Friday, August 10, 2018

Darnold shines, Bridgewater sharp as Jets top Falcons 17-0

Sam Darnold sparkled in his NFL debut, Teddy Bridgewater looked sharp and healthy, and the New York Jets earned the franchise's first preseason home shutout by beating the sluggish Atlanta Falcons 17-0 on Friday night.
Darnold, the No. 3 overall draft pick in April, was the Jets' third quarterback of the game, following Josh McCown and Bridgewater. The former USC star was greeted by loud cheers and a standing ovation as he jogged onto the field at MetLife Stadium with 8:41 to go in the first half.
Darnold's first series ended in a punt and his non-throwing left hand was checked out by trainers on the sideline after it was stepped on. But he was fine and wore a glove in the second half.
He got the crowd on its feet again just before halftime, throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Charles Johnson that gave New York a 17-0 lead.
The 21-year-old Darnold showed the poise of a veteran on the drive while completing six straight passes to get to the Falcons 3. He would've had a seventh consecutive completion, but his throw into the end zone was dropped by Johnson. Darnold went right back to Johnson on the next play, and the receiver caught a 3-yard pass for a TD - but was called for offensive pass interference.
On third-and-14, Darnold again threw to Johnson while rolling to his right and zipping in a pass for the score.
Darnold, who finished 13 of 18 for 96 yards, missed the first three days of training camp before his representatives and the Jets agreed on a fully guaranteed four-year, $30.25 million deal that included a $20 million signing bonus. He quickly made up for the missed time, and is being given every opportunity to win the starting job.
McCown is the incumbent and started the game, but played just one series - as he did last summer when New York wanted extended looks at Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. The 39-year-old veteran completed his only throw, a 4-yard toss to Neal Sterling.
TEDDY'S NIGHT
Bridgewater came out with the starting offense for the Jets' second possession and led New York down the field on a scoring drive, capped by Isaiah Crowell's 16-yard catch-and-run to the end zone.
Crowell, in his first game with the Jets after four seasons in Cleveland, was evaluated for a head injury after taking a few hard hits on the play. He didn't return.
Bridgewater, who suffered a serious knee injury in practice while with Minnesota nearly two years ago, converted a third-and-11 with an 8-yard pass to Robby Anderson - while also taking a hard hit from Takk McKinley and bouncing back up. On fourth-and-3 from the Falcons 40, Bridgewater connected with Jermaine Kearse for a 6-yard gain and a first down to keep the drive alive.
Playing with the backup offensive line on his second series, Bridgewater led New York on another scoring drive capped by Taylor Bertolet's 45-yard field goal.
Bridgewater finished 7 of 8 for 85 yards and the TD.
SHORT STINT
Matt Ryan played the first series for the Falcons, and completed his only attempt to rookie Calvin Ridley for a 2-yard loss.
He was replaced by veteran Matt Schaub, who went 9 of 9 for 54 yards while playing the rest of the first half.
SLUGGISH
Atlanta got its initial first down of the game with 10 seconds left in the first half on Schaub's 10-yard pass to Eric Saubert. The Falcons finished with 11 first downs. New York, which had 12 in the first half, ended up with 15.
NATIONAL ANTHEM
Players from both teams stood during the anthem, with no demonstrations. The Jets linked arms on the sideline, including owner Christopher Johnson, as they did last season.
SITTING OUT
Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman did not play, despite being healthy. Kicker Matt Bryant and offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo had previously been scratched by coach Dan Quinn.
Several Jets didn't play, including rookie tight end Chris Herndon, who wasn't spotted on the sideline during the game. Also out because of injuries were: left tackle Kelvin Beachum, linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, defensive tackle Deon Simon, rookie cornerback Parry Nickerson, and running back Eli McGuire.
STILL NOTHING
Atlanta tried to stop the shutout in the closing seconds, but David Marvin was short on a 42-yard field-goal attempt as time expired.
HEADS UP
There were three penalties called under the new rule prohibiting players from leading with their helmets, including two in a three-play span. Jets cornerback Buster Skrine was called on a kickoff return by running back Ito Smith, who was penalized for lowering heads moments later while blocking on a second-down play.
The third infraction was on Atlanta safety Damontae Kazee late in the second quarter.
INJURIES
Sterling left in the third quarter with an ankle injury and didn't return. ... Skrine left the game after injuring his shoulder during the play on which he was penalized. ... Falcons backup guard Jamil Douglas left with a finger injury.
NEXT UP
Falcons: home vs. Kansas City on Aug. 17.
Jets: at Washington on Aug. 16.

