Preseason Week 3 takeaways: Josh Allen's disastrous starting debut

Luck confident heading into the season (0:40)

Jeff Darlington details Andrew Luck's positive mindset heading into the regular season. (0:40)

It's the NFL's annual dress rehearsal, otherwise known as Week 3 of the preseason. For most of the league, this is our only extended look at first-team units for both offense and defense. Who's standing out? Who's struggling? Who's making the team? Here's the biggest takeaway for each team.


Sunday's games


Arizona Cardinals

There’s no question that David Johnson will be Arizona’s starting running back come Week 1, but rookie Chase Edmonds proved Sunday night against Dallas that he’s capable of being a viable backup. Edmonds ran for 55 yards on 11 carries, including a 28-yard run that put his quickness and speed on display. He also had two catches for 8 yards, showing versatility like Johnson, who didn’t play Sunday. Edmonds showed he was able to catch passes out of the backfield, so when Johnson needs a spell, the Cardinals won’t need to adjust their playbook for Edmonds. He was the brightest spot for the Cardinals’ offense in a game that didn’t show off much of what Arizona could do with the ball. Sam Bradford threw just four passes, including his first incompletions of the preseason, and rookie Josh Rosen didn’t play due to a finger injury, but the glimpse Edmonds gave of Arizona’s backfield depth could have larger implications when Johnson needs a break. -- Josh Weinfuss

Dallas Cowboys

Without Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and three starting offensive linemen, it is not surprising the Cowboys' offense struggled in the loss to Arizona. However, there has to be concern over what backup quarterback Cooper Rush has done in the past two preseason games. He was intercepted twice by the Cardinals, with one returned for a touchdown. In his past 12 drives, the offense has gained 153 yards and not scored a point. Prescott has proved to be durable in his first two seasons, but there has to be at least some concern about Rush not showing improvement over a rookie season for which he won the No. 2 job a summer ago. -- Todd Archer


Cincinnati Bengals

This could be the best defensive line the Bengals have had in years. The Bengals' first unit had its way with the Bills' offensive line, with a combined five sacks among Geno Atkins, Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson and Andrew Billings. New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin certainly has to be excited about all the weapons he can deploy on that unit. However, Cincinnati's run game is a concern, with a meager 10 yards between starters Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. -- Katherine Terrell

Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen's preseason starting debut Sunday was a disaster, although his offensive line should bear a large portion of the blame. Playing almost a full half with Buffalo's starters, Allen completed 6 of 12 passes for 34 yards and scored no points while being sacked five times. He was replaced by Nathan Peterman, who continued his sharp preseason by carving up the Bengals' second-team defense and presenting himself as the safer option for coach Sean McDermott to start in Week 1. -- Mike Rodak

Saturday's games

COLTS 23, 49ERS 17

Indianapolis Colts

It took all the way up to Andrew Luck's final series in the preseason for the first-team offense to score a touchdown. Luck, who missed last season with a right shoulder injury, threw a 15-yard score to tight end Eric Ebron early in the second quarter. The first-team offense scored 16 points, had six punts and an interception in 11 series with Luck in the preseason. Luck, who didn't have starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo (hamstring) in the three games, finished the preseason 20-of-32 for 204 yards and a touchdown pass. Colts coach Frank Reich said he doesn't plan to play any of the Colts' key players in their preseason finale at Cincinnati on Thursday. The next time Luck plays will be the Colts' Week 1 game against the same Bengals on Sept. 9. Colts defensive end John Simon is out with a neck injury. It was also a neck injury that caused Simon to go on the injured reserve list last season. Denzelle Good, who is in the mix for the starting right tackle position, left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. -- Mike Wells

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers' starters played the entire first half. The offense moved the ball well, but it struggled to finish drives, which is a concern only because it's an issue that plagued the Niners last season. Against the Colts, the Niners' starting offense was 0-for-3 in turning red zone drives into touchdowns, settling for two field goals and failing to convert on a fourth down. The 49ers miss tight end George Kittle down there, but they were just 11-of-24 in red zone touchdown conversions in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's five starts last season, which ranked 20th in the NFL in that span. Drops and penalties were an issue last year, and they were again Saturday. Until those things get cleaned up, finishing drives could continue to be a problem. In better news, cornerback Richard Sherman played the whole first half and came up with a pass breakup on the only pass thrown his direction. Running back Alfred Morris had 17 carries for 84 yards in his first snaps as a Niner. -- Nick Wagoner


Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson delivered his most impressive showing of the preseason, generating exciting plays with his legs as well as his arm. The rookie first-round pick registered 137 yards of total offense and two touchdowns on five drives in the second half in Miami. Looking much more calm and composed, Jackson ran for a 19-yard touchdown and then threw a 21-yard touchdown to DeVier Posey. The biggest difference in Jackson was how he took advantage of what the defense gave him instead of forcing the issue. He was 7-of-10 passing for 98 yards, which gave him a 134.6 passer rating (out of a perfect 158.3). Robert Griffin III was solid in making his second start of the preseason. The Ravens' decision on whether to keep Griffin will come down to the preseason finale, which is against the Washington Redskins, Griffin's old team. -- Jamison Hensley

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins' offense should center around Kenyan Drake. After an extremely slow start, the Dolphins' first-team offense finally showed signs of life with its first touchdown of the preseason. There's still a lot of dink-and-dunk in this offense, which forces the team to play extremely clean football in order to score touchdowns. Drake is the Dolphins' most exciting offensive player, and he could provide the big plays this team needs. He showed that Saturday with a 36-yard reception and a 30-yard rush. It looked a lot like what we saw in 2017 from Drake, who led the NFL in rushing over the past five games. If Drake can be that player, it will go a long way in helping Ryan Tannehill and this offense have success. -- Cameron Wolfe


Jacksonville Jaguars

QB Blake Bortles had another shaky outing with two interceptions, but he managed to lead the offense to 10 first-half points before teams began substituting. A bigger concern is the status of WR Marqise Lee, who suffered what appeared to be a severe left knee injury on a low tackle after making a catch. Lee is the Jaguars' most experienced receiver (171 catches) and led the team with 56 receptions last season, so they'll miss his production if he's out for a significant amount of time. He's also the best blocker among the receivers, and that will impact the run game some, too. This puts more pressure on veteran Donte Moncrief, who signed a one-year, $9.6 million guaranteed contract in the offseason, to step up and lead a young group of receivers that includes two second-year players and a rookie. Moncrief caught three passes for 62 yards in the first half. -- Michael DiRocco

Atlanta Falcons

If this was the dress rehearsal for the regular season, the Falcons have much fine-tuning to do on both sides of the ball. Matt Ryan and the starters succumbed to intense pressure from the Jaguars' defensive front and were plagued again by drops, factors that have to be resolved before playing the swarming Eagles defense in the season opener. Failing to score a touchdown, going 0-for-5 on third down and totaling less than 100 yards in the first half wasn't exactly ideal for what's supposed to be one of the league's most explosive offenses, even in the preseason. The defense, down three starters, got gashed, missed tackles and was pushed around way too much. -- Vaughn McClure


Pittsburgh Steelers

Now that's what the Steelers wanted out of their defense. With most of the starters on the field for the first time, Pittsburgh looked quick and decisive and didn't let the Titans cross midfield on their first seven drives. Stephon Tuitt was constantly in the backfield, recording one of the Steelers' six sacks. And top pick Terrell Edmunds showed his range and athleticism on an interception over the middle. The performance wasn't perfect, but it was much improved -- and much needed -- after giving up 51 points in Green Bay last week. -- Jeremy Fowler

Tennessee Titans

The Titans' offense stumbled, especially on third downs. Marcus Mariota was not able to connect with Corey Davis on two passes across the middle that should have resulted in first downs. Mariota was under duress frequently. He threw an interception on a third down when he was flushed out of the pocket and tried to throw on the run. On a good note, CB Kenneth Durden made a couple of solid open-field tackles against the Steelers' first-team offense and helped force a fumble. TE Anthony Firkser had a good day, posting five receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown. -- Turron Davenport


New Orleans Saints

The Saints got a very impressive bounce-back performance by QB Taysom Hill during the second half on Saturday night after his disastrous outing last week. He did most of his damage with his great running ability (six runs for 35 yards and a TD). But he was also impressive as a passer (7-of-8 for 66 yards and the Saints' only TD pass of the preseason to date). I still have veteran Tom Savage ahead in the battle to back up Drew Brees in Week 1 of the regular season. But Saturday was a reminder of why the Saints won't be quick to give up on Hill's potential. -- Mike Triplett

Los Angeles Chargers

With the Saints making quick work of the Chargers, coach Anthony Lynn does not have much to be pleased about. However, even with Melvin Gordon not in attendance while he handled a family matter, the Bolts ran the football effectively, finishing with 104 yards rushing on 25 carries for a 4.2 average. Starting in place of Gordon, second-year pro Austin Ekeler led the charge, finishing with 50 rushing yards on six carries, including a long of 21 yards. -- Eric Williams


Houston Texans

This Texans defense is going to be fun to watch if the group can stay healthy. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney each played in their first game of the preseason, and although it was against the Rams’ second-string offense, they impressed in their few series. The Texans’ first-team defense allowed zero points and had an interception of Rams backup quarterback Sean Mannion, who did not complete a pass on five attempts. -- Sarah Barshop

Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams’ offense will remain a mystery until Sept. 10, when they open against the Oakland Raiders. Coach Sean McVay opted to keep his offensive starters safe on the sideline for a third consecutive preseason game Saturday. Defensive starters played two series against the Texans before McVay saw what he needed to determine they’re ready for the season. The unit forced a three-and-out in its first series, and in the second series defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who said earlier this week he couldn’t wait to get to a quarterback, toppled Deshaun Watson as the Texans QB launched a deep pass that was intercepted by safety Lamarcus Joyner. The sample size was small, but it’s safe to say this defense can wreak havoc this season, especially if Aaron Donald returns from his holdout. -- Lindsey Thiry


Chicago Bears

This game will be remembered for Matt Nagy's decision to sit his starters, including second-year QB Mitchell Trubisky, after just a handful of series in the preseason. Whether that decision pays off in the future and sets a new trend for the rest of the league remains to be seen. In the short term, the Bears have to be encouraged by the fact that oft-injured wide receiver Kevin White caught the first touchdown pass of his professional career, a 29-yard reception from Chase Daniel. Rookie WR Javon Wims had a big day with four catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. -- Nick Friedell

Kansas City Chiefs

It’s not too early to wonder whether the Chiefs' defense will be as bad in the regular season as it has looked in the preseason. Daniel became the third backup QB in three games to lead a TD drive against the starting defense, and Daniel didn’t stop at one. He guided four scoring drives against the starters, three for touchdowns. The problems, which include some dreadful play by cornerbacks other than Kendall Fuller, appear to run deep. -- Adam Teicher

Friday's games


Denver Broncos

The Broncos got their first win of the preseason with a well-rounded performance from the starters on both sides of the ball. Coach Vance Joseph said this past week the coaches "would look at the tape" of the starters' work against the Redskins to "really see where we are for the regular season." The Broncos showed balance on offense, got quality play from quarterback Case Keenum (12-of-18 for 148 yards passing), and the defense showed the kind of pressure it should be able to put on opposing passers. The Broncos' depth in the pass rush could be seen in the final minute of the game, when Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett and Clinton McDonald were still in the lineup. -- Jeff Legwold

Washington Redskins

The Redskins' defense was bad and the No. 1 offense couldn't do anything through the air. So it was up to running back Adrian Peterson to salvage a bad night. He was signed Monday and showed he still had something left, rushing 11 times for 56 yards. Whether he can repeat that week after week remains to be seen, but it's now hard to see anyone else starting in the season opener because the Redskins' other options for first- and second-down backs have yet to prove themselves. -- John Keim


New York Giants

Eli Manning went 17-of-23 passing for 188 yards in the first half, but he wasn't precise. The Giants didn't score a touchdown in Manning's three quarters of action this preseason. But it's hard to make a judgment on what this offense will become since it didn't have star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. at all and running back Saquon Barkley played only six snaps. They will surely help, and the hope is that the Giants will have everyone (including tight end Evan Engram who suffered a concussion) on the field for Week 1 against Jacksonville. -- Jordan Raanan

New York Jets

If the starting job is his to lose, Sam Darnold didn't lose it. It wasn't a lights-out performance, but he did a decent job in two-plus quarters. He started off hot with a long TD drive, but five of his next six series went three-and-out. The good: He battled poor field position and unfavorable down and distances but never lost his poise. Flip side: This was his first extended action against a starting D, and he wasn't as sharp as usual. Chances are he will end up with the job because he has had by far the most work with the starters, but he still has plenty of growing to do. -- Rich Cimini


Seattle Seahawks

You usually don't think of punters as weapons, but that's what the Seahawks have in rookie Michael Dickson. He had a 53.6-yard gross average on five punts, including two that pinned the Vikings at their 3-yard line. Dickson was leading the league in punting average (net and gross) through the first two preseason games. This is why the Seahawks traded up in the fifth round to draft him and why they moved on from long-time punter Jon Ryan earlier this week. They also decided on Sebastian Janikowski as their kicker this week, and he went 2-for-2 against Minnesota and is 3-for-3 in the preseason. The Seahawks have their share of question marks, but the kicking game looks as if it should be a strength. -- Brady Henderson

Minnesota Vikings

Overall, coach Mike Zimmer said he was pleased with Kirk Cousins' performance. He was accurate (17-for-28, 182 yards) on the majority of his throws, utilized his running backs well as pass-catching threats, and he was able to scramble and extend several drives. The first-team offense established a better rhythm than last week, but a ton of questions remain. The offensive line has struggled considerably with pass protection, and it remains to be seen whether trading for another team's backup or someone on the verge of getting cut will provide a quick way to remedy those issues. The Vikings have yet to determine roles for whomever will earn the third, fourth and fifth receiver jobs. Coverage on punt returns has been an issue, and Daniel Carlson's two missed field goal attempts are a cause for concern. -- Courtney Cronin


