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Teams are all over the spectrum when it comes to how they are handling the preseason. Some have fielded starters in both of the first two games, and some have not yet played starters at all. Some played them the first week and not the second, and some the other way around. Most teams that have not yet played their first team will likely do so in Preseason Week 3, but there could be some that we never see until Week 1 of the regular season. These are the notes of interest from Week 2 of the preseason.
The Cardinals played a mix of starters and backup. The most interesting note from the game was a package that included two linemen and five linebackers with Isaiah Simmons, Zaven Collins, and Jordan Hicks on the field together.
J.J. Watt was activated from the PUP on Monday and returned to practice this week. Barring a setback, he is expected to be ready for Week 1.
Shawn Williams saw extensive action at strong safety, with most of his playing time coming after the starters were done. Williams looked pretty good and is a fairly safe bet to at least make the final roster. He looked better than currently projected starter Jalen Thompson in my opinion.
The Falcons have held many of their defensive starters out of both preseason games. There were no awe-inspiring performances, but Mykal Walker showed he can be effective and productive at the inside linebacker position should either of the starters go down.
Malik Harrison made his second start of the preseason and seemed to have solidified his hold on the starting job next to Patrick Queen, even before L.J. Fort suffered an ACL injury. Harrison continued to exit when sub-packages were used, so his upside may remain limited.
The Bills played mostly backups in warmup round two, but their rookie pass rushers are exciting. They started Greg Rosseau and A.J. Epenesa, with Rosseau recording his second sack of the preseason. Boogie Basham also saw early action against Chicago, going 4-1-1. Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes are still considered the starters, but if the youngsters continue to play so well, it will be hard for the Buffalo coaching staff to keep them off the field for long.
The Panthers are supposed to be running a 4-3 this year. The announced starting lineup for Saturday’s game showed a four-man front with Brian Burns and Morgan Fox at defensive end, but on the field, they were in a 3-4 on the first series, with three down linemen and Brian Burns and Hasaan Reddick standing up on the edge.
When they were in a 4-3, Jermaine Carter was in the middle, flanked by Shaq Thompson and Frankie Luvu. Carter and Thompson stayed on the field in sub-packages. We know what to expect from Thompson, a solid LB3 with a little upside, but with Jeremy Chinn moving to full-time safety, Carter could be surprisingly productive as a three-down middle linebacker.
The more I see the Panthers, the more concern I have about how Chinn is being used. He played a lot of deep center field against Baltimore.
We are only two preseason games in, but that is enough to tell this is not the same Bengals defense we saw last year. Both Tampa Bay and Washington rolled out their entire starting offense against Cincinnati, and both were shut down cold. The pass rush is invigorated with the additions of Trey Hendrickson and rookie Joseph Ossai. The Bengals are showing some 3-4 looks with Trey Hendrickson playing from a 2 point stance at times. So far, the starting unit has produced a pair of sacks on just 20 plays. Unfortunately, it is feared Oassi will be lost for the season with a torn meniscus. Noah Spence was signed to help with depth.
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