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NFL Team Reports: AFC North

Cleveland Browns

WR Mohamed Massaquoi(notes) leapfrogged Brian Robiskie(notes) and became the Browns’ leading receiver in ’09, but Robiskie has responded and moved back ahead of Massaquoi in camp. Both were drafted in the second round of ’09, and Massaquoi’s quiet confidence and all-around game got the attention of the coaches. Even after Braylon Edwards(notes) was traded, Robiskie mostly sat last season while Massaquoi played in every game. Robiskie vowed to keep working and remain patient and QB Jake Delhomme(notes) has noticed that Robiskie has an uncanny knack for adjusting to downfield throws. Delhomme trusts Robiskie, who has made tough catch after tough catch. Massaquoi hasn’t done anything wrong, developing himself into a solid pro. …


Joshua Cribbs(notes) started at wide receiver last year but didn’t mesh with Brady Quinn(notes) or Derek Anderson(notes). In practice, Cribbs and backup QB Seneca Wallace(notes) have been electric together, but Cribbs is getting antsy about forming a bond with Delhomme. Wallace and Cribbs figure to be on the field together in the real games on a spot basis, so Cribbs is lobbying for a bigger role when Delhomme is playing.


— Steve Doerschuk

Baltimore Ravens

As he has become more familiar with the defense, DE Cory Redding(notes) has become more of a pass-rush threat. The Ravens signed Redding, who played with the Seahawks last year, in the offseason to bolster their pass rush with his ability to apply pressure inside or outside. Redding has shown great burst off the snap. The Ravens have both inside and outside threats this season, something they lacked a year ago when the team had no players who could collapse a pocket inside. …


One day after leaving the field with back spasms, DT Haloti Ngata(notes) returned Tuesday and said he expects to play vs. Carolina. Two players who probably won’t play are starting CBs Chris Carr(notes) (hamstring) and Fabian Washington(notes) (knee).

— Mike Preston


Cincinnati Bengals

RB/FB Brian Leonard’s(notes) left foot injury is potentially devastating to an offense counting on his versatility and resourcefulness. Originally diagnosed as a mid-foot sprain sustained Sunday vs. Dallas, Leonard visited a specialist Tuesday. He likely will miss the remainder of preseason and could land on I.R. if he has torn ligaments. Leonard was injured when he caught an 8-yard pass in the closing seconds of the first half and a player fell on the back of his heel, compressing his foot. With only three healthy backs (RBs Cedric Benson(notes) and Bernard Scott(notes) and backup FB Joe Tronzo(notes)), the club signed a former practice squad back, James Johnson(notes). Leonard led the backs in receptions (30) in 2009 and was a chain-moving machine as QB Carson Palmer’s(notes) favorite outlet receiver.


— Chick Ludwig


Pittsburgh Steelers

Stefan Logan(notes) set team single-season records with 55 kickoff returns and 1,466 kickoff-return yards in ’09, and he also ranked second in the AFC with a 26.7-yard kickoff-return average. But his roster spot might not be guaranteed. Rookie WRs Emmanuel Sanders(notes) and Antonio Brown(notes) and CB Joe Burnett(notes) likely will get looks as returners in preseason. If any of them proves productive, they could bump Logan off the roster because he doesn’t really play another position. The coaches have used him at running back and wide receiver in camp but would use him on offense only in an emergency.


— Gerry Dulac


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NFL Team Reports: AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars

Without getting too carried away, the Jaguars are encouraged by how much better QB David Garrard(notes) performed this week in joint practices with the Falcons. The passing game, in spring practices and the first week of camp, was erratic. There were way too many passes falling to the ground because of inaccuracy and drops. His performance in the weekend intrasquad scrimmage was classic Garrard — mixing an interception and a red-zone sack with a couple of TD passes. In Tuesday’s practice at Atlanta, Garrard hit TE Marcedes Lewis(notes) for a 50-yard touchdown and also connected with TE Zach Miller down the seam. Garrard completed all his passes in a red-zone drill, a rare sight in camp. …


Rookie DT Tyson Alualu(notes) continues to sit out with a left calf muscle problem. He missed the weekend intrasquad scrimmage and the two most intense practices against the Falcons. Nagging injuries have plagued the Jaguars, who put WR Nate Hughes(notes) on I.R. OLB Daryl Smith(notes) (hamstring) practiced Tuesday for the first time in camp.


