Daily Six-Pack: NFL preseason rewind

Here are six quick-hit thoughts on some of Week 1’s preseason NFL action.

1. Stafford was impressive.
While it was only the first preseason game of his young career, Matthew Stafford was awfully impressive Saturday against the Falcons. In his debut, Stafford completed 7 of 14 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. And if Keary Colbert didn’t have hands made of concrete, Stafford’s numbers would have been more impressive. Granted, he was playing against Atlanta’s backups, Detroit kept their starting offensive line largely intact and he did throw an interception that was returned 41 yards for a touchdown. But the key was that Stafford looked comfortable in the pocket, showed confidence in his throws and for a rookie, displayed great footwork and overall mechanics. He still has much to prove, but if he continues to play this well throughout the preseason, it might be hard for the Lions to keep the rookie off the field in his first year.

2. The Bears secondary looked shaky.
If Saturday’s preseason loss to the Bills was any indication of how Chicago’s secondary will play in the regular season, then the Bears are in trouble. Lee Evans abused cornerback Nathan Vasher repeatedly, while Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick completed over 88 percent of their passes. Granted, it was only one preseason game and rookie sixth round pick Al Afalava was impressive against the run. But the Bears look awfully thin in the secondary and if the starters perform as poorly as they did last night for the remainder of the preseason, then trouble could be on the horizon.

3. Bowe is answering Haley’s call.
Since training camp opened for the Chiefs, new head coach Todd Haley has been trying to make an example of receiver Dwayne Bowe by running him with the 2’s and 3’s in practice. On Saturday night, Bowe came off the bench and hauled in five catches for 70 yards in the Chiefs’ 16-10 loss to the Texans. While Bowe still isn’t running with the first time offense in practice, it’ll only be a matter of time before he climbs back up the depth chart. Haley can make an example of Bowe all he wants in preseason, but the third year wideout is too good to ride the bench during the regular season.

4. The Raiders have a new No. 1 receiver…
…and it isn’t first round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey either. Chaz Schilens caught five passes for 52 yards in the Raiders’ 31-10 beating of the Cowboys on Thursday night and more importantly, is emerging as JaMarcus Russell’s go-to receiver. The second-year wideout has reportedly been excellent in camp and assuming he continues to play well in preseason, should become Oakland’s No. 1 wideout in no time. At 6-4, 225 pounds, Schilens has excellent size, speed and pass-catching abilities.

5. Horrible start in Denver.
By all accounts, preseason means nothing – especially in terms of wins and losses. (After all, the Lions finished 4-0 in preseason last year and look how they turned out.) But considering their starting quarterback threw three interceptions in one half and their first round rookie running back sprained his knee, the Broncos were definitely hoping for a better outcome last Friday night in San Fran, where the 49ers beat Denver 17-16. Kyle Orton (whom the team acquired via the Jay Cutler trade this offseason) threw three picks in the first half, including one on the goal line after marching Denver up the field and into scoring range. While Orton probably just needs more time to learn Josh McDaniels’ offense, it was a rough start for a player who was also booed in a recent practice for throwing multiple interceptions as well. Knowshon Moreno should be ready for the Broncos’ regular season opener after spraining his knee against San Fran, he’ll lose out on valuable preseason time over the next couple weeks. All and all, the Broncos have to hate the way ’09 has gone so far.

6. The Falcons defense might be in trouble.
With Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez set for big seasons, the Falcons should have no trouble putting points on the board in 2009. But their young, experienced defense might be a huge area of concern for a team that many people believe is sleeper candidate to make a Super Bowl appearance this season. In their preseason opener against Detroit on Saturday, the Falcons gave up 454 yards of offense, barely got any pressure on the quarterback and couldn’t get off the field on third downs. Considering the Falcons are so young on that side of the ball, it might take awhile before things to start clicking. But Mike Smith couldn’t have liked what he saw out of either the starters or the backups, outside of the play of rookie corner Christopher Owens (who looked good in coverage) and linebacker Tony Gilbert (who returned a Matthew Stafford pass 41 yards for a touchdown).

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