Three questions facing Dallas Stars

1. Will Jim Montgomery help develop younger players?
The Stars hired Montgomery as coach May 4, three weeks after Ken Hitchcock retired. Montgomery, who coached at the University of Denver for the past five seasons, winning the NCAA Division I championship in 2017, will be tasked with helping develop young players. 
Defensemen Miro Heiskanen, 19, and Julius Honka, 22, and forwards Roope Hintz, 21, Denis Gurianov, 21, and Radek Faksa, 24, are among them.
"It's really important that [John Klingberg], [Marc] Methot, and [Esa] Lindell be the leaders of our D corps and that they take these guys under their wing and bring them along and teach them how to manage the game," Montgomery told The Athletic in July. "We've got to do that as coaches, but they have to [as players] and the good thing talking to those three [is], I think they're ready for it."
2. Have they added enough secondary scoring?
Forwards Tyler Seguin (40 goals), Jamie Benn (36 goals) and Alexander Radulov (27 goals) accounted for 44.5 percent of the Stars' goals (103 of 231) last season, including 63.8 percent of their power-play goals (30 of 47).
Dallas added forwards Blake Comeau and Valeri Nichushkin this offseason to add scoring depth. Comeau had 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) with the Colorado Avalanche last season, and Nichushkin had 27 points (16 goals, 11 assists) in the Kontinental Hockey League last season and 64 points (23 goals, 41 assists) in 166 games with the Stars from 2013-16.  
"Dallas has an outstanding No. 1 line with Benn, Seguin, and Radulov, some great pieces on the back end as well and a great goaltender," Comeau told the Stars website after he signed as a free agent July 1. "So if I am able to add some depth to their lineup and create some secondary scoring that will take some of the burden off the top line, I think all the teams in the NHL that are successful have a lot of depth and contributions from different guys."
3. Will Ben Bishop's health be a concern?
Bishop, who signed a six-year contract with the Stars on May 12, 2017, missed 13 of the final 15 games last season with a lower-body injury. The goaltender has a history of injuries but has performed well when healthy; the 31-year-old was 26-17-5 with a 2.49 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage and five shutouts in 53 games (51 starts) last season.
Dallas signed goalie Anton Khudobin to a two-year, $5 million contract July 1 to back up Bishop. The 32-year-old was 16-6-7 with a 2.56 GAA, a .913 save percentage and one shutout in 31 games (29 starts) with the Boston Bruins last season.
"He's a veteran who's been around the League a long time, done a great job in Boston the last couple of years, and we think he is going to be a great addition for our goaltending moving forward," Nill said.

Dallas Stars fantasy preview for 2018-19

Tyler Seguin, C/RW* (NHL.com rank: 13) -- The only player with more goals than Seguin (173) over the past five seasons is Alex Ovechkin (236), and the Stars forward could be poised for his best season yet for many reasons. The 26-year-old is entering a contract year (potential 2019 unrestricted free agent) and will be playing for new coach Jim Montgomery, who won the 2017 NCAA Division I championship at the University of Denver. Seguin ranks among the top 10 in the NHL in points (384), power-play points (132) and shots on goal (1,488) since joining the Stars in 2013-14, and has been extremely consistent with at least 72 points, 24 PPP and 278 SOG in each of those five seasons. It's fair game to reach for Seguin in the late first round of any fantasy draft.
Jamie Benn, C/LW (14) -- Seguin and Benn form one of the best sets of fantasy teammates, and each is ranked among NHL.com's top 15 overall once again. Benn is the third-ranked fantasy left wing behind Ovechkin and Brad Marchand, and finished 17th in Yahoo despite an inconsistent season. He had some production swings and played center and left wing under former coach Ken Hitchcock, but he was among the most valuable fantasy players from the beginning of December to the end of the regular season (58 points, plus-21 in final 57 games), including two hat tricks in the final week.
John Klingberg, D (50) -- He's coming off a breakout season, leading NHL defensemen in assists (59) and finishing one point behind John Carlson (68) for the scoring lead at the position. Klingberg, who turns 26 on Aug. 14, had NHL career highs in points (67), PPP (23) and SOG (204), is ranked among the top 50 fantasy assets by NHL.com (seventh among defensemen), and could have an even higher ceiling. Montgomery should help the development of younger defensemen Esa Lindell and Julius Honka, as well as defenseman prospect Miro Heiskanen, which would take pressure off Klingberg and improve Dallas' depth and Stanley Cup Playoff chances.
Alexander Radulov, RW (54) -- He had NHL career bests in goals (27), assists (45), points (72), PPP (23) and SOG (217) with frequent exposure to Seguin and Benn at even strength and on the first power-play unit. The 32-year-old remains a fringe top 50 overall asset, in the same range as fellow Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk (52nd by NHL.com) of the Los Angeles Kings. Radulov's elite fantasy status hinges on him playing with Benn and/or Seguin, but he could feasibly end up with veteran center Jason Spezza (potential 2019 UFA), who fell out of favor under Hitchcock last season.
Ben Bishop, G - INJ. (66) -- The 31-year-old goalie is Dallas' fifth player among NHL.com's fantasy top 75 and was shaping up to be a bargain last season prior to his season-ending lower-body injury in March. He went 26-17-5 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 53 games, and his five shutouts (T-4th in NHL) were the biggest reason he finished 70th overall in Yahoo. He is ranked 13th at his position by NHL.com and should have 30-35 wins if healthy for a full season behind a loaded offense in a fresh system.
Valeri Nichushkin, RW (187) -- The 23-year-old signed a two-year contract with the Stars after playing the past two seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League. His return should boost the secondary scoring of the most top-heavy fantasy team last season (four skaters with at least 67 points; no one else had more than 34). Nichushkin has underwhelming production in the NHL (64 points; 23 goals, 41 assists in 166 games) and KHL (51 points in 86 games over past two seasons), but projected top-six and power-play usage for the Stars instantly makes him a top 200 fantasy target with 20-goal, 50-point upside.
Other players with fantasy upside in late rounds or off waiver wire: Esa Lindell, D** (234); Jason Spezza, C/RW*; Miro Heiskanen, D; Mattias Janmark, LW**; Radek Faksa, C, Julius Honka, D**
*Potential 2019 unrestricted free agent
**Potential 2019 restricted free agent
INJ. -- Injury concern entering 2018-19

