Short Story: Russell Wilson And Other Notes From Friday's NFL Action

Aug 24, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) outruns Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry (29) in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

Russell Wilson stole the show on Friday night, but there were plenty of notable performances around the NFL as the preseason continued.

Saturday will be the most hyped day of the preseason for young quarterbacks as Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck go face-to-face. Friday night featured some talented young quarterbacks of its own, but nobody stole the show like Seattle's Russell Wilson.

Six drives, six scores, Wilson and the Seahawks picked apart a woeful-looking Kansas City Chiefs team. Wilson finished the game 13-for-19 with 185 yards and two touchdowns. He added 58 yards on the ground with two runs, one of them flipping a third-and-seven to a new set of downs with a 31-yard scramble. More impressive was his deep accuracy; he had four passes for more than 20 yards. Wilson even made Terrell Owens relevant again, on one play at least, hitting the infamous receiver for 40 yards.

Matt Flynn sat on the sidelines in jogging pants or whatever it is you wear while dealing with a sore elbow, watching the starting quarterback gig he once had a lock on slip away. Despite that, motivational speaker and head coach Pete Carroll refused to name Wilson his starter after the game.

Field Gulls took a closer look at Wilson's performance:

Wilson did pretty much everything you could have asked for in his first start, against Kansas City's first team defense - made throws into tight windows from the pocket, led the offense on efficient, point-scoring drives, didn't turn the ball over, extended plays that had broken down, and spread the football around the field and to his different playmakers - his first five passes went to five separate receivers, and 12 Seahawk players caught passes. In terms of the little things - on first glance it's tough to tell if he did a good job of going through progressions and all that, but I did think he worked his cadence well and used the play clock intelligently, and he checked out of a couple of different calls for audibles. Overall, it was certainly a positive performance by Wilson and he's really putting the heat on for this coaching staff to name him the starter.

This was Wilson's first preseason start, coming against a Chiefs team that was picked apart by the Rams the week before this one. Impressive as it was, all things in perspective this time of year; it is still the preseason.


Separating the story from the performance makes it tough to decipher Wilson's outstanding preseason. Arrogant draft analysts had their conclusions drawn in January. Wisconsin's quarterback fit the college ranks perfectly, but he was far too short to make it in the NFL at 5'11. His critics keep losing bets against him, and Wilson's indomitable spirit might be his greatest asset.

Wilson has more Horatio Alger and far less piety than Tim Tebow. Whether he can be a first-tier starter or not, it is hard to root against the guy.


Russell Wilson was hardly the only other player in action on Friday night. Let's take a look the names that jumped off the page.


Brandon Weeden -- Things started so well for the grand old man of this year's rookie class. He completed his first four passes of the game's opening drive before things fell apart in the red zone. He was sacked and had the ball stripped out of his hands, setting up the start of an Eagles thrashing.

Nick Foles -- The Eagles had their own rookie quarterback in action Friday night, starting their third-round pick in place of an ailing Michael Vick. His interception was a classic rookie mistake, trying to force something to happen by putting the ball downfield as the defense chased him out of the pocket. He threw a pair of touchdowns, helped by great field position on turnovers.

Bleeding Green Nation put Foles' performance in perspective:

The Foles hype can be a bit of a joke at times, but it's hard to watch Foles and not be seriously impressed. Who knows how it will translate to the regular season- or if we will ever see it- but Foles has aced his preseason test.

Ryan Tannehill -- Miami's new starting quarterback had a rough game, through no fault of his own. Dropped passes and blown routes reminded audiences that the Dolphins' rookie quarterback is due for some ups and downs this season.

Christian Ponder -- The Vikings' second-year quarterback has not had much attention this month, and he might not get any for a few more months. Nevertheless, Ponder has done a nice job. Who knew having adequate pass protection could be so helpful for a quarterback (take note Chicago Bears)? He looked for Percy Harvin six times on Friday night, and his connection with tight end Kyle Rudolph seems to be well established.

Matt Cassel -- Kansas City fans can't feel good about what they saw on Friday. Cassel was 19-for-34 for 168 yards. Worse, he threw a pick and lost a fumble. The Chiefs will have to lean on Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hills in 2012.


Running Backs

David Wilson -- The Giants' first-round pick stole the show among running backs on Friday. He had five carries for 49 yards and caught two passes for 26 yards. The Virginia Tech product can do it all. Wilson started in place of Ahmad Bradshaw against the Bears, and may be on his way to cementing that spot.

Doug Martin -- Tampa Bay finally gave their first-round pick the start, and he did not disappoint. He had 13 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown, as well as three catches for 12 yards. LeGarrette Blount will move into more of the power back role as well as mop up duty for the Bucs.

Stevan Ridley -- Being a Patriots running back is living anonymously, but Ridley gave his coaches at least something to think about in the running game. He picked up 87 yards on 16 carries, adding a touchdown in New England's 30-28 loss. With Shane Vereen's foot sending him to the sideline, Ridley could be the go-to guy for the Patriots.

Robert Turbin -- Russell Wilson was hardly the only one doing important things in Seattle. Their rookie running back, working in place of Marshawn Lynch, had 93 yards and a touchdown on 14 attempts. It helps to have Wilson confusing the hell out of defenses.

Wide Receivers

Sidney Rice -- Get a good look, because you saw a brief glimpse of a healthy Sidney Rice. Savor it, because it probably won't last. If it does, the Seahawks will be that much better.

Dexter McCluster -- The Chiefs finally dropped the idea that McCluster is a running back. He led the team with seven catches for 61 yards, and he could be one of the more intriguing slot receivers this season.

Julio Jones -- Four catches, 90 yards ... just another day at the office for Jones. Numbers like that will look disappointing in a few weeks given the kind of year the Alabama product is poised for in 2012.

Defense & Others

Prince Amukamara - What is it about being a Giants cornerback that almost guarantees injury? A cold tub bath may seem like a nice change of pace after suffering a high ankle sprain on Friday night. For those of us without any medical training, that's the bad kind of ankle sprain, the kind that could keep him on the shelf for a month or more. He had just earned the starting job in place of an injured Terrell Thomas.

Mark Barron - Doug Martin was not the only Bucs' rookie with a big performance on Friday. Safety Mark Barron scooped a tipped Tom Brady pass out of the air and ran it back for a touchdown.


Bears Offensive Line -- Jay Cutler cannot feel too good about what happened on Friday against the Giants. Mike Tice shuffled through offensive tackles to no avail. Cutler was constantly harassed, and though he was never sacked, the pressure led to some shaky passes. So far through the preseason, the Bears are in a race with the Cardinals and Jets for the offensive line most likely to get their quarterback(s) killed.

Who else stood out in Friday's games? Tell us in the comments.

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