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Friday preseason roundup: Adrian Peterson, Sam Darnold and a bizzare Packers injury

August 26, 2018

There were no earth-shattering stories that came out of Friday’s preseason games, but a few interesting ones. Here’s a look around at a few of the developments.

Did Adrian Peterson show enough?

The 33-year-old Peterson made a good first impression in Washington, rushing 11 times for 56 yards, including an impressive 15-yarder, in his Washington debut against the Denver Broncos.

And was that a ... jump cut? Peterson might have molded into a power gap runner the past few years, but Friday looked a bit different. He made a 2012-ish hop outside, faking out Broncos LB Todd Davis, and just gave a little glimpse of the old Peterson.

That was a 13-yard gain. The 15-yarder came on 4th-and-1. Peterson started and took the game’s first play for a nice 7-yard push. On Washington’s second series, he had seven workmanlike carries. Vernon Davis, even older than Peterson at 34, sprang the 15-yard run on that drive with a key block.

Which Gruden likes his older guys?

Interestingly, he was wearing No. 26, Clinton Portis’ old number. Peterson has always worn 28 previously, and that number is not taken by another player currently.

Peterson gets a B-plus for his effort Friday. Absolutely showed something. But will it be enough? Peterson hasn’t been in town long, and it will be interesting to see just how much work Jay Gruden will give him in the final preseason game.

But it’s entirely possible that he’s their best early-down back. Samaje Perine has been banged up, coming off a tough rookie season. Rob Kelley has been quiet; he had four carries longer than 9 yards on his 62 runs.

Sam Darnold: New York Jets’ Week 1 starter?

Darnold didn’t appear to lose the Jets’ starting quarterback job. That’s assuming, of course, that it was his to lose. Everything Todd Bowles has done the past week-plus has indicated that’s the situation, even if — arguably — Teddy Bridgewater has been even more impressive. Josh McCown has the look of the well-paid clipboard guy, if he sticks around.

On Friday, Darnold was good but hardly great. The stats were pretty meh: He completed 8-of-16 passes for 86 yards in the Jets’ 22-16 loss to the Giants.

But it was easy to see some of the good: Darnold led two touchdown drives against the Giants’ first-team defense and displayed the kind of poise you don’t see in players his age ... or the kind lacking in Jets QBs more often than not for a decade.

That Darnold was that effective with a shaky lineup around him and some bad starting field position (seven of eight drives starting inside the Jets’ 25) counts for something. He even converted a 3rd-and-13 play for a scrambling first down.

Bridgewater was fine, but he was the inverse of Darnold on this night, in a sense: His more impressive stats (11-of-15 passing, 104 yards) were marred by two sacks taken and a nearly disastrous dropped INT deep in the red zone. A quality corner might have taken that pass 90-plus yards for a score.

So the gut here is that Darnold will be the Jets’ starter at Detroit in Week 1, which would make the 21-year-old the youngest opening-game starting quarterback in NFL history. And it would start the clock on the impressive Darnold, even if he has things to clean up such as a few wildly off-target throws against the Giants.

Bizarre Packers pregame injury

The Green Bay Packers sent out a shell cast on Friday night in the game against the Oakland Raiders. Eighteen players sat out with injury, including a few you know: Aaron Rodgers, Jimmy Graham, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Nick Perry, Mike Daniels and three starting offensive linemen.

But there was another interesting inactive — third-round linebacker Oren Burks, who has been an eye-opener in camp. The talk about him entering the defensive rotation has been buzzing the past few weeks.

Burks sat out with a shoulder injury. However, it’s one he did not have before getting on the team plane. Get this: Burks reportedly suffered a dislocated shoulder ... in pregame warmups? So odd.

We’ve heard of guys tweaking hamstrings or calves or aggravating knees or ankles while warming up. That’s not rare. But a dislocated shoulder?! This one we need more info on. And if it’s as serious as it sounds, it’s a blow to the Packers two weeks before the opener.

The greatest punter in NFL history

Clearly, it’s Michael Dickson, the rookie for the Seattle Seahawks. Move over, Ray Guy. There’s a new king.

OK, perhaps it’s a wee bit too soon to elevate Dickson, a fifth-rounder out of Texas, to that mantle just yet. But this man is a weapon. He’s netting more than 50 yards a punt on 10 kicks and showing a wild, magnetic knack for dropping the ball deep in opponents’ zones.

For a Seahawks offense that could be scuffling a bit more than we’ve been used to, Dickson could really bail them out and also give this young defense a chance to take more risks and go for big plays. Dickson also has done a good job holding on extra-point tries so far.

Remember the buzz there was a few generations ago when Darren Bennett entered the NFL in the mid-1990s with the Chargers? Dickson is going to blow his Aussie forefather out of the water. More seriously, this is one of the most gifted legs to enter the league in a few years. He’s truly special. The Seahawks likely got a steal with the 149th pick in the draft, and yes, this is still a punter we’re talking about.

The power, the control, the insane hang time ... Dickson has it all and could be All Pro as a rookie. Write that one down.

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