Top prospects for Dallas Stars

1. Miro Heiskanen, D
How acquired: Selected with No. 3 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
Last season: HIFK (Liiga): 30 GP, 11-12-23
The two-way defenseman, who turned 19 on July 18, played the past two seasons in the top professional league in Finland. In 2017-18, he more than doubled his point, goal and assist totals from 2016-17, when he had 10 points, five goals and five assists.
Heiskanen (6-foot, 170 pounds), who played for Finland at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and scored one goal in five games, likely will make his NHL debut this season on the second or third defense pair.
"He is such an elite skater, has breakaway speed, and his shiftiness is pretty elusive," Stars player development coordinator Rich Peverley said. "I saw him play in [Liiga] and the Continental Cup in Sweden, and Miro and [Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus] Dahlin were two of the best defensemen in that tournament, and that was a men's tournament. It shows the special talent that Miro has."
Projected NHL arrival: This season
2. Roope Hintz, F
How acquired: Selected with No. 49 pick in 2015 NHL Draft
Last season: Texas (AHL): 70 GP, 20-15-35
The 21-year-old finished second in goals for Texas in the American Hockey League as a rookie last season and had 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 22 playoff games to help it reach the Calder Cup Finals.
Hintz has a high hockey IQ and above-average speed for someone his size (6-3, 205). He can create chances for teammates and capitalize on scoring opportunities.
"Hintz is definitely a guy that took some major steps as the season went on and on," Peverley said. "He was outstanding in the playoffs, and he was a guy that I thought really transformed to the North American game pretty seamlessly."
Projected NHL arrival: This season
3. Ty Dellandrea, F
How acquired: Selected with No. 13 pick in 2018 NHL Draft
Last season: Flint (OHL): 67 GP, 27-32-59
The 18-year-old center is expected to play in the Ontario Hockey League this season after leading Flint in goals and power-play goals (10) in 2017-18, when he won 50.6 percent of his face-offs. Dellandrea (6-0, 185) has speed and is known for scoring big goals in big games.
"Hardworking, willing to do what it takes," Peverley said. "I got to meet him and watch him a bit. He's a great player, and you can obviously see the elevation in his game after Christmas this year. He just took another step. He looked like a man among boys. You can see that he is going to be a real, true good talent."
Projected NHL arrival: 2020-21 season
4. Jake Oettinger, G
How acquired: Selected with No. 26 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
Last season: Boston University (NCAA): 38 GP, 21-13-4, 2.45 GAA, .915 SV%
Oettinger (6-4, 212) helped BU win the Hockey East tournament last season. He was named to the all-tournament team and voted tournament MVP after making 138 saves on 146 shots (.945 save percentage) in four games, including a shutout in the championship game against Providence. The 19-year-old got better as the season went on, going 7-1-1 with a 1.70 GAA and .945 save percentage in his final nine games.
"For a guy going back to BU, I think he'll make the transition to pro very easily," Peverley said. "He's very level-headed, he is competitive, but he's a guy that I think is ready for the next step. If he continues on this path, he has an outstanding future in the NHL. ... He looks like the real deal."
Projected NHL arrival: 2020-21 season
5. Denis Gurianov, F
How acquired: Selected with No. 12 pick in 2015 NHL Draft
Last season: Texas (AHL): 74 GP, 19-15-34
Gurianov progressed in two AHL seasons and has the offensive talent to play in the NHL, but he must improve defensively.
The 21-year-old (6-3, 200) has played one NHL game (April 8, 2016) but could be a regular in the Stars lineup this season. Gurianov is a talented passer who makes the most of his chances; he scored 19 goals on 110 shots last season, a shooting percentage of 17.3.
"I think Denis still has some areas to work on in his game, but you can still see the high-end talent with him," Peverley said.
Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Dallas Stars key statistics

