NFL Preseason 2023 Week 2 Takeaways and Schedule

NFL NationESPNAugust 18, 2023, 10:39 PM ET6 minutes of reading

Bryce Young reunites with Adam Thielen for the first time

Bryce Young’s 7-yard pass found Adam Thielen, who made the catch and gained a first down.

The second week of preseason games for the 2023 NFL season kicked off Thursday night with a matchup between the defending NFC champions. Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns.

On Friday, the New York Giants hosted the Carolina Panthers and the Cincinnati Bengals were on the road against the Atlanta Falcons.

There are 11 games on Saturday and one each on Sunday and Monday. Saturday’s slate features several interesting games, including Jacksonville at Detroit, Buffalo at Pittsburgh and New England at Green Bay. The action concludes Monday night at Baltimore on ESPN.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the first three games, along with Week 2’s preseason schedule.

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Friday games

Bengal: It wasn’t just the two postseason games that left a Joe Burrow-less offense lacking sharpness. After Burrow went down in the second practice of training camp with a strained right calf, the offense sputtered.

On Friday, backup quarterback Jake Browning (16-for-22 for 140 yards) was better than Trevor Siemian (7-for-14 for 62 yards) in his turn to start the rotation. But the Bengals didn’t get an offensive touchdown until the final 50 seconds of Friday’s first two preseason games, and the passing game wasn’t the only reason. The run game was inefficient and penalties ruined drives.

Unless the Bengals get some improvement or find another way at backup quarterback, Cincinnati can’t afford to see Burrow hurt in the regular season.

The Bengals trotted out their first-team defense for a brief stint against the Falcons. We’ll see if the Bengals follow suit in the preseason finale against Washington. — Ben Baby

Next game: At Commanders (6:05 p.m. ET Saturday, August 26)

Falcons: Atlanta got a little bit of everything in its lone offensive drive with the game’s starters. Quarterback Desmond Ridder completed 7 of 9 passes, and even though the drive ended with an interception, a tip-ball pick by Joseph Ozai.

Bijaon Robinson was the touted running back, made defenders miss, showed high-level speed and has been the same throughout training camp. He has the makings of a special player with four carries for 20 yards. The biggest concern was the addition of four penalties from the first offensive unit, including two holding calls on guard Chris Lindstrom, in his first four NFL seasons.

Atlanta played most of its starters on each side of the ball against the Bengals in one series. While it’s possible Atlanta will return some starters Thursday against Pittsburgh, it would be surprising to see most of them back in action against Carolina on Sept. 10, 1 week ago. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Steelers (7:30 p.m. ET Thursday, August 24)

Cheetahs: Rookie quarterback Bryce Young needs some help.

He needed it from his offensive line, which allowed the No. 1 overall pick in the draft to take a couple of bad hits (e.g., left tackle Ikem Ekwonu was hit twice) and incur costly penalties (e.g., a hold on rookie right tackle Chandler Zavala dismissed a 15-yard, third-down catch).

He needs it from his wide receivers, who are consistently sluggish in running the route. Last week Laviska Shenold Jr. ran very deep on a third-down play. Freshman Jonathan Mingo blocked his route on a third-down throw Friday night.

The good news is that Young didn’t lose his cool or make any costly mistakes. He completed 3 of 6 passes for 35 yards on two series (17 plays) and led a 15-play, 62-yard drive for a field goal. Progress, but those around Young aren’t winning football. — David Newton

Next game: vs. Lions (8 p.m. ET Friday, August 25)

Giants: Consider it a dream preseason finish for the Giants starters, coach Brian Dabold said he would like to see at some point in the season. Quarterback Daniel Jones, making his first appearance since signing a four-year contract in March, was a $160 million player. He came close to perfect on his only drive, completing 8 of 9 passes (including three to freshman tight end Darren Waller) for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Offseason addition wide receiver Parris Campbell had two receptions on drives, making it good for everyone. Sophomore linebacker Keivon Thibodeaux had a sack and pressure on a play in the second quarter, and rookie wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, a third-round pick out of Tennessee, used his blazing speed to connect for 33 on a deep ball. Yard touchdown from backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

All in all, the Giants got everything they could have hoped for from their starting lineup in limited action against the Panthers. It’s unlikely we’ll see most of them play again in the season opener on Sunday night, September 10th against the Dallas Cowboys.— Jordan Ranan

Next game: vs. Jets (6 p.m. ET Saturday, August 26)

Thursday’s game

Eagles: Linebacker Nacob Dean provided confidence that the middle of the defense was in good hands. Dean, one of the only starters scheduled to see action for Philadelphia, shot into the backfield, hit John Kelly Jr. and knocked the ball loose, creating a turnover near the Eagles’ goal line. Safety K’Von Wallace recovered it for a Philly takeaway. The Eagles face uncertainty at linebacker after the departures of starters DJ Edwards and Kysir White in free agency. Dean, a sophomore out of Georgia, is expected to guard the MIKE linebacker spot, where he’ll be charged with relaying calls and receiving the defensive package. He’s been dealing with an ankle injury and has had a pretty quiet summer to this point, but showed some athleticism Thursday that made him a star for the eventual national champion Bulldogs. — Tim McManus

Next game: vs. Colts (8 p.m. ET, Thursday, August 24)

Browns: Rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson continued his outstanding preseason with another impressive performance against Philadelphia. Playing the first half in his first career pro start, Robinson-Thompson completed 13 of 25 passes for 164 yards. He also rushed for 18 yards on four carries. He led the Browns on three drives inside the Philly 25-yard line. The former UCLA star has established himself as Cleveland’s long-term backup QB behind starter Deshaun Watson. This season behind Watson and Joshua Dobbs, DTR is no. 3 will be the QB. But he’ll be the No. 2 QB by 2024. — Jack Trotter

Next game: At Headquarters (1 p.m. ET Saturday, August 26)

NFL preseason games on Saturday

Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions: 1 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans: 4 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers: 6:30 p.m. ET

Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts: 7 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets: 7:30 pm ET

New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers: 8 pm ET

Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings: 8 p.m. ET

Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals: 8 pm ET

Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers: 8:30 pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams: 9 pm ET

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks: 10 p.m. ET, NFL Network

NFL preseason game on Sunday

New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Chargers: 7:05 pm ET, NFL Network

NFL preseason game on Monday

Baltimore Ravens at Washington Commanders: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

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