— Gene Frenette


Houston Texans

One day after he visited a sports hernia specialist in Philadelphia, DE Mario Williams(notes) was on the field Tuesday for part of practice. Williams had been out since the third practice of camp because of inflammation in his hip that spread to his pelvic and groin region. After being told he doesn’t have a sports hernia, which probably would have required surgery, Williams returned and practiced for 30 minutes. Coach Gary Kubiak said he hopes Williams can play 10-12 snaps Saturday vs. Arizona. Injuries haven’t kept Williams out of the lineup during his first four seasons. Last season, he played with a shoulder injury that made it hard for him to pull his jersey on over his pads, and he finished with nine sacks and a second Pro Bowl appearance.


— John McClain


Indianapolis Colts

The team remains in major scramble mode with its offensive line. Pro Bowl C Jeff Saturday(notes) and rookie C/G Jacques McClendon(notes) have missed the past two days for undisclosed reasons. Unlike some players held out of practice who watch from the sideline, Saturday and McClendon haven’t done that. To make certain it has enough able bodies, the team signed rookie free agents Adrian Martinez(notes) and James Williams(notes) this week. Compounding matters has been the continued absence of LT Charlie Johnson(notes) (sprained right foot). …


WRs Anthony Gonzalez(notes) and Austin Collie(notes) have a novel way of preparing for their primary roles, which is being a target for QB Peyton Manning(notes). Frequently during special teams work, Gonzalez joins the other return specialists in fielding punts. He said that’s an ideal way to warm up his hands for catching passes. In a recent practice, Gonzalez and Collie fielded kickoffs. It’s doubtful the coaches would expose either to the risk of injury on special teams, though.


— Mike Chappell


Tennessee Titans

CB Tye Hill(notes) returned to practice Tuesday after missing the start of camp with a hamstring injury. Hill was limited to only individual drills but expects to be full-speed soon. He has some catching up to do. Hill’s veteran status might give him an edge against some of the younger players, but second-year CBs Jason McCourty(notes) and Ryan Mouton(notes) and rookie Alterraun Verner(notes) have stood out early in the competition to start opposite Cortland Finnegan(notes). …


Rookie RB LeGarrette Blount(notes) looks like a linebacker on the field. In fact, Blount (6-0, 249) is bigger than most of the Titans’ linebackers. The coaches like Blount’s bruising running style, and he will get plenty of carries in preseason. His running style could make him a nice change of pace, working in relief of blazing All-Pro RB Chris Johnson.


— Jim Wyatt

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NFL Team Reports: AFC East

New York Jets

The reality of Darrelle Revis’(notes) holdout is starting to hit home. Coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday that rookie first-round pick Kyle Wilson(notes) likely will start in Revis’ place Monday night vs. the Giants. A positive by-product of the holdout is that Wilson’s maturation might come a bit sooner because he is getting more reps with the first-string defense. Both sides seem to have dug in. Owner Woody Johnson told WEPN-AM: “I feel he will not be on the New York Jets team this year based on what I know today to this very moment. That could change, and I hope it does change.” …


There wasn’t much of a competition for the backup QB spot behind Mark Sanchez(notes). Ryan said Tuesday that veteran Mark Brunell(notes) is “pretty much a lock” for the No. 2 job. Kellen Clemens(notes), now battling for No. 3 job, has fallen out of favor with the coaches.


— J.P. Pelzman


Buffalo Bills

A knee injury sustained by promising rookie WR Marcus Easley(notes) the first week of camp might be worse than initially thought. Coach Chan Gailey said Easley is seeking a second opinion on how to address the injury. It could be a major setback. He is coming off a terrific spring, displaying good hands, speed and playmaking ability and was poised to challenge for a spot on the two-deep depth chart. Easley still will make the team no matter how long he’s out, but his absence creates an opportunity for undrafted rookies Naaman Roosevelt(notes), David Nelson(notes) and Donald Jones(notes) to win one of the final roster spots. Roosevelt, a Buffalo native, has been particularly impressive separating on short routes over the middle.