1. Regaining lost scoring
After leading the NHL with a total of 522 goals in 2014-15 and 2015-16, the Stars' offensive production dipped over the past two seasons to 453 total goals, which ranked 17th.
The Stars were top-heavy in production last season, with 296 of their 608 combined points, an NHL-high 48.7 percent, coming from defenseman John Klingberg and forwards Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov. But a comeback season from Jason Spezza could help balance out the scoring. The 35-year-old forward went from a previous NHL career average of 0.95 points per game and a 13.4 shooting percentage to 0.33 points per game and a 5.8 shooting percentage in 2017-18.
Adding more rookies to the lineup is another way to boost the scoring. In 2017-18, the Stars were the only team in the NHL not to receive a single point from a player 21 years old or under, but with players such as defenseman Miro Heiskanen, 19, and forward Roope Hintz, 21, projected to break into the lineup, that should change.
2. History of success
The Stars hired Jim Montgomery as coach May 4.
Montgomery was 118-45-21 and won the Clark Cup twice (2011, 2013) during three seasons with Dubuque of the United States Hockey League. He then guided the University of Denver to the NCAA Division I championship in 2017, when he won the Spencer Penrose Award as Division I men's hockey coach of the year.
Montgomery went 125-57-26 in five seasons at Denver.
3. Fewer goals-against
After allowing 260 goals in 2016-17, second most in the NHL, better than only the Colorado Avalanche (276), the Stars allowed 222 last season, tied with the St. Louis Blues for sixth fewest in the NHL.
One reason for that improvement was goalie Ben Bishop, who was acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings on May 9, 2017. In his first season in Dallas, the 31-year-old went 26-17-5 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .916 save percentage.
The Stars' 5-on-5 save percentage increased from .919 in 2016-17 (23rd in the NHL) to .927, which ranked 10th and was their highest since the statistic started being kept in 2009-10.
Despite improving by 13 points in the standings from 2016-17 to 2017-18, Dallas missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season. One step the Stars could take this season to get into the playoffs is improving their defense while on the power play. The Stars are the only NHL team to allow at least 10 shorthanded goals in each of the past three seasons, and they have allowed an NHL-high 36 in that span.

Inside look at Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars are hoping a new coach can get the most out of a young roster and turn their fortunes around.
Jim Montgomery, who was coach the past five seasons at the University of Denver, winning the NCAA Division I championship in 2017, was hired as coach May 4, three weeks after Ken Hitchcock retired.
Montgomery is the fourth coach to go directly from college to his first NHL job, joining Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol, who came from the University of North Dakota in 2015; Bob Johnson, who went to the Calgary Flames from the University of Wisconsin in 1982; and Ned Harkness, who took over the Detroit Red Wings in 1970 after coaching at Cornell University.
"For the last five years, we've had the fifth-youngest team in the NHL, and that's a stat people don't understand sometimes," Dallas general manager Jim Nill said when Montgomery was hired. "When I interviewed [Montgomery] here, I knew he'd been through that route. It's dealing with younger players, and on top of it winning, and he's done that."
Montgomery said the roster is already in place. It will be his job to make sure the Stars get results after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons.
"When I look at this lineup, I really get excited," Montgomery said. "It has everything you want. It has star power. [Forward Jamie] Benn, [center Tyler] Seguin; you have [forward Alexander] Radulov, you have [defenseman John] Klingberg, you have [goaltender Ben] Bishop. You have depth, you have skill, you have size, and you have speed at every position."
Dallas signed forward Valeri Nichushkin to a two-year contract July 1. The 23-year-old spent the past two seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League after playing three seasons with the Stars from 2013-16.
"He played in the NHL when he was 18 and was a very effective player," Nill said. "We're getting a better player back. He's excited about coming back. He's a bull on the puck, so we are looking forward to his addition."
Defenseman Miro Heiskanen, 19, the No. 3 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, also is likely to make a big impact this season.
"This year, we are lucky to have Nichushkin coming back, who is entering the prime of his career, and Heiskanen coming in, who is one of the best young players in the world not in the NHL," Nill said.
The Stars bolstered their depth by signing forward Blake Comeau (three-year contract), defenseman Roman Polak (one-year contract) and backup goalie Anton Khudobin (two-year contract) on July 1.
"To be honest, I was really surprised they didn't make the playoffs last year," Comeau, who played for the Colorado Avalanche the past three seasons, told the Stars website. "It was really appealing to go there, and I hope I can fit in there, help where I can and get back in the playoffs with them. I can play up and down the lineup. I can play both wings and don't have a preference in that sense. Hopefully I can add to the penalty kill."
Though there is plenty of young talent on the Stars, Benn is hopeful he and the other veterans can help them compete in the tough Central Division, which had four teams qualify for the playoffs last season and six teams with at least 92 points, including Dallas (42-32-8, 92).
"It starts with the leadership group and the core players that we have here," the captain said after Dallas cleaned out its lockers in April. "It's trying to build something and playing the right way and playing winning hockey. ... I've been through many coaches and systems and you try to find a balance between all of them and set a good example for the new guys that are coming in here."
Next up for the Stars is a long-term contract for Seguin, who can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. The 26-year-old, who has been eligible to sign an extension with Dallas since July 1, has been first or tied for first in goals on the Stars four of the past five seasons.
"I don't want people to panic if he is not signed when the season starts (Oct. 4)," Nill said. "I think the biggest thing is we need to have a good season, get off to a good start. I hope he is signed by then, but I know if he isn't, we'll get a good year out of him and go from there. ... I am hopeful we can get it done."

