NFL Preseason Games 2012: Studs and Duds from Thursday's Action

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2012

NFL Preseason Games 2012: Studs and Duds from Thursday's Action

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    Another night of preseason football means another group of standout performances and regrettable catastrophes.

    Twenty-six NFL teams took the field Thursday night for preseason tuneups. Teams are still gauging players to see who should make those final few roster spots and who should be banished to the practice squad.

    Let's not waste anymore time. Here are the five studs and five duds from Thursday night's preseason slate.

Stud: Jarius Wright, WR, Minnesota Vikings

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    Jarius Wright showed exactly what made him a big-play threat for Arkansas last season with his performance on Thursday night.

    Wright had been nonexistent in Minnesota's preseason up until this point, but he broke out for a six-catch, 122-yard performance against Houston. He also caught a touchdown.

    Averaging 20 yards per catch is nothing to snub your nose at, and Wright showed everyone how that's done on Thursday.

    He's still buried in the Vikings' depth chart, but he holds value because of his elusiveness.

Dud: Brady Quinn, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Brady Quinn did nothing to establish himself as Matt Cassel's backup on Thursday night.

    He went 6-of-12 passing for 83 yards and an interception. The Packers' reserve defense stifled the Kansas City offense to the tune of three total points.

    Quinn has to worry about Ricky Stanzi behind him on the depth chart. He didn't do himself any favors Thursday, and he hasn't had one standout performance in preseason play so far.

Stud: Jordan Todman, RB, Minnesota Vikings

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    No, you aren't seeing things. There are two Minnesota Vikings in the first three slides, and neither one is a "dud."

    Todman toted the rock extremely well for Minnesota against the Texans on Thursday. He ripped off 114 yards and a touchdown on just 10 carries.

    That equals 11.4 yards per carry. With Adrian Peterson's uncertain health, depth in the backfield could be an issue for the Vikings. Nothing against Toby Gerhart, but he's not a home-run threat.

    On Thursday, Todman showed that he's worth another look.

Dud: Kellen Clemens, QB, St. Louis Rams

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    As good as Sam Bradford was on Thursday for St. Louis, Clemens was just as bad. He didn't have a large sample size, but he didn't take advantage of the time he did have on the field.

    Clemens went 2-of-8 for 10 yards and an interception. His 0.0 quarterback rating is the only thing that could possibly make Matt Leinart feel good tonight.

    He's still going to be St. Louis' No. 2 option under center, but his performance on Thursday didn't inspire any confidence.

    The Rams won, 31-17, but Clemens definitely did not.

Stud: Justin Forsett, RB, Houston Texans

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    Justin Forsett showed the Houston coaching staff that Ben Tate and Arian Foster aren't the only running backs worth watching on Thursday.

    He took the ball 13 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns, including a 54-yard run. He averaged 8.8 yards per carry and showcased his quickness with each touch.

    Forsett is battling with Jonathan Grimes for the No. 3 spot behind Tate and Foster on the Houston depth chart, but this performance could make the difference.

    The only thing that shined a light to his performance in this game was Trindon Holliday's dynamic return skills.

Dud: Charlie Whitehurst, QB, San Diego Chargers

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    This slide really could just say "San Diego Chargers," but I'll cut the rest of the team some slack.

    Whitehurst didn't turn the ball over, but he was just 5-of-15 passing for 63 yards and a 47.4 passer rating. Jarrett Lee didn't do his job behind center either, but Whitehurst faces bigger expectations.

    The 49ers defense ate San Diego's offense alive on Thursday. The game was never close, and this was one the Chargers would rather forget.

    Whitehurst could have been worse, but he had a poor performance compared to other quarterbacks around the league.

Stud: Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams

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    Sam Bradford stared down Baltimore's defense on Thursday and delivered a nearly-flawless performance.

    He went 11-of-16 for 175 yards and three touchdowns. His passer rating of 144.5 jumps off the page and smacks you in the face.

    Bradford spread the ball around and stayed calm behind the Rams' paltry offensive line. He is very tough to stop when throwing short-to-medium routes, and the Rams put him in a position to succeed against Baltimore.

    There's no doubt about who is the starter in St. Louis, and performances like this show you exactly why.

Dud: Scott Tolzien, QB, San Francisco 49ers

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    Scott Tolzien gets this slide partially because he played poorly, and partially because the rest of his team played so well.

    Without Tolzien, the 49ers played a flawless football game. Colin Kaepernick and Josh Johnson both had quarterback ratings over 130, but Tolzien couldn't hack it.

    He came in, threw eight passes and completed three of them for 42 yards. He also threw an interception, which is the main reason his rating wound up at 15.6 for the night.

    Tolzien's game sticks out like a sore thumb among San Francisco's scary dominance on Thursday. He was a dud among studs.

Stud: Graham Harrell, QB, Green Bay Packers

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    Graham Harrell will hold a clipboard as long as Aaron Rodgers is wearing a Packers uniform, but that doesn't take away from his performance Thursday night.

    Harrell threw for two touchdowns against the Chiefs, and he was deadly efficient while doing so. He finished the night 13-of-15 for 223 yards and the two scores.

    Green Bay can rest easier knowing that Harrell is at least somewhat capable of running the offense. Matt Flynn is no longer there as insurance, and a competent backup signal-caller is necessary in the NFL.

Dud: Matt Leinart, QB, Oakland Raiders

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    Matt Leinart started for the Raiders Thursday night against the Seahawks, and it didn't go well.

    Leinart finished the night with 14 yards and an interception on 3-of-11 passing, and here's the kicker: His passer rating was 1.7.

    We've come to expect these types of performances from the former Heisman Trophy winner. He's fighting with Terrelle Pryor to be Carson Palmer's backup, but this performance may push him back a few notches.

    I have to say it one more time: His quarterback rating was 1.7.