By Ross Jones, FOXSports.com
Well, the third week of the preseason is in the books. In less than a week, all 32 teams will have to trim their rosters down to the 53. A majority of the starters you see on Sundays won’t get any action next week as players on the bubble will be putting it all on the line to make the team. Sunday’s slate of two games had plenty of action, so let’s get right into it:
Can Matt Schaub be this year’s Joe Flacco?
Before Joe Flacco went on a legendary playoff run and hoisted the Super Bowl XLVII trophy, the Ravens quarterback was criticized. People didn’t refer to him as an “elite” quarterback and thought he was someone who just couldn’t get the job done. Well, Flacco shut his naysayers up as he put the team on his back and led it to a championship.
Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is in the same category. Schaub is recognized as a good, not great quarterback and lacks the clutch gene.
Although that may be the case, Schaub looked like someone who can take charge of an offense and march his team into the opponent’s end zone on Sunday. With 1:13 remaining in the first half, Schaub orchestrated a 10-play, 77-yard drive that led to a Randy Bullock field goal before expiration. Matt Schaub, ladies and gentleman. One more thing: Don’t sleep on Andre Johnson. The 11-year veteran is coming off one of the most productive seasons of his career and looked great against the Saints.
Christian Ponder wasn’t bad, but he sure wasn’t good
Let’s face it, the Vikings offense is built around running back Adrian Peterson. The man ran for more than 2,000 yards in 2012 and has lofty goals of exceeding the 2,500-yard mark this year. While Peterson didn’t play against the Niners Sunday, Ponder assumed the responsibility of moving the team down the field. And it wasn’t pretty.
He turned the ball over twice, including an interception that can be argued if he was to blame. But for the most part, Ponder looked like himself. He didn’t wow anyone and admitted to NBC’s sideline reporter Michele Tafoya that the offense has “a lot of room for improvement.”
He did, however, show his ability to move the chains in the third quarter, piloting a scoring drive. Ponder dinked and dunked the Vikings down the field and hooked up with former quarterback Joe Webb for a 12-yard TD. You remember him, right?
The Texans have two No. 1 running backs
While Arian Foster hangs out on the sideline, Ben Tate has been showing off his ability to be a mainstay running back behind a first-team offensive line this preseason. Tate, who is a free agent in 2014, carried the load for the Texans in the early going by racking up 74 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. That’s 6.7 yards a carry. And that’s called getting it done. Tate, 24, could be a franchise running back before you know it.
Colin Kaepernick is waiting for receiver to emerge
The 49ers finally cut ties with former first-round pick on A.J. Jenkins last week by shipping him to Kansas City. Rookie Quinton Patton has been with the team for a little over three months, and he has already done more than Jenkins did in two seasons.
Ever since Michael Crabtree went down with a torn Achilles, the 49ers have been waiting for someone to step up and assume the role. Patton is very raw, but runs clean routes and looks very comfortable in the Niners’ offense.
Then, this happened.
(h/t SB Nation)
That’s Lavelle Hawkins. Hawkins is a longshot to make the team and after his act on Sunday, his chances got slimmer. Wondering what happened? The fourth-year veteran returned a kick for a touchdown, but it was called back because he was taunting the Vikings. Hawkins couldn’t escape a Jim Harbaugh lashing on the sideline and ended up not learning his lesson as he was flagged later in the game for spiking the ball after a reception. Oh, boy.
Who the hell is Andy Tanner?
Yeah, I was wondering the same thing on Sunday, too. Tanner, who went undrafted out of Midwestern State (it’s in Wichita Falls, Tex.) in 2010, has bounced around the league on practice squads. In all, Tanner has been signed, waived, released and re-signed 33 times in his short career.
Well, this could be the year that Tanner finds himself a job.
Tanner hauled in two touchdowns against the Texans and even caught the attention of Sean Payton as the head coach mentioned him in the postgame news conference. Oh yeah, Drew Brees even had some nice things to say:
These are the fun stories that don’t get the recognition they deserve this time of year.