Andrew Luck makes return as Colts beat Seahawks 19-17

Andrew Luck could feel the pressure building as he prepared for his first game action with Indianapolis since the final week of the 2016 season.
When he let go of trying to contain his excitement, the pressure was released.
"I really enjoyed it. I didn't quite know I'd have this much fun getting practice again. I didn't know I'd have this much fun even playing football," Luck said. "It's a preseason game, I'm not going to blow anything out of proportion, but it's still a game, a chance to go up against another color jersey. It was a fun step along the way."
Luck was back under center, leading Indianapolis on a pair of field-goal drives in just over a quarter in the Colts' 19-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night.
The reintroduction of Luck as the Colts' leader started with a 17-yard swing pass to Marlon Mack on the first play. It concluded early in the second quarter when his pass intended for T.Y. Hilton was broken up. In between, Luck was bear-hugged by Seattle All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner on a scramble run, sacked by Rasheem Green, and also showed flashes his surgically repaired right shoulder is ready to allow him to again be a premier quarterback.
Luck completed 6 of 9 passes for 64 yards, most of that coming on the opening drive when he hit 5 of 7. Luck completed passes to five receivers and threw from a clean pocket on most of his dropbacks, even with starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo not playing.
It had been nearly 600 days since Luck was last on the field, when he threw for 321 yards in a 24-20 win over Jacksonville on Jan. 1, 2017. For one night, Luck looked like his pre-surgery form.
"He just kept saying how excited he was and right before he went out he said `There's a lot of emotions right now let's see if I can control them,'" Indianapolis coach Frank Reich said. "It was almost like he was saying, `I'm going to need to control how I'm feeling, because I'm pretty jacked up.' And he came out in the first drive and handled it like we expected."
Adam Vinatieri made field goals of 33, 51 and 45 yards in the first half, and Michael Badgley's 34-yarder late in the third quarter gave Indianapolis a 12-10 lead. Phillip Walker added a 10-yard TD pass to Darrell Daniels early in the fourth quarter.
Luck's counterpart from the 2012 draft, Russell Wilson, played one series for Seattle. Wilson was 4 of 5 for 43 yards and capped his only drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Nick Vannett. It was Wilson's first action playing in the offense of new coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, which will be heavily tilted toward the run. Second-year running back Chris Carson averaged 6.5 yards per carry in limited action.
Seattle's defense scored with 3:15 left when an errant snap was recovered by Joey Ivie for a touchdown.
NATIONAL ANTHEM
Three Seattle players ran into the team's locker room prior to the national anthem.
Defensive linemen Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson, and offensive lineman Duane Brown left the field following team introductions and before the start of the anthem. They returned to the sideline immediately after it concluded. All three were among a group of Seattle players that sat during the anthem last season.
Brown and Jefferson said they intend to continue the action all season.
"The team was aware of everyone's emotions and feelings going forward and we're all supportive of each other," Brown said.
There were no other actions by either Seattle or Indianapolis players during the performance of the anthem.
EJECTION
Indianapolis safety Shamarko Thomas was ejected late in the fourth quarter after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Seattle wide receiver David Moore.
SHAQUEM'S DEBUT
Seattle rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin was all over the field in his debut. Griffin led Seattle with nine tackles, flashing the speed that made him a star in college. But he was also bullied on one play when Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle used his size to create separation from Griffin on contact and made a 9-yard reception from Luck.
"It felt good to kind of get out there and get your feet wet and kind of get some hits in," Griffin said. "I know the way the league works you don't really get a chance to really tackle too much so to kind of get out there and get a few tackles in."
INJURY REPORT
The most significant injury was Mack leaving late in the first quarter with a hamstring issue. Mack had four carries and two receptions in the first quarter. He wasn't likely to get much more action, but is still a concern going forward. Indianapolis coach Frank Reich didn't have any more of an update postgame.
Seattle backup offensive tackle Isaiah Battle limped off the field with a sprained knee in the third quarter, but Seattle coach Pete Carroll said it didn't appear severe. Battle had been gaining on Germain Ifedi for the starting right tackle spot. Rookie tackle Jamarco Jones also had to be carted off in the fourth quarter after injuring his left ankle. Carroll said X-rays were negative but it was a significant sprain.
Indianapolis also lost wide receivers James Wright and Deon Cain to knee injuries during the game.
NEXT UP
Colts: Indianapolis returns home to host Baltimore on Aug. 20.
Seahawks: Seattle will travel to the Los Angeles Chargers on Aug. 18.

