Analyzing the 5 Biggest Developments from Week 1 of Preseason Action
Well, the first week of the 2012 NFL Preseason has come and gone, and the first full week of preseason games brought with it plenty of action, a few major injuries and more than a couple surprises along the way.
Whether it was the NFL debuts of the 2012 NFL draft's top two picks, or the injury that decimated the defense of one of the league's top contenders, it was an exciting first week of football in 2012, and here's a look back at some of the biggest developments.
Luck, Griffin, Tannehill All Shine in Their NFL Debuts
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Three quarterbacks were selected in the top 10 picks of the 2012 NFL draft.
One preseason game is an awfully small sample size, but if their first games under center were any indication, the teams that made the lofty investment in this trio of young signal-callers are going to be very glad they did.
Second overall pick Robert Griffin got things started on Thursday when he took the field as the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins.
Griffin didn't play very long but did plenty with the time he had, connecting on four of six passes for 70 yards, including a 20-yard scoring strike to Pierre Garcon.
Next up was Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins, and although Tannehill did most of his damage against second stringers there's no denying he looked good doing it.
Tannehill was easily the most effective quarterback on the field for the Dolphins in their 20-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, completing 14-of-21 passes for 167 yards and a score.
However, their debuts paled by comparison to the show put on by first overall pick Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts.
After completing his first NFL pass for a 63-yard touchdown, Luck proceeded to go 10-of-16 for 188 yards with a pair of touchdown passes against the St. Louis Rams in a performance that drew rave reviews, even from the opposing coach according to Yahoo! Sports.
''He's going to be a really good player,'' new St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said. ''We knew that before playing him today. He's got that sense and he's smart. We've got unblocked rushers twice and he got out of there to avoid the sacks by spinning out of there.''
Big Injuries on Defense
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However, all the news wasn't good for the Colts.
Some of the thunder was stolen from Luck's sterling first showing by news from Indianapolis that inside linebacker Pat Angerer, who paced the Colts with 148 total tackles last year, will miss at least six weeks after fracturing his foot in the first quarter of their game with the Rams.
The 25-year-old Angerer will undergo surgery to repair the injury, and his absence will be sorely felt by a Colts team that struggled mightily against the run last year, ranking 29th in the NFL.
However, as badly as the Angerer injury hurts the Colts, it's nothing compared to the blow dealt to the Green Bay Packers, who lost starting inside linebacker Desmond Bishop to a hamstring injury that likely ended the sixth-year veteran's 2012 campaign before it began.
If there's any sort of a silver lining for the Packers, it's that they have a capable replacement on the roster for Bishop in second-year pro D.J. Smith, who had 27 tackles and an interception in three starts for Green Bay in 2011.
Ryan Mathews Goes Down
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Injuries to prominent players weren't limited to the defensive side of the ball in the preseason's first week.
However, questions about Mathews' durability after he missed time due to injury in each of his first two NFL seasons led some to question the wisdom of that decision.
Those doubters were no doubt (sorry, couldn't help myself) emboldened when Mathews made it all of one carry into the preseason before fracturing his clavicle.
According to the Associated Press via The Boston Herald, Mathews still hopes to play in the Chargers' season opener on September 10 after undergoing surgery, but his injury simply raises one more question for a San Diego team already facing plenty after a disappointing 2011 season.
Big-Name Backs Make Their Return
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All the news wasn't bad where big-name ball-carriers are concerned.
After missing nearly all of the 2011 season with a torn ACL, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who gained over 1,900 total yards in 2010, made his return to the field in Kansas City's preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals.
Charles touched the ball four times for 23 yards and displayed his patented burst, which is certainly welcome news for a Chiefs team looking to run the ball a lot this year.
The team activated Peterson off the Physically Unable to Perform List and he participated in Vikings practice on Sunday.
The National Football Post reports that head coach Leslie Frazier will proceed cautiously with Peterson, but it had to be a welcome sight for his teammates and fans to see the Pro Bowl running back back on the Minnesota practice field.
Replacement Officials Need Replacing
A storyline that's gaining steam with each blown call and sloppy game is the ongoing labor impasse between the NFL and its officials, which has led the league to use replacement officials to this point in the preseason.
Among the sterling examples of officiating prowess that are now calling games in the National Football League is Craig Ochoa, who served as the referee in the Hall of Fame Game and whose resume has been, shall we say, "embellished" according to Mike Periera of FOX Sports via Pro Football Talk.
“They’ve tried to say that Craig Ochoa . . . was a BCS official, that he worked in the Big Ten. He didn’t work in the Big Ten. He’s not been a major college official. I don’t think the NFL is going to say that he actually got released midway through the last Lingerie Football League season as a referee. I don’t think the league is going to put that out. The league wants as little out as possible. They don’t want people talking about it. They don’t want me talking about it.”
Periera isn't the only one taking exception with the replacement officials. Several players, including Victor Cruz of the New York Giants, have also expressed reservations about the quality of officiating to this point according to The New York Times.
One error Cruz pointed to was a holding penalty on Jayron Hosley during a punt return. Hosley was returning the punt for the Giants.
“That was probably the most mind-boggling one to me,” Cruz said Sunday as the Giants began their final week of camp. “I’m a little concerned because we want to make sure we’re getting the best referees we can. I actually overheard one of the refs saying he only refereed glorified high school games, which I don’t even know what that means.”
Oh yeah, if this continues into the regular season it should be awesome.