New England Patriots

The Patriots' defense didn't carry its momentum from Week 2, as the pass rush -- which looked so impressive against the Eagles -- couldn't generate any heat. The Panthers' opening drive, covering 9 minutes, 59 seconds, set the tone on an overall poor night. The biggest positive for the Patriots? No major injuries, as tight end Rob Gronkowski knocked off some rust by playing two series in his preseason debut and Tom Brady played the entire first half. -- Mike Reiss

Carolina Panthers

Assuming Cam Newton doesn't play in the preseason finale, which he never does, you have to consider his three games in Norv Turner's offense a success. He completed 26 of 38 attempts (68.4 percent) for 315 yards and one touchdown, including 11-of-17 for 142 yards in the dress rehearsal against New England. The makeshift offensive line held up well, so when the injured players return, depth will be a strength. The defense kept Tom Brady out of the end zone, so check that as a success for a Carolina team that is 3-0 in the preseason. -- David Newton


Detroit Lions

With the preseason probably over for most of the starters -- there's definitive reason for worry with Detroit's defense. The Lions struggled stopping the run when starters were in and gave up an easy touchdown drive to Tampa Bay's third-string quarterback, Ryan Griffin. While the pass rush appeared to be a bit better and Ricky Jean Francois looks like a good defensive line signing, the Lions defense looks as if it has a long way to go. The offense wasn't much better, with drops from receivers, some questionable blocking and a rushing game that averaged well below 4 yards per carry. Detroit has to hope its team improves greatly based on what it has shown in three preseason games. -- Michael Rothstein

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Running back Peyton Barber looked terrific, averaging 6.8 yards per carry, including a 14-yard touchdown. He runs hard and with intention. Wide receiver Chris Godwin made a really nice 11-yard touchdown catch working one-on-one against Pro Bowler Darius Slay. He looks poised for a big year. Backup guard Mike Liedtke stepped into the starting left tackle role and performed well. In his first preseason game since suffering a groin injury, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III had two key red zone pass breakups, both times forcing the Lions to settle for field goals. He has found his home at nickelback. Now the Bucs need to keep seeing what they have on the outside in rookie Carlton Davis. -- Jenna Laine


Green Bay Packers

The Packers better hope Aaron Rodgers never has to play without starting tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga -- or the rest of his starting offensive line for that matter. Backup tackle Kyle Murphy struggled mightily. He gave up a pair of sacks and was flagged for a pair of holding penalties. On a night when the Packers didn't play any of their projected O-line starters, the second O-line performed so poorly it was nearly impossible to evaluate Brett Hundley and DeShone Kizer in their battle for the backup quarterback job. On the positive side, rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander picked off his first pass. The first-round pick made an outstretched interception on a deep ball. Meanwhile, fellow rookie cornerback Josh Jackson nearly had his second pick-six in as many weeks. The second-round pick returned an interception for a touchdown, but it was wiped out by a penalty. -- Rob Demovsky

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders' starting offense wasn't on the field for more than a quarter-and-a-half, but there were a couple of good things, at least when quarterback Derek Carr was on the field. Carr hit receiver Amari Cooper for a 49-yard gain on the game's first play and finished 2-of-3 for 68 yards in leading that group to a field goal. Carr then exited after that one drive, along with most of the team's top skill-position players. Even with the starting offensive line in front of him for a little bit, backup quarterback Connor Cook struggled. He threw an interception and had another called back because of a penalty. He finished 6-of-15 for 72 yards and a 27.6 passer rating. Not many teams boast much depth at quarterback, but given Carr's recent injury history and the struggles of his backups, the Raiders have to remain concerned with their depth at the game's most important position. -- Nick Wagoner

Thursday's game


Philadelphia Eagles

Coach Doug Pederson entered Thursday's preseason game hoping quarterback Nick Foles and the first-team offense would get going. He did not get his wish. Foles' rocky preseason continued. He is 16-of-26 for 171 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and two fumbles lost over parts of two games. He has been sacked six times. The defending champs have some things to iron out on offense between now and the opener against the Falcons on Sept. 6. -- Tim McManus

Cleveland Browns

The Browns have reason to feel good about their quarterback situation exiting Thursday's preseason game against the Eagles. Tyrod Taylor was able to return after sustaining a left hand injury in the first quarter and showed no ill effects. Rookie QB Baker Mayfield, meanwhile, made a number of quality NFL throws, including a dart through traffic to C.J. Board for 19 yards. His interception aside, Mayfield had an encouraging night overall. -- Tim McManus