Prescott throws for TD before 49ers rally past Cowboys 24-21

Coach Jason Garrett saw all he needed out of quarterback Dak Prescott on just one drive.
Prescott made the most of his brief appearance in the preseason opener for Dallas by throwing a 30-yard touchdown pass to rookie Michael Gallup on his only drive before the San Francisco 49ers rallied with two late touchdowns to beat the Cowboys 24-21 Thursday night.
"I thought it was a good drive by our offense, a good mix of run and pass," Garrett said. "Dak made some good decisions. He made a really nice run too keep the drive alive. We got the one-on-one opportunity down the sideline. Michael made a really good release and it was a good throw and catch."
Nick Mullens threw a 7-yard TD pass to Richie James Jr. with 18 seconds left to cap the comeback. Jeremy McNichols scored on a 1-yard run with 4:24 to go for San Francisco.
San Francisco's Jimmy Garoppolo didn't fare as well as Prescott in his first game action since signing a $137.5 million, five-year contract this offseason. Garoppolo completed 3 of 6 passes on his one drive.
"We're trying to do something different things and see what works and what doesn't," Garoppolo said. "We haven't been in that situation in a year and you try to get things rolling."
More concerning for the 49ers was the fact that six players left with injuries in the first half with the most concerning ones being shoulder injuries to tight end George Kittle and running back Matt Breida that could sideline them for "some time," according to coach Kyle Shanahan.
"It's what you scares you about training camp, it's what scares you about the preseason," Shanahan said. "You just want the game to end."
Prescott sat out the first exhibition game last season but got one series of action against the 49ers this year and looked sharp. He completed all three of pass attempts and converted a third-and-9 with a 12-yard scramble.
He capped his night with the deep ball to Gallup, who beat Jimmie Ward down the sideline. Ward got the start at cornerback in place of Richard Sherman, who is nursing a hamstring injury.
With the release of three-time Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant and the retirement of 15-year tight end Jason Witten, the Cowboys are searching for receiving threats this preseason. Gallup, a third-round pick out of Colorado State, has been impressive so far in camp.
"That's a good feeling," Gallup said. "Especially for me being so young and being a rookie and everything, I needed that boost of confidence. It was a good feeling."
NATIONAL ANTHEM
No players on either team kneeled during the national anthem, although 49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin did raise his right fist throughout the song. The Niners have been at the center of the protests during national anthem ever since Colin Kaepernick began kneeling two years ago. Eric Reid protested last year but both players are no longer with the team. Linebacker Eli Harrold also kneeled during the anthem the past two years but stood to start this season.
INJURIES
The Niners had a parade of injuries early, starting with LB Malcolm Smith limping off with a hamstring issue on the opening drive. TE George Kittle and backup RB Matt Breida left with shoulder injuries. Thomas and backup tackle Garry Gilliam were sidelined by concussions and Harrold had a lower leg injury.
Cowboys OL Marcus Martin limped off the field in the second half with a toe injury, S Marqueston Huff left with a groin injury, and WR Marchie Murdock had an ankle injury.
NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES
Joe Thomas got the start at linebacker for Dallas in place of Sean Lee and delivered an interception against C.J. Beathard on a tipped pass by Kavon Frazier. ... Cowboys rookie RB Bo Scarbrough had a 28-yard run and scored a 1-yard TD in the second quarter. ... James had four catches for 46 yards and fellow rookie Dante Pettis caught a 53-yard pass .
HELMET FOUL
There was one penalty under the new rule prohibiting players from leading with their helmets. San Francisco LB Elijah Lee was called for the infraction on a tackle against Scarbrough in the third quarter.
NEXT UP
Cowboys: Host Cincinnati on Aug. 18.
49ers: Visit Houston on Aug. 18.

