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- Friday NFL Rebound - Koenen Kicks

Chris Pokorny August 12, 2006
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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On Friday night, there were five preseason games. The New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons game received the most attention since it was on national television, and that game delivered without a doubt. It was as exciting as you could get for a preseason game, due to exciting play by backup quarterbacks on both teams. When you think of the Falcons, you may think of a bad quarterback system due to Vick's inability to throw the ball. Looking at their second-, third-, and fourth-string quarterbacks though, you'd see that this is one of the deepest teams in football at this position.

Matt Schaub is already one of the highly coveted backups in the league, and many teams feel he deserves a shot at starting in the league. His skills are fairly polished, and he is a better passer than Vick. He threw a touchdown and led a couple of nice drives, but made a mistake on a heave pass to the corner of the end zone for his lone interception. After Schaub was out of the game, Bryan Randall of Virgina Tech turned into Vick for one play, scrambling and evading defenders for a 29-yard gain. A little bit later, he threw a touchdown to third-round running back Jerious Norwood, although Norwood did most of the work. Finally, rookie quarterback D.J. Shockley entered the game and orchestrated a game-winning drive. On the other side of the ball, Matt Cassell didn't do a bad job either as the only quarterback besides Tom Brady to see some action.

The biggest story of the game was Atlanta's young punter, Michael Koenen, who looks like he can and should perform triple duty. He was 4-of-4 on field goals from extended distance, and that's not something that's easy to do in the league. This is also another aspect I don't understand why more teams don't do - I'd have to imagine more kickers or punters in the league can do both jobs just as well, saving a team an extra roster spot.

For the Baltimore Ravens, Steve McNair hopes to be the savior for the team's offense, and he got the job done in his first test. He engineered a successful drive with key passes to Todd Heap, and then ran the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. That, mixed in with successful runs from Jamal Lewis and Musa Smith, gave the Ravens some positive hope on offense this year. Meanwhile, the Giants decided to rest Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey, leaving the most important components of their offense off the field. They rallied against the Ravens' third- and fourth-stringers to get the win. One more thing: remember Brandon Jacobs in fantasy drafts, as he could continue being like "the Bus" by scoring touchdowns from the goal line.

Detroit fans have to enjoy what they saw in their first preseason game - solid execution at quarterback. Jon Kitna, Josh McCown, and Dan Orlovsky all led scoring drives as the running game did well against the Broncos' defense. The Broncos thrived under rookie quarterback Jay Cutler, who had the best quarterback performance a backup can have in the preseason. It's a shame he may have to wait a few years before he actually becomes the team's franchise quarterback. No one really had a clear advantage in the running game competition, but rookie Mike Bell did fumble once, which is common for rookies. The Lions' three No. 1 pick wide receivers all made a catch at least.

In Chicago, the Bears should seriously consider Brian Griese as their starting quarterback. Their defense is already good enough to go deep in the postseason, but their offense lacks a consistent threat. Kyle Orton could only manage so much last year, and Rex Grossman wasn't much better. Griese has shown that he could turn around a similar lackluster offense in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and could do the same with the Bears. For the 49ers, Alex Smith and Frank Gore appeared to be on top of their games, but let's remember that Smith stills needs a lot of playing time to perform at the same level during the regular season. Antonio Bryant did well with a young quarterback like Charlie Frye last year, and Trent Dilfer can give some pointers on how to throw the ball to the former Browns' receiver.

Meanwhile, despite the Jets only recording three points, all signs are pointing that Chad Pennington will be the team's starting quarterback. He didn't light it up, but he showed signs of the player he was before his shoulder problems a few years ago. Kellen Clemons did well in relief, while Brooks Bollinger did not get into the game. Chris Simms and Tim Rattay didn't see a lot of time for the Buccaneers, so rookie Bruce Gradkowski made the most of his opportunity by throwing the game's only touchdowns. The Jets struggled to get their running game going, and are still wondering if Curtis Martin will be able to return at some point.

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