Wednesday, July 17, 2024

2022 NFL preseason Week 3 rookie QB roundup: Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis stand out in final preseason games

Rookie quarterbacks have been the talk of the 2022 preseason. One quarterback has made a legitimate argument to his team’s starting quarterback (more on that in a second), while several other rookie passers have made their own marks during their first games in an NFL uniform. Each one either helped or hurt their collective cause during the final week of the preseason, as NFL teams prepare to release their 53-man rosters for the official start of the regular season. 

Here’s a rundown of how each rookie quarterback fared during the final week of the preseason. One quarterback you won’t read about below is Panthers rookie Matt Corral, who sustained a serious foot injury a week ago. The injury will likely keep Corral out for the remainder of the season. 

Kenny Pickett, Steelers 

Pickett didn’t enter the game until the second half, after Mitchell Trubisky gave the Steelers a 16-0 lead on his touchdown pass to Steven Sims just before halftime. Pickett played almost the entire second half after Trubisky went 15 of 19 for 160 yards in the first half while playing with the first-team offense. Pickett again looked sharp while running the second-team offense. He went 10 of 14 for 90 yards while directing a 12-play scoring drive. He also engineered a 10-play drive that ended with a blocked field goal attempt. Pickett’s best completion was a 29-yarder to Miles Boykin on the near sideline. 

As good as he played this preseason, Pickett will likely spend Week 1 holding a clipboard, which is how the Steelers’ last quarterback who was taken in the first round, Ben Roethlisberger, started his NFL career. But what Pickett has done has shown the Steelers’ staff that he is ready to enter the fray if called upon to do so. 

Malik Willis, Titans 

Willis improved his accuracy in his preseason finale, going 15 of 23 for 131 yards against the Cardinals. He threw one touchdown and one interception while leading the Titans on four scoring drives. Willis’ biggest play was a 50-yard jaunt that set up Tennessee’s second touchdown. Sacks, however, continue to be an issue for Willis and the Titans, as he was sacked four times on Saturday, a week after being taken down three times against the Buccaneers

Desmond Ridder, Falcons

While he threw two passes to the other team, Ridder was otherwise solid in his preseason finale. He went 14 of 21 for 185 yards against the Jaguars that included a first quarter touchdown pass to Tyler Allgeier. One of Ridder’s most impressive passes of the day was a 21-yard completion to Cameron Batson on a third-and-10 play that helped set up the Falcons’ final touchdown. 

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Sam Howell, Commanders 

Despite a strong outing, Howell wasn’t able to snap the Ravens‘ historic preseason winning streak, which now stands at 23 games. Howell played significantly better than he did the previous week, going 24 of 35 for 280 yards that included a fourth quarter touchdown pass to Reggie Bonnafon. He also took care of the ball after throwing a critical interception the previous week against the Chiefs

Bailey Zappe, Patriots 

Zappe played the entire second half against the Raiders while engineering the Patriots’ second of two scoring drives. He went 10 of 14 for 84 yards that included a 15-yard gain to Tre Nixon on New England’s second scoring drive. Zappe did commit a costly turnover for a second straight week, however, as his deep pass late in the fourth quarter was intercepted while leading to a Las Vegas touchdown. 

Brock Purdy, 49ers 

Purdy was the most effective of the 49ers’ quarterbacks against Houston, albeit against mostly third-string defenders. He went 13 of 20 for 182 yards while playing most of the second half. Purdy ended the game with a 15-play drive that ended with a sack on second-and-goal on the game’s final play. He finished the preseason with a 61.2 completion percentage with one touchdown and one interception. 

Dustin Crum, Chiefs 

Crum completed his only throw — and 11-yard gain to Tayon Fleet-Davis — against the Packers in the Chiefs’ preseason finale. Crum threw three passes without an incompletion in Kansas City’s second preseason game against the Commanders. He went 6 of 11 for 18 yards in the Chiefs’ preseason opener against Chicago. He will likely be left off the Chiefs’ 53-man roster, but Crum may have done enough during the preseason to either earn a spot on the Chiefs’ or another team’s practice squad. 

Jack Coan, Colts 

The former Notre Dame quarterback went 2 of 3 against the Buccaneers in his preseason finale. He went 7 of 11 for 83 yards and a touchdown in the Colts’ second preseason game against the Lions and was 1 of 5 in his preseason debut against Buffalo. Coan, who is currently behind Matt Ryan and Nick Foles on the depth chart, will make the Colts’ 53-man roster if the Colts decide to carry three quarterbacks. 

Skylar Thompson, Dolphins 

Thompson capped off his impressive preseason with another strong outing against the Eagles. Playing the entire second half, Thompson threw three touchdown passes that included a 39-yard strike to Lynn Bowden Jr. While he faces stiff competition (Tua Tagovailoa and veteran Teddy Bridgewater are ahead of him on the depth chart), Thompson’s preseason should have done enough to earn him a spot on someone’s 53-man roster, whether that’s in Miami or somewhere else. 

Carson Strong, Eagles 

Strong didn’t get much work during the preseason. He threw one pass in the Eagles’ second preseason game and was 1 of 3 for six yards against the Dolphins in the Eagles’ preseason finale. Strong’s best bet to stay in Philadelphia is on its practice squad, with Gardner Minshew and Reid Sinnett ahead of him on the depth chart. 

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