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NFL Pre-season: Winners and losers from week two

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Patriots RBs. The Patriots rushing attack pounded out 250 yards on the ground Friday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. Overall, a much better performance than the previous week of 63 total rushing yards, with the Pats splitting carries between rookies James White and Roy Finch, along with Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and Jonas Gray. Although Ridley’s chronic fumbling problems continue, it was still an impressive night from the Patriots backs.

Jimmy Graham. Even without Drew Brees in the game, Graham caught 5 passes for 48 yards, including two touchdowns. Graham celebrated both scores with celebratory dunks over the goal post, drawing two unsportsmanlike penalties. After heated off-season negotiations, Graham recently signed a four-year, $40 million contract and, even though it’s pre-season, it’s definitely looking like his monster paycheque is well deserved.

Russell Wilson. The Super Bowl winning quarterback’s home opener was impressive as Wilson threw for 121 yards and ran for two scores. Wilson looked sharp out of the gate, completing his first eight passes against the San Diego Chargers. He finished the night 11 for 13 and led Seattle to scores on all four of his possessions.

Andy Dalton. Dalton continues to impress in the pre-season. After a strong debut last week, you wouldn’t think Dalton could get much better. But he did. How about a perfect passer rating of 158.3 against the New York Jets? Dalton finished 8 of 8 for 144 yards and a touchdown. It’s now looking like the recent six-year contract extension he signed was a smart move by the Bengals.

Kyle Rudolph. Playing the entire first half, Rudolph led the team in receiving yards and connected with QB Matt Cassel for a score. Rudolph enters his fourth season and is poised to have a breakout year under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner.


T.J. Yates. Yates, who is competing for the backup job behind Matt Ryan, played against his old Houston team and it became abundantly clear why the Texans showed him the door. Yates’ performance was dismal, completing only 4 of 11 passes while throwing two interceptions. “Not a lot of stuff went right”, Yates said after the game. You are correct T.J. Not a lot did.

Eli Manning. Six yards. That’s not a typo. It’s Eli Manning’s total completion yards in his game against the Indianapolis Colts. Manning finished 1 of 7 and was fortunate to have an interception wiped away by a Colts penalty. Manning is coming off a subpar 2013 season where he threw a career high 27 interceptions. After his performance Saturday night, the upcoming season is looking less and less like the Super Bowl MVP we once knew.

EJ Manuel. The Bills starting offense failed to score a touchdown in its third straight game. Manuel looked sloppy, completing 17 of 27 passes for 148 yards and an interception. Big things are expected at Orchard Park this year with the addition of fourth overall pick Sammy Watkins. Watkins left the game early in the first quarter with a rib injury and did not return. With their big playmaker sidelined, Manuel sputtered to generate a scoring drive while playing the entire first half.

Ahmad Dixon. When you’re a seventh-round pick, your chances of making the roster are already stacked against you. When you’re late for a walkthrough, your chances of playing in the upcoming game for the Cowboys drop to none. Dixon, after recording 12 tackles in last week’s pre-season game, was benched by coach Jason Garrett in Saturday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens for being tardy to the team activity. With player cuts fast approaching, sitting on the sidelines is no way to secure a spot on the team.

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