The 2022 NFL preseason is officially in the books. All 32 teams are now setting their sights on finalizing their rosters and preparing for Week 1. That doesn’t mean the final preseason games were unimportant, however. Here’s a look at some key takeaways from each team’s last exhibition action:
Andy Isabella might still emerge. The former second-round speedster has been quiet through three NFL seasons, but he had 115 yards against the Titans. Could he stick around, with DeAndre Hopkins‘ suspension looming?
Desmond Ridder isn’t ready yet. But neither is the setup around him, and that may be true for a while. The rookie QB was hot and cold on a streaky day for Atlanta’s offense despite a win over the Jaguars.
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Anthony Brown belongs as QB3. The undrafted Oregon product dazzled as both a scrambler and big-play thrower against the Commanders, seemingly giving Baltimore yet another young dual-threat under center.
They need a punter. Obvious, yes, but after abruptly sitting and then cutting Matt Araiza in the wake of his alleged off-field misconduct, they can’t enter the year with Matt Barkley as a special teams regular.
Baker Mayfield is ready. His shoulder is intact, his throws have zip, and he’s spreading the ball around. He’d better be ready, too, considering Sam Darnold is now unavailable for the foreseeable future.
The defense should be solid. This would’ve been a decent bet with Matt Eberflus taking over, but even without top starters playing, they had their way with Jacoby Brissett and the Browns to log an encouraging win.
Evan McPherson is still that dude. The kicker was a perfect three-for-three on field goal tries as Cincy’s red-zone offense stalled against the Rams. His star is still rising on the special teams scene.
The offense could have major hiccups. Not just because Deshaun Watson is suspended, but because Jacoby Brissett has yet to take any live game reps with the full first-team lineup. His debut, their preseason finale, was spotty.
Dan Quinn seemingly still has his touch. Despite big names resting, Dallas’ “D” piled up the big plays against the Seahawks, totaling five takeaways to secure a close game.
They are built to run. This was already apparent based on their personnel up front, in the backfield and out wide, but it was confirmed against the Vikings, with Mike Boone running wild on limited carries to headline their attack.
Dan Campbell may have a defense. Or at least a semblance of one, compared to last year. The starting unit kept the Steelers out of the end zone early Sunday, despite some nice throws from Mitch Trubisky.
Tyler Goodson deserves touches. If Matt LaFleur is prepared to lean more on the ground game post-Davante Adams, the undrafted rookie could fit in as the No. 3 behind Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon after a shifty night against the Chiefs.
Dameon Pierce is primed to be RB1. If not now, then soon. The Florida product wasn’t the only ball-carrier to gain yards against the 49ers, but he’s been the team’s most consistent chain-mover at the position.
Sam Ehlinger is safe. Undrafted rookie Jack Coan had a precise late-game throw in Week 2 of the preseason, but Ehlinger led a pair of scoring drives against the Buccaneers, and showed off his legs, to secure the No. 3 QB job.
They have tough decisions at receiver. Seriously. Tim Jones went off with over 100 yards in the finale, but late-2021 Trevor Lawrence favorite Laquon Treadwell also scored. Laviska Shenault Jr. is also on the brink. Someone’s gotta go.
They’ve got underrated weapons. Tyreek Hill’s departure will be the big story all year, but tight end Matt Bushman emerged against the Packers, and rookie receiver Skyy Moore also showed his speed and vision on special teams.
Patrick Graham has tape to build on. His defense, despite resting most regulars, stifled the Patriots’ starting offense out of the gate, throwing Mac Jones off his mark and helping Las Vegas to an easy win.
Joshua Kelley is ready. To handle RB2 duties behind/alongside Austin Ekeler, that is. The veteran reserve translated a solid summer to a productive day against the Saints, even though the offense managed just 10 points.
Lance McCutcheon is likely a lock. The Montana State product was again the team’s top receiver against the Bengals, and general manager Les Snead has since all but confirmed the rookie will make the final roster.
Tyreek Hill is their focal point. Mike McDaniel made it a point to involve the speedster early against the Eagles, having Tua Tagovailoa unload a deep shot on the first play and then connect with the wideout again on the same drive.
It’s K.J. Osborn’s time. The third-year wideout was already due for a bigger role in Kevin O’Connell’s offense, but with reserve Bisi Johnson now sidelined with another ACL tear, he’s even more important at the position.
Their staffing choices could doom Mac Jones. Hyperbole? Maybe not, considering Jones was visibly and rightfully frustrated by their dud of an outing against Raiders backups, with Bill Belichick still letting old, non-offensive assistants run the show.
The O-line is now a concern. Replacing Terron Armstead at left tackle was gonna be hard enough. Now, rookie Trevor Penning, the handpicked successor, is out indefinitely after requiring surgery for a foot injury.
Kenny Golladay is on thin ice. Maybe not in terms of his roster spot because of his contract, but at least on the depth chart. He played 14 snaps against the Jets despite other starters sitting, and coach Brian Daboll didn’t guarantee his job afterward.
Denzel Mims might have trade value. The former second-rounder went off days after requesting a relocation, topping 100 yards on seven catches and also getting in the end zone with a diving score against the Giants.
They’ll probably keep just two QBs. Youngster Reid Sinnett had a promising Week 2 showing but fell off against the Dolphins, leaving Gardner Minshew as the likely sole backup to Jalen Hurts entering the new year.
They’ve got a close call to make at QB. Both Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett have made the most of their preseason opportunities, flashing nice touch behind an iffy line. Do the Steelers prefer experience or upside?
Trey Lance will have growing pains. Not that that’s unexpected. But the new starting QB failed to get San Francisco on the board before heading to the sidelines against the Texans, which has San Francisco fans antsy for real action.
DeeJay Dallas has his work cut out for him. With Chris Carson retired and Kenneth Walker banged up, the veteran backup is poised to see a big rise in touches as the healthiest ball-carrier on Pete Carroll’s run-heavy offense.
Tom Brady is just fine. Each of TB12’s seasons in Tampa Bay, he’s hit full stride well into the year, when it counts. In limited action against the Colts, he connected with Julio Jones and looked perfectly comfortable back on the field.
Treylon Burks is still somewhat of a mystery. And yes, his rookie year hasn’t even started yet, but his Cardinals showing was the full package: an early injury, a promising touchdown, and more questions about his availability for 2022.
Sam Howell has the grit to steal a job. Probably apparent for a while, but like Taylor Heinicke, he plays with a fire. The rookie wasn’t perfect against the Ravens, but he muscled his way out of a few losses and turned them into big gains.