, where Collins went up to grab it. Despite Rams cornerback Derion Kendrick tackling him in the air, getting a hand on the ball and bringing Collins to the ground, the receiver managed to hold on and keep his feet in. After a review, the touchdown call was confirmed. Collins finished with four receptions for 48 yards and the touchdown, perhaps offering a preview of what's to come this year for the young receiver.
- Rookie CB makes his mark. The Rams may have found another diamond in the rough with Cobie Durant, as the rookie cornerback had an impressive showing Friday. Durant broke up a long pass from Mills, almost intercepting the throw. Pleased with his young player's efforts, head coach Sean McVay could be seen pumping his fist in approval from the sidelines. Durant also collected two tackles (one for a loss), a quarterback hit and a sack in Friday's contest. Los Angeles is known for eschewing high draft picks in order to acquire players via trade, and as a result they've gotten very good at finding sleeper picks from Day 2 and 3 of the draft and turning them into everyday starters. If Durant can continue on this path, the fourth-round pick might turn out to be another Rams success story.
- No turnovers for Love. Jordan Love's preseason outing last week versus the 49ers was up and down, with the main takeaway being the three interceptions he threw. But Love looked significantly more comfortable this week, as he was making quality throws from the pocket despite consistent pressure from the Saints defense. Love's longest completion of the night was a 21-yard pass to Juwann Winfree in the second quarter which he dropped right into the receiver's arms, and out of reach of defenders. And that wasn't the only throw Love made where he managed to place it in exactly the right spot where only his target could get his hands on it. Love finished the game 12 for 24 for 113 yards and a touchdown, and while the overall numbers weren't astounding, the lack of turnovers is a great sign for the young QB as he gains experience.
- Olave makes an impression. Chris Olave, the 2022 No. 11 overall pick, had a highlight moment in Friday's contest, somersaulting into the end zone for the Saints' first touchdown of the night. The New Orleans offense had been quiet for most of the first half and had only three points with less than a minute left on the clock. But after the Saints got the ball back off of a Packers fumble with 40 seconds left in the half, the Saints offense put together a quick 37-yard drive capped by quarterback Ian Book's on-the-run pass to the corner of the end zone, where Olave flipped and held the ball out over the pylon to secure the 20-yard score. With the third-string QB on the field, offensive opportunities on Friday were limited, but the rookie wideout made himself seen with the grab. Now just think of what he might do with Jameis Winston passing.
- The maturation of Mac Jones and the Patriots offense. While their defense was dastardly (in a good way), the Patriots' looming concern is the offense. As conundrums continue relating to who's calling plays in the aftermath of Josh McDaniels leaving for Las Vegas, the primary concern is obviously how Mac Jones and his teammates learn and execute. The start of Friday's game was dreadful, but Jones and Co. showed in-game progress and any type of positive is important at this juncture. A sack, three incompletions in three attempts for Jones and three yards gained overall on back-to-back three-and-outs told the tale of the Patriots' first two drives. It was ugly. It got a lot prettier on the third drive. Most notably, Jones hooked up on a beautiful 45-yard play with wide receiver Nelson Agholor. It was part of a 10-play, 81-yard scoring drive culminated by a Ty Montgomery 2-yard touchdown. After his 0-3 start, Jones went 4 of 5 for 61 yards on the scoring drive -- his last of the game. It's apparent this isn't an overnight process for the Patriots' offense. On Friday, it was ugly early with a good showing to end it for the first-team offense.
- Growing pains for No. 6 pick. During joint practices ahead of the Panthers-Patriots tilt Friday, headlines were garnered by daily donnybrooks that dampened practices. Beyond those headlines were reports that Matt Judon, Deatrich Wise and the Pats' pass-rushing initiative were overwhelming the Panthers offensive line. That didn't change Friday. Put into the starting left tackle spot, No. 6 overall pick Ickey Ekwonu has one of the brighter spotlights an O-lineman can have shining on him. Ekwonu struggled -- though so did the rest of the line. The Patriots posted sacks on back-to-back plays on the Panthers' second drive. The first was had by Wise, who lined up against Ekwonu and stunted inside. The next came from Josh Uche, whose outside speed rush left Ekwonu behind him searching for answers. As a positive foreshadowing, Ekwonu looked impressive and intimidating pulling on a run play and gobbling up a cornerback. However, on a similar play, he was blasted backward by safety Kyle Dugger. Ekwonu is only 21 years old and he's most often going to be on an island at left tackle. There are no conclusions to be had for first-round rookies in the second game of the preseason. There will be growing pains for Ekwonu, and the hope is that Friday was an example of that rather than a foreshadowing of what lies ahead.
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