Texans top Chiefs 17-10 in preseason opener

Patrick Mahomes had a quiet first start for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Mahomes' first appearance as the Chiefs' starting quarterback lasted nine plays and netted 29 yards Thursday during a 17-10 loss to the Houston Texans in the preseason opener for both teams.
Now, the challenge for Mahomes, who finished 5 of 7 for 33 yards on his two drives, is to use the game to get ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 9 at the Los Angeles Chargers.
"We've got to just keep perfecting our craft, keep perfecting the plays and hopefully move the ball and score a few more touchdowns," he said, calling the preseason "a little bit of a tease."
Mahomes, who took over the starting job when Alex Smith was traded to Washington during the offseason, was sacked once and didn't throw a touchdown or interception in a solid, if unspectacular, performance.
"Just scoring a touchdown or a field goal would probably have made it a lot better," Mahomes said. "We moved the ball a little bit; we made some plays. But at the same time, you want to kind of get the drive going a little bit more."
Eventually, Chiefs fans will get to see Mahomes' full ability on display. He didn't complete a pass longer than 14 yards and never targeted Sammy Watkins - who signed a three-year, $48 million deal in the offseason - on Thursday.
"Being the quarterback that I am, I like to take shots downfield," Mahomes said. "I just didn't get the opportunity to do it tonight."
The announced crowd of 58,465 also witnessed the return of Houston's second-year franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson, who was selected two picks after Mahomes at No. 12 overall in the 2017 draft.
Watson won the Texans' starting job last season, but missed the second half of the season with a torn ACL. He played only one series and threw only one pass - a 4-yard completion to wide receiver Bruce Ellington - while handing off four times to running back Lamar Miller.
"I thought it was important for him to go through the whole warmup process and preparation for the game and get out there and operate the offense," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said.
That was good enough for Watson, who relished the return.
"It was a good time to get the juices flowing a little bit, to hear the fans and just walk on the field," Watson said.
Brandon Weeden took over for Houston after the game's opening drive and led back-to-back touchdown drives - including a 12-play, 68-yard drive during his first series that was capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Jordan Akins.
Weeden hooked up with Akins for a 14-yard touchdown on the next drive and finished 9 of 11 for 97 yards with two touchdowns after starting out with two incompletions.
Mahomes' backup, Chad Henne, was responsible for the lone Chiefs touchdown - a 24-yard pass over the top to Demarcus Robinson late in the second quarter.
"I want to come out and show the coaches I can make plays, so it was pretty good," Robinson said. "We had a double move called, so I gave him a little hesitation about 5 yards off the line and it was a great ball."
Robinson finished with three catches for a game-high 48 yards, while Henne finished 8 of 14 for 91 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Several notable players were absent for both teams.
Chiefs safety Eric Berry (Achilles' heel) didn't dress for the game. Backup Eric Murray got the start instead alongside rookie safety Armani Watts, who replaced injured starter Daniel Sorenson (knee).
"When they came and told me (I was starting), I was just ready," said Watts, a rookie fourth-round pick from Texas A&M. "That's what you've got to be as the next man up."
Kansas City also was without both starting inside linebackers - Anthony Hitchens, a free-agent acquisition from the Cowboys, and Reggie Ragland.
Houston had its share of absences as well - including linebacker Whitney Mercilus (soft tissue injury), who didn't make the trip.
Linebackers Benardrick McKinney and Jadeveon Clowney, defensive end J.J. Watt, safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Johnathan Joseph also didn't play along with starting wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.
NATIONAL ANTHEM
There were no protests from players on either team - though a few Chiefs, in particular, stood well off the sideline near the benches - during the national anthem. It didn't appear that any players went to the locker room for the anthem.
INJURIES
Texans LB Kennan Gilchrist did not return after absorbing a helmet-to-helmet blow late in the fourth quarter.
Coach Andy Reid said the Chiefs had three injuries - C Jimmy Murray (left knee), RB Kerwynn Williams (head), and G Ethan Cooper (left shoulder).
NEXT UP
The Chiefs (0-1) return to action Friday, Aug. 17, at the Atlanta Falcons.
The Texans (1-0) host the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, Aug. 18.

