What we learned: Mega-edition from Saturday night

With nine games on Saturday night, this is going to be the biggest “What we learned” recap of the preseason. So let’s get to it.

Bills 35, Jaguars 32

1. Jaguars quarterback David Garrard didn’t have a great preseason, but rookie Blaine Gabbert didn’t do anything to put Garrard’s job in jeopardy.  For now.

2. Buffalo’s starters outplayed Jacksonville’s starters. Ryan Fitzpatrick was very sharp (11-for-12, 165 yards and two scores) while racking up 17 first half points.

3. Bills running back Fred Jackson started and showed why he should remain the starter for Week One.  We’d be shocked if C.J. Spiller played more than Jackson early in the year.

4. With Donald Jones out, Bills receiver Marcus Easley made a strong big for significant playing time.

Steelers 34, Falcons 16

1. Matt Ryan threw 42 passes in the first half, although he wasn’t overly efficient.

2. Pittsburgh’s starters could not be stopped, but injuries to quarterback Byron Leftwich and center Maurkice Pouncey overshadowed things.  Leftwich could miss the season with a broken left arm.

3. Emmanuel Sanders remains out, which has given Steelers receiver Antonio Brown a chance to shine.

Lions 34, Patriots 10

1. Detroit’s defensive front absolutely mauled New England, forcing Tom Brady to make some ugly throws.

2. Matthew Stafford wins our preseason MVP award after a virtually flawless performance. He can make any throw.

3. Patriots receiver Wes Welker says he’s “OK” after leaving with a neck injury. The Patriots lost guard Dan Connolly in the game.

 

Bucs 17, Dolphins 13

1. There was a lot more good than bad from Chad Henne in his second straight solid performance.

2. Brandon Marshall is starting to look like he did in Denver. He made a couple great moves after the catch on long plays Saturday night. One resulted in a long score. The other resulted in a fumble.

3. Josh Freeman and the Bucs offense have quietly looked sluggish this month. The backup running back situation isn’t pretty.

4. Kellen Winslow left with an ankle injury.

5. Reggie Bush finished with -1 yard on five carries. He had 23 yards receiving. Rookie Daniel Thomas, who hasn’t looked great in camp, continued to struggle.

Cowboys 23, Vikings 17

1. The Cowboys held out center Andre Gurode, a precursor to a possible trade or release.

2. Dallas’ first-team defense continued to struggle.  They have given up 30 points in nine preseason possessions.

3. On the flip side, Donovan McNabb’s deep score to Bernard Berrian was another positive sign for Minnesota’s steadily improving starting offense.

4. Dez Bryant has enjoyed a quiet camp off the field, and he made noise on the field with five catches and 67 yards.

Texans 30, 49ers 7

1. Arian Foster aggravated his hamstring injury, but the Texans are remaining positive.

2. The only points San Francisco scored came on a turnover.  The offense, playing without Frank Gore Saturday, has endured an abysmal preseason. Alex Smith remains the starting quarterback.

3. Even if Foster is limited early in the year, the Texans are in good shape. Second-year pro Ben Tate has been a revelation the last two weeks.

Titans 14, Bears 13

1. Chris Johnson got a little more leverage when Tennessee’s first-team offense struggled. Chicago has 16 first downs to only 7 for the Titans in the first half.

2. Chicago lost tight end Desmond Clark and running back Marion Barber to injuries.

3. Johnny Knox outplayed Roy Williams once again.  Chicago’s starters on offense looked sharp for the most part.

4. It appears Chester Taylor is on his way out of town unless Barber’s injury is serious.

Broncos 23, Seahawks 20

1. Kyle Orton looked terrific, while Tim Tebow had a mixed day while taking all the second team offense snaps.  It remains unclear if Tebow or Brady Quinn will be the backup.

2. The Seahawks quarterback competition doesn’t seem to be a competition at all. Tarvaris Jackson played into the fourth quarter, struggling again.  Seattle’s offensive line has looked awful in the preseason.

3. Von Miller continues to look like the real deal.  Combining him with Elvis Dumervil makes the Broncos defense a lot more dangerous.

Chargers 34, Cardinals 31

1. Arizona’s offense looked rather explosive. They enjoyed an 80-yard touchdown by Larry Fitzgerald, a 34-yard score by Andre Roberts (running), and Beanie Wells had a nice night.

2. Cardinals first-round pick Patrick Peterson was picked on by Philip Rivers, but only after Peterson recorded a pick six.

3. Peterson will need to step up because starter Greg Toler left with a potentially serious knee injury.

4. San Diego’s starting defense had a poor night, but first round pick Corey Liuget is living up to his name.