— Allen Wilson


Miami Dolphins

As the Dolphins enter their third season with a new regime in place, the team has yet to find a solidified group of starting offensive linemen. This is a slight surprise, considering coach Tony Sparano’s background as a former line coach. There are position battles at both guard spots and center. Rookie John Jerry(notes) appears to be the favorite at right guard with an open competition among Richie Incognito(notes), Donald Thomas(notes), Cory Procter(notes) and Nate Garner(notes) at left guard. At center, Joe Berger(notes) and Jake Grove(notes) are battling. Said Sparano: “Would I like it to settle down? Sure, yeah I think it would be important, but we had the same scenario last year in training camp, moving people around making sure that we had the right formula, and I think at the end of it all we had the right pieces going into the season.”


— Jeff Darlington


New England Patriots

The Patriots ramped up the intensity Tuesday in a joint practice with the Saints. WR Randy Moss(notes), who had dominated Patriots cornerbacks all camp, ran into trouble during the man-to-man drills. So he adjusted and wound up burning two Saints defensive backs for a long touchdown during team work. …


WR Wes Welker(notes) ran full-speed Tuesday, another checkmark for his ACL rehab. Couple that with Brandon Tate(notes) making acrobatic catches and rookie Taylor Price(notes) catching his second wind, and it looks as if Tom Brady’s(notes) passing offense could be as potent as ever. …


The Patriots’ running game remained a concern during the practice. G Logan Mankins(notes) continues to hold out, and fill-in Dan Connolly(notes) couldn’t block interior defensive linemen like Remi Ayodele(notes) and Sedrick Ellis(notes). Connolly works hard but lacks Mankins’ physical skills. Regardless of how good a camp RBs Laurence Maroney(notes) and Fred Taylor(notes) are having, they won’t be productive unless the line improves. Tuesday’s practice vs. the Saints only increases Mankins’ leverage in negotiations.


— Ian R. Rapoport

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NFL Team Reports: AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs

As many as six of the seven draft picks appear ready to contribute. Only one, S Eric Berry(notes), is likely to start the Sept. 13 opener vs. San Diego. Dexter McCluster(notes) will get the ball as a wide receiver, slot receiver and running back and possibly as a kick returner, and TE Tony Moeaki(notes) already is the best pass-catcher at his position. On defense, CB Javier Arenas(notes) will play a lot as the nickel back and help as a return specialist. S Kendrick Lewis(notes) is already pushing for a starting spot and LB Cameron Sheffield(notes) will be a key contributor on special teams. Only G Jon Asamoah(notes) truly is a developmental player, but he eventually should start. …

ILB Jovan Belcher(notes) had a strong offseason and is pushing Corey Mays(notes) for a starting strongside spot. Listed at 228 pounds, Belcher is the smallest of Chiefs linebacker but cuts through traffic nicely.


— Adam Teicher


Oakland Raiders

RBs Rock Cartwright(notes) and Michael Bennett are competing for the No. 3 spot behind Michael Bush(notes) and Darren McFadden(notes). Both Cartwright and Bennett are versatile, experienced and determined to extend their NFL careers. Cartwright is stronger than Bennett but not as fast. He also has an edge, based on his extensive work on special teams during his first eight seasons. The Raiders could keep both if both perform well in preseason games. …


With QBs Bruce Gradkowski(notes) and Charlie Frye(notes) sidelined, the coaches intend to use Colt Brennan(notes) in the second half of Thursday night’s game at Dallas. Brennan signed Saturday but has received a crash course on the offense and a fair amount of snaps in practice. Look for Brennan to come in at some point late in the third or early in the fourth quarter. He is a longshot to earn one of two backup spots behind starter Jason Campbell(notes). However, the coaches are interested in assigning him to their practice squad if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster.


— Steve Corkran


San Diego Chargers

The secondary will be much improved if CB Donald Strickland(notes) remains healthy. That’s a big “if,” considering he never has made it through a full season in seven years in the NFL. Strickland has brought knowledge, ability and a physical mentality to the nickel position. The defensive backs are allowing fewer completions and making more plays than in past training camps, and Strickland knowing and executing his job appears to be a major reason why. …


Many key players (OLB Antwan Applewhite(notes), WR Buster Davis, TE Antonio Gates(notes), FB Mike Tolbert(notes)) have been sidelined by sore hamstrings and groins. Most claim they could play if it were the regular season, but the coaches are being cautious with a largely set roster and the season a month away.


