Tuesday 20 February 2018 / 02:58 AM

NFL – what we learned in preseason week 2

Two weeks down and two to go – football season is knocking on the door.

Here’s the down low on everything worth knowing from week two of the NFL preseason.

The bitter sting of the injury bug

Few teams are ever able to escape four weeks of practice games without the loss of at least one key player to injury. It’s just the nature of the beast when playing one of the most violent sports on the planet.

But some injuries are more painful than others.

On the opening drive of Green Bay’s Sunday match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Aaron Rodgers lost his top target for the season when Jordy Nelson tore his ACL.

The team will now lean on promising second-year wideout Davante Adams to step up his game and fill the void.

While it’s hard to imagine the best quarterback in the game struggling too hard to find targets, Rodgers and Nelson shared a special chemistry perhaps unmatched across the entire league.

I don’t expect the Packers to miss too much of a beat as the season gets underway but there’s no doubt #12 will miss his go-to guy in crucial game situations. After the game Rodgers bemoaned the damage: “It’s difficult to lose a guy like that in a meaningless game.”

Nelson was the second top-tier WR to bid a not-so-fond farewell for the season as the Panthers lost their star receiver Kelvin Benjamin for the year just four days prior.

Shit happens, but replacing a legitimate #1 receiver is easier said than done.

Number One pick ready to take the reins?

Jameis Winston sent ripples of hope across central Florida Monday night after he capped a nearly flawless 80-yard opening drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

The 25-11 victory for Tampa Bay over Cincinnati means absolutely nothing and preseason wins often, if not usually, translate into regular season disappointment – but Buccaneers fans do have reason to believe that their cellar-dwelling days may soon be over.

More good news out of Tampa: Doug Martin rushed for 59 yards on just 6 carries.

I remember when he was a rookie phenomenon. I also remember when he was a first-round dud for my fantasy football team.

If the former Doug Martin shows up in 2015 it could be a game-changer in the NFC South.

Disclaimer: Take special note of the usage of “may” and “could” in this section.

Brian Hoyer officially given second shot as a starting quarterback

The Texans have a starting quarterback – sort of.

With Ryan Mallett failing to sufficiently impress Houston coach Bill O’Brien, the 29-year-old Brian Hoyer was officially named the starting quarterback.

Sure. The ex-Brown showed flashes of brilliance in Cleveland, but I can’t help but think we’re looking at Ryan Fitzpatrick Part 2 this season for the Texans.

But you never know, sometimes a change of scenery is all a quarterback needs to thrive. Hoyer would love to steer his career in a Kerry Collins-esque direction: a late-bloomer with legitimate playoff caliber play.

Cooks a breakout candidate?

Four catches, 117 yards, 45-yard touchdown.

Practice game or not, Brandin Cooks looks like he’ll be Drew Brees’ new favorite target in the absence of Jimmy Graham.

When Cooks went down with an injury last season, he was leading all rookie receivers at the time. This is a kid you want on your fantasy team. He is going to be a star.

Brutal – RGIII takes a pounding

One word to describe Robert Griffin the Third’s comeback attempt thus far: sacked.

Eagles are ready

Philadelphia has an overflow of QBs and RBs on the roster but they sure looked good in their 40-17 rout of the Ravens on Sunday.

All phases of the offense were clicking as Baltimore didn’t have an answer for anything Chip Kelly threw at them.

John Harbaugh’s not worried though…he assured fans that had this been a regular season game they would have prepared properly.

And on that note, let’s cross our fingers for an injury free Week 3.

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Michael Airhart

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