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NFL Debrief: A football-like substance & New York's other QB battle

The Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins kicked off the preseason on Sunday night. Elsewhere, training camp rolled on with more injuries and another quarterback battle worth watching.

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Jason Miller

At what point during Sunday's Hall of Fame Game did you become bored? I made it through the first half without groaning. The play was decent enough, for a first taste of football, to start the game. By the second quarter, I was able to coast on fumes of excitement from earlier in the day.

Then I watched Alex Tanney fumble the ball early in the third quarter.

We saw a football-like substance on Sunday night, but it's more than we've had for six months. It certainly beats the hell out of counting Mark Sanchez's training camp completions, or lack thereof.

We'll have regular football in about a month.


Poor Ryan Tannehill. Did the Dolphins really have that much faith in Jonathan Martin? They let Jake Long walk, but ended up in a bidding war with the Rams to get him. They lost. And now Tannehill has to try and climb to the next level of his career with a broken screen door to keep pass rushers away.

He didn't end up playing for long. Maybe he should have stayed in there longer. Obviously, he could have used the work. Backup Dallas Thomas wasn't much better. He was obliterated by George Selvie for a second quarter sack on Matt Moore.



Over at The Phinsider, they were more understanding of the offensive line's struggles.

... look at this game as a scrimmage, and expected this from the line. If they still look confused next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, I will start to worry a little.

There is time to iron out the kinks, but this isn't surprising. I know you're not supposed to put a lot of stock in a preseason game, the first preseason game of the year at that, but the Dolphins may have a real problem on their hands.

Backup runners

Dallas' offense was devoid of star power for this one. Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and others all sat. Kyle Orton only played one series. That made a platoon of backup running backs the star of the show for the Cowboys.

Fifth-round pick Joseph Randle got the most work out of the four backs in the game. He carried the ball 13 times for 70 yards against Miami's second and third string defenses. The Cowboys were confident enough in No. 2 back Lance Dunbar that he only played the first series. That gave Phillip Tanner the chance to steal the show with his straight ahead, downhill style of running.

Blogging the Boys had this to say about Tanner's night:

Tanner had several broken tackles and scored on a goal-line play where Frederick and Leary cleared a big hole up the middle that let Tanner cross the goal line before a Dolphins linebacker filled it.

The interior of Dallas' offensive line deserves some credit too, including oft-mocked first-round pick Travis Frederick. That was a concern for the Cowboys heading into the season, and there were positive signs.

Tanner also had the helmet-less carry, which is not a first for him.


This is the most preseason football thing ever. Even more preseason-esque than watching Alex Tanney throw the ball.

This week's major injury is ...

Green Bay Packers left tackle Bryan Bulaga. The Milwaukee Journal reported Sunday night that Bulaga hurt his knee in Saturday's scrimmage. Pro Football Talk followed up with a report that Bulaga tore his ACL, which would end his season. The team hasn't confirmed anything yet, but it looks bad.

The Packers moved Bulaga to the left side this year because Marshall Newhouse allowed nine sacks and 54 total pressures on Aaron Rodgers last season. Newhouse could be the left tackle again now, and that's a big concern for a team that inked its quarterback to a $130 million deal under four months ago.

Percy Harvin, Michael Crabtree, Dan Koppen, Dennis Pitta ... Bulaga joins good company on the list of players suffering a major offseason injury. That's not a comprehensive list either.

The preseason favorites in each conference have been hit the hardest. One team among the league's top tier has escaped the injury bug so far: Atlanta. Remember that when you start making preseason picks.

The other New York QB battle

You have to fight the tendency to talk about the Jets quarterback battle between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. It's hard to look away from a disaster in progress. But there's a more interesting and more important quarterback battle happening in the Empire State.

Kevin Kolb and E.J. Manuel are vying for the Bills' starting job. Most thought Manuel would need some time as an understudy, but that was before Kolb slipped on a wet floor mat. Kolb's career gets more like an Onion story every year.

Manuel's had an up-and-down camp so far. Peter King watched him loft perfect deep balls to his receivers in practice last week. It was enough to convince King that the job would belong to the rookie soon enough, a classic vague prediction from King.

Then the rookie had one of those down days on Sunday. According to Buffalo Rumblings, Manuel missed open receivers and threw three interceptions. Kolb watched from the bench, wondering if he should change out the bathmats in his apartment.

Buffalo started its camp later than most teams. There's no doubt that at some point, Doug Marrone will turn to his first-round pick to take over. For now, future journeyman Kolb still has a chance to earn the starting job.

Let's go back to Sunday night's preseason game. I'd just like to point out the following GIF.


Ah, everything's slowly getting back to normal.

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