— Kevin Acee


Denver Broncos

Should RB Justin Fargas(notes) pass his physical — and that’s not a given considering his persistent knee problem — he will be immediately inserted into mix. Denver practiced Tuesday with just four players in the backfield, and that includes FB Spencer Larsen(notes). There’s no announced timetable for the return of Knowshon Moreno(notes) (hamstring) and Correll Buckhalter(notes) (back), but each is expected back by the opener. Considering that LenDale White(notes) (leg) has missed the last three practices and also is facing a four-game league suspension, Fargas has a chance to crack the roster if he plays well. Bruce Hall(notes) and Lance Ball(notes) have split first-team reps at various times over the last week and will get a huge workload Sunday in Cincinnati. …


ILB D.J. Williams(notes) returned to practice after sitting out all but the first camp practice and a walk-through with an undisclosed ailment. But it’s evident that Williams either isn’t completely healthy or the Broncos are taking every precaution not to lose a key defensive player. Williams wore a non-contact jersey Tuesday and only periodically participated in the team drills.


— Lee Rasizer

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Tomlin: Not certain if Roethlisberger will play

LATROBE, Pa. (AP)—Ben Roethlisberger(notes)  is permitted to play in all the Pittsburgh Steelers’ preseason games before his suspension begins. That doesn’t mean he will.

Coach Mike Tomlin wouldn’t say Thursday whether Roethlisberger will take a few snaps with the starters during Saturday night’s exhibition game against the Detroit Lions—the first time the quarterback will appear before his home crowd since being suspended for six games.

“We’re going to make you come to the stadium to check that out,” Tomlin said.

Because the starters will play only eight to 12 plays, it is unlikely both Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich(notes)  will get on the field, unless it’s for a few downs apiece. Leftwich will be the starter when the season opens and Roethlisberger’s suspension begins.

“I want to play—I want to be out there with the guys. I’d like to play the whole game,” Roethlisberger said. “If coach says I’m not going to play, it’s his call.”

There has been considerable speculation how Roethlisberger will be received in Heinz Field after being accused of sexually assaulting a Georgia college student in March. He was not charged but was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who is expected to reduce the punishment to four games before the season begins.

While numerous fans said a few months ago they were angered by his behavior and would no longer cheer for him, Roethlisberger is being treated enthusiastically by the thousands of fans who attend training camp daily. As camp progresses, more No. 7 jerseys are evident among the crowd. However, a filled stadium offers more opportunities for any displeased fans to jeer.

Is Roethlisberger nervous about his first game back, just as he was before his first practice last month?

“The fans have been awesome,” he said. “I think and hope it will be awesome. … I want to get back to Heinz, that’s my home.”

The Steelers could diffuse any anti-Roethlisberger sentiment by holding him out Saturday, especially since their next two preseason games will be on the road. They won’t be home again until Sept. 2, the final exhibition game against Carolina in which the starters usually play only a few downs.

Leftwich senses that the fans are ready to focus on the season, so he expects Roethlisberger to be well received.

“I’m quite sure if he’s out there playing, they’ll welcome him,” Leftwich said. “He’s trying to move on. It was great the first day he came out here (at camp), seeing the cheers he got. Pittsburgh loves guys who are on their team.”

So far, the Steelers have stayed with their prewritten quarterback script, which emphasizes getting Leftwich ready to start while making sure Roethlisberger gets plenty of work before he is barred from practice during his suspension.

“We started with a plan and we were very clear about that,” Tomlin said. “We’re going to provide Ben enough opportunities to have a productive camp and preseason and at the same time get clarity with our quarterback situation. I think we’ve stayed true to form thus far and we’ll continue with that as we get into the game.”

When they opened training camp nearly two weeks ago, Roethlisberger was the first quarterback to work with the regulars. Tomlin and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians intentionally did that to emphasize that Roethlisberger is the starter, suspension or not.

“So far, so good,” Tomlin said. “He’s been extremely sharp and I’ve been pleased with how he’s played the position.”

Dennis Dixon(notes), who started one game last season when Roethlisberger was hurt, is expected to play most of Saturday’s game. Charlie Batch(notes), the longtime backup who fell to No. 4 on the depth chart when Leftwich was signed, could finish up.

Maurkice Pouncey(notes), the first-round draft pick from Florida, will take snaps at center and right guard as the Steelers try to get him comfortable with both positions. Second-round pick Jason Worilds(notes), the outside linebacker from Virginia Tech, probably won’t play after missing practice time with a sore hamstring.

Two rookie wide receivers will get tryouts as returners, Emmanuel Sanders(notes) on kickoffs and Antonio Brown(notes) on punts.

(Yahoo)
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Pats beat Saints 27-24 as champs allow big plays

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP)—A new season, a different result, a lot of improvement left for the Super Bowl champions to make.

The New Orleans Saints gave up big plays and a decisive 28-yard field goal in the final minute as the New England Patriots opened their exhibition season with a 27-24 win Thursday night.

Last season’s title won’t help the Saints repeat.

“That’s been our mindset from the start,” linebacker Jonathan Vilma(notes) said. “We’ve got to prove ourselves all over again. We’ve got to keep working and improve on the little things.”

For the Patriots, it was a successful return to the field where their last game was a rout, a 33-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the playoffs.

That shouldn’t affect the coming season, either.

“It’s a new year. We’ve had 20 practices,” coach Bill Belichick said. “Whatever happened last year was last year.”

The Saints lost more than a game during their visit to New England, which began Tuesday with two days of joint practices.

On Wednesday, No. 3 running back Lynell Hamilton(notes) tore his right anterior cruciate ligament, an injury that likely will sideline him for the season. On the Saints first possession Thursday, punter Thomas Morstead(notes) hurt his left shoulder knocking Julian Edelman(notes) out of bounds after a 40-yard return and placekicker Garrett Hartley(notes) punted the rest of the night.

After the game, Morstead was walking with his arm in a sling. Coach Sean Payton said X-rays were negative, and Morstead was due for an MRI in New Orleans on Friday.

The Saints punted four times on their five first-half possessions and managed just a field goal on their last four of the game. Their final series ended with an interception. And there were plenty of missed tackles.

“Too many sloppy things we’ve got to get corrected,” Payton said. “I know it’s the first week of preseason; still, a lot of things are disturbing. … I think we’ll put the tape in and we’ll see it wasn’t just young players.”

On his first series since being voted Super Bowl MVP, Drew Brees(notes) threw an incompletion and was sacked for a 10-yard loss. But on his third and final possession, he led a 20-play, 86-yard march that lasted 10:01 and ended with a 2-yard scoring run by Reggie Bush(notes) that cut New England’s lead to 10-7.

Brees completed 9 of 13 passes for 55 yards.

Tom Brady(notes), a two-time Super Bowl MVP, played New England’s first two series and went 5-for-8 for 67 yards. In last year’s exhibition opener, he played for the first time since the 2008 regular-season opener, when a knee injury ended his season.

“This is all about establishing an attitude any time we step on the field,” New England tight end Alge Crumpler(notes) said. “Regardless of who we play or what the circumstances are, if we play together as a team good things will happen.”

Gostkowski kicked the winning 28-yard field goal with 53 seconds left after Darnell Jenkins(notes) caught a short pass from seventh-round draft pick Zac Robinson(notes) and turned it into a 52-yard gain. The Saints also allowed kickoff returns of 52 and 50 yards by first-round draft pick Devin McCourty(notes).

The Patriots held out wide receiver Wes Welker(notes) despite his strong comeback from a torn ACL in his left knee suffered in the last regular-season game. He is expected to be ready for the opener Sept. 12 at home against Cincinnati.

“The players who didn’t dress we didn’t think were ready to play,” Belichick said.

New Orleans beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in the Super Bowl, overcoming a 17-16 fourth-quarter deficit and scoring the final touchdown on a big play, Tracy Porter’s(notes) 74-yard interception return.

“We pretty much put the Super Bowl behind us,” Porter said. “We were rusty and have to execute better in all aspects of the game.”

New England played much better than in New Orleans last year, a 38-17 loss in which Brees threw five touchdown passes and gave the Saints an 11-0 record.

Without Welker, Edelman had another big game with six catches for 90 yards. He caught six passes in the playoff loss to Baltimore

“I learn everything (from Welker). I learn how to be a professional,” last year’s seventh-round draft pick said. “Wes has been a huge part of helping me develop and still is.”

The Patriots scored on their first three possessions, getting a 35-yard field goal by Gostkowski; a 6-yard run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes); and a 5-yard run by Laurence Maroney(notes). Reggie Bush scored on a 2-yard run for the Saints, who trailed 17-7 at halftime.

The Patriots made it 24-7 on the first series of the third quarter when Maroney scored on a 1-yard run after McCourty’s 52-yard kickoff return.

But the Saints came right back on Larry Beavers’(notes) 97-yard kickoff return and Chris Ivory’s 2-yard run, then tied the score on Hartley’s 23-yard field goal with 2:40 remaining.

Notes: Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis, recovering from surgery on his right thumb, was on the sideline. … New England’s Chris Taylor led all rushers with 39 yards on eight carries. … The only turnover, an interception by Eric Alexander(notes) of the Patriots, came on the next-to-last play.

(Yahoo)

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Oakland pours it on late, beats Dallas 17-9

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Preseason games are all about breaking in new plays and new players. Some old standards still apply, though—basics like the importance of getting touchdowns whenever the offense is, say, within 16 yards of the goal line.

The Dallas Cowboys got a reminder Thursday night.

Dallas managed only three field goals out of drives that were 16, 13, 9 and 10 yards from reaching the Oakland end zone. The Raiders made the Cowboys pay for their inefficiency, scoring all of their points—two touchdowns and a field goal—in the final 4:58 to pull out a 17-9 victory.

“The thing that jumped out at me here is we just continue to keep battling,” Oakland coach Tom Cable said. “A lot of things to be excited about, a lot of work to do still, but with the spirit of the team, I think we’re in a place we need to be.”

Dallas had snaps from Oakland’s 16, 13, 9 and 10 without getting into the end zone. One of those drives was stopped on downs, and the others were settled by David Buehler(notes) making kicks of 42, 27 and 28 yards, putting the Cowboys ahead 9-0.

Kyle Boller(notes) got Oakland’s rally going by driving 80 yards in 13 plays, hitting Nick Miller(notes) with a 4-yard touchdown pass. There were questions whether he had both feet inbounds, but officials watched replays and said he did.

The Raiders went ahead 10-9 with 2:24 left when Sebastian Janikowski(notes) nailed a 28-yard field goal. Oakland turned to its ace kicker because backup Swayze Waters(notes) had badly missed a 34-yarder at the start of the fourth quarter.

Raiders safety Jerome Boyd(notes) stretched the lead when he intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown with 33 seconds left. The Cowboys were driving for a possible tying touchdown when fourth-stringer Matt Nichols(notes) threw another interception on a heave into the end zone on the final play.

“I tell you what I told the team: this proves we have more work to do,” Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. “I’m not happy obviously with the results. I thought we played more like the first preseason game than the second one in some areas. I thought we had complete control of the game and lost in the fourth quarter.”

Part of Dallas’ offensive woes trace to the line, which gave up four sacks in 20 snaps. Cowboys quarterbacks have been sacked 11 times in two preseason games.

“It’s something we’re working on, and we’ll continue to work on,” center Andre Gurode(notes) said.

Romo was sacked three times on the opening drive, twice after getting to the 16. Jon Kitna(notes) got a series with the starting blockers and wound up getting sacked, too, nearly for a safety.

At least one sack could’ve been Romo’s fault for holding the ball too long. But at least one was the fault of Doug Free(notes), the new starter at left tackle.

Romo was 4 of 7 for 52 yards, with a 7-yard scramble for a first down. Kitna was 8 of 11 for 96 yards.

Oakland’s new starting quarterback Jason Campbell(notes) never came close to scoring on his four drives. Then again, he was facing a defense that came out with regular-season intensity, with linebackers Bradie James(notes) and Keith Brooking(notes) treating Campbell as if he was still with the rival Redskins.

Campbell’s first two drives went three-and-out. When his final series got rolling, the top nickel unit came back for a fourth-and-1 and Campbell’s pass sailed way over his target, tight end Zach Miller.

“It was the first time in a long time that I had some jitters in pregame warmups,” said Campbell, who was 7 of 13 for 49 yards. “Once the game started, I was OK. I felt comfortable. I’m just trying to learn my teammates.”

Campbell converted only one third down out of six. He was sacked once and didn’t have a turnover. He also indoctrinated himself as a Raiders QB by throwing deep twice, once down each sideline; the first was broken up by a rookie free agent, the other was caught out of bounds.

Boller was 12 of 21 for 148 yards. Cable never turned to third-stringer Colt Brennan(notes).

For the Cowboys’ defense, this marked the second straight game they pitched a shutout for three quarters, then their deep reserves let it get away.

“It’s all a growing process,” James said. “Each game you just play to get in shape. You use the preseason to get in game shape for the regular season. This is really our second game so I wanted to come out and make some plays.”

Dallas also can feel better about Buehler, the linebacker-sized kicker who specialized in kickoffs as a rookie last season. By making all three of his tries, he’s 6 of 7 this preseason. All four of his kickoffs turned into touchbacks, too.

(Yahoo)
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Ravens score early in 17-12 win over Panthers

BALTIMORE (AP)—Joe Flacco(notes)  took his new offense on a test drive against the Carolina Panthers, and had a smooth ride.

Flacco produced two scores in an abbreviated appearance, and the Ravens’ defense held Carolina without a touchdown in a 17-12 preseason victory Thursday night.

Flacco went 8 for 12 for 120 yards and a TD. He guided Baltimore to a field goal in his first series, then went three-and-out before directing a 96-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Mark Clayton(notes).

“We need to clean some things up, but overall it was a good start,” Flacco said.

The Panthers, conversely, stumbled from the outset and never recovered. Starting quarterback Matt Moore(notes)—hindered by poor protection and three penalties against left tackle Jordan Gross(notes) totaling 25 yards—failed to produce any points during his three possessions.

Backup Jimmy Clausen(notes) went 8 for 15 for 80 yards and an interception in his informal NFL debut. He was sacked twice.

“There were good things that happened and definitely some things I need to work on,” the rookie said. “But overall it was good to get out there with bullets flying around for the first time.”

Carolina turned the ball over on a fumble at the goal line by running back Tyrell Sutton(notes) that Baltimore recovered on its own 1.

“I thought offensively we killed ourselves a little bit with some penalties, the fumble down at the 1,” coach John Fox said. “I thought we moved the ball efficiently. We hurt ourselves some, but we had a lot of young guys out there.”

A torrential rain began in the third quarter, causing a sloppy game to become even messier.

Carolina’s lone touchdown came when C.J. Wilson took a fumble by fourth-string running back Jalen Parmele(notes) into the end zone from 31 yards. John Kasay(notes) missed the extra point, leaving Carolina down 10-9.

Later in the quarter, Baltimore’s Prince Miller(notes) broke seven tackles during a 57-yard punt return. That set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Troy Smith(notes) for a 17-9 lead.

In an effort to bolster a passing game that last season relied too heavily on dumpoffs to Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice(notes), the Ravens added wide receivers Anquan Boldin(notes) and Donte’ Stallworth(notes). They also spread out the alignment to take advantage of Flacco’s skilled right arm.

Baltimore amassed 196 yards in offense in the first half, only 22 of them on the ground. Rice started but did not touch the ball.

“The offense looked pretty good,” said running back Willis McGahee(notes), who had four catches during the 96-yard drive. “I think we’re where we want to be at this point in time, but we still have a lot of work to do. We need to do a better job blocking for the quarterback; still, we’re all happy that we kept moving the ball down the field.”

After a sack by safety Tom Zbikowski(notes) ended Carolina’s opening series, Flacco completed a 23-yard pass to Derrick Mason(notes) on Baltimore’s first play from scrimmage. The third-year quarterback then hit Clayton for 18 yards on third-and-10 to set up a 32-yard field goal by free agent pickup Shayne Graham(notes).

Late in the first quarter, after a punt pinned the Ravens on their 4, Flacco went 6 for 6 for 79 yards in a 10-play drive that put Baltimore ahead 10-0. His initial completion of the drive was a 12-yarder to Boldin, and Clayton’s reception in the end zone took place in front of Captain Munnerlyn(notes).

“Mark was one-on-one on the edge,” Flacco said. “I just had to give time to get on top of the guy, and he made an unbelievable play.”

There was speculation Clayton’s playing time this season would be squeezed by Boldin, Stallworth and Mason, but Clayton finished with a team-high 48 yards receiving.

“Mark played tonight like he has all camp, and he’s had a good camp,” Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said.

Stallworth and Boldin had one catch.

(Yahoo)
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