Mariota looks sharp for Titans; Packers' Adams goes deep

Marcus Mariota is proving to be a quick study with a new coach installing yet another offensive system for the Tennessee Titans.
Maybe Mike Vrabel will stick around for a while for Tennessee.
The Titans had a memorable opening series in Vrabel's preseason debut as coach before the Packers pulled away in a matchup of the backups for a 31-17 win on Thursday night.
"It was cool. I love this team, I do. I love these guys," Vrabel said about first time on the sideline leading the Titans.
Mariota was 2 of 3 for 42 yards with a 4-yard scoring pass to Darius Jennings on the opening drive of Mike Vrabel's first preseason game as Titans coach. Mariota also had one carry for 7 yards before leaving after the nine-play series.
It was a nice, if brief, start for Mariota. He's picking up a new scheme under his third head coach in four seasons.
"I thought we got into rhythm. We were able to go down and score a touchdown, which is always good. And hopefully we can just continue to build off of that," Mariota said.
Packers receiver Davante Adams needed just one series to show he was in midseason form before joining starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers and many other Packers starters on the sideline.
But backup Brett Hundley showed glimpses of improvement under center, going 9 of 14 for 108 yards and an 8-yard score to running back Jamaal Williams on the drive after Tennessee's score.
Hundley did his best impression of Rodgers by hitting Adams in stride down the left sideline for a 48-yard completion. The Packers' No. 1 receiver had a step on new Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler before getting pushed out at the 3, setting up Williams' score two plays later.
"I thought he had a couple drives, obviously the big play, and that's what this game is all about," coach Mike McCarthy said. "You've got to hit your big plays."
Hundley also threw an interception. But It was a promising outing overall for him after the Packers struggled to move the ball through the air when Hundley was under center while Rodgers was sidelined with a broken collarbone in 2017.
"I think for me this year, the anticipation, it's the understanding, it's the game slowing down, so things are a lot easier," Hundley said.
KIZER'S NIGHT
Hundley, who is competing with DeShone Kizer for the backup job, got the start and played well into the second quarter. Kizer went 9 of 18 for 134 yards, hitting rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 51-yard gain to the Titans 11 in the third quarter.
TITANS SECONDARY
Veteran Kenny Vaccaro started alongside All-Pro Kevin Byard at safety and had one tackle after playing into the second quarter. Formerly of the Saints, Vaccaro signed on Saturday after the Titans lost starter Johnathan Cyprien last week to a torn left ACL.
"He's come in and really focused on learning his job, becoming a good teammate, practicing hard," Vrabel said about Vaccaro.
QUOTABLE
"Really what we wanted to accomplish as a football team was establish our play style, and secondly was just try to create as many opportunities as we possibly could for our players." - McCarthy.
INJURIES
Titans: WR Corey Davis dressed and warmed up but did not play. The Titans' top wideout did not practice Monday or Tuesday after leaving practice early Saturday. ... S Dane Cruikshank (left shoulder) walked off after landing hard on the turf while trying to recover Quentin Rollins' fumble on a punt return.
Packers: S Jermaine Whitehead (back) left in the second quarter. S Josh Jones walked back to the locker room in the third quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. ... WR Randall Cobb (ankle) and DL Mike Daniels (quad) were among 18 Packers who did not dress.
NATIONAL ANTHEM
There were no apparent displays of protest by players on either team during the national anthem.
UP NEXT
Titans: Host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Aug. 18.
Packers: Host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 16.

Flacco, Jackson lead TD drives as Ravens beat Rams 33-7

 Joe Flacco needed only one series to show why there won't be any competition this summer to determine the Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback.
The other two guys, however, also put on quite a show.
Flacco threw a touchdown pass on his only series of the game, rookie Lamar Jackson ran for a score and Baltimore rolled to a 33-7 preseason victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night.
Baltimore (2-0) led 17-0 after the first period and cruised to the finish against the Rams (0-1), who rested offensive stars Jared Goff and Todd Gurley.
After sitting out the Hall of Fame Game last week, Flacco went 5 for 7 for 71 yards during a 10-play drive. The 11-year veteran overcame a second-and-25 with a 30-yard pass to newcomer Michael Crabtree and finished with a 6-yard TD throw to Patrick Ricard.
"That's really all we needed from Joe," coach John Harbaugh said. "Get Lamar out there with a lot of reps, get Robert (Griffin III) out there."
Jackson entered the next time Baltimore got the ball and coolly directed a 73-yard march in which he completed a 36-yard pass to Chris Moore and broke two tackles running for a 9-yard touchdown.
"It was a great run," Harbaugh said. "I thought he was tackled twice - and then he wasn't."
Said Jackson: "They tried to get to me, I made a guy miss. Then I did what I do best and tried to get in the end zone."
Jackson went 7 for 18 for 119 yards, ran for 21 yards and was sacked twice before giving way to Griffin early in the third quarter.
Griffin went 5 for 7 for 88 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown strike to Breshad Perriman.
Flacco has been named Baltimore's starter in the regular season. Griffin is seeking a comeback after being inactive in 2017, and Jackson is trying to adjust to the pro game after winning a Heisman Trophy at Louisville and being drafted in the first round last April.
Jackson could learn a thing or two by watching Flacco.
"He was awesome. He was smooth, had a lot of poise in the pocket," the rookie said.
The Ravens and Rams held joint practices Monday and Tuesday, and Los Angeles coach Sean McVay indicated the work against outside opposition would enable him to rest a few of his starters in the preseason opener.
So, Sean Mannion opened at quarterback, Malcolm Brown lined up behind him and the offense sputtered for much of the night.
Los Angeles gained 5 yards and made one first down in the first quarter. The Rams trailed 23-0 at halftime after totaling 45 yards and three first downs.
"We expect to play better and we will," McVay said. "Sometimes these lessons, these humbling experiences if you will, for everybody is the level of awareness. You can't wait to get back to work and know that we got a lot work to do. What's encouraging is we have time to figure it out."
Mannion played the first half, going 3 for 13 for 16 yards and an interception.
"It certainly wasn't my best performance. Just wasn't really able to get into a rhythm early," Mannion said.
NATIONAL ANTHEM
Both teams stood during the national anthem. While most of the Ravens lined up shoulder to shoulder on the sideline, second-year linebacker Tim Williams stood alone in front of the bench with his back toward the field.
INJURIES
It appeared as if both teams got out of the game without any significant injuries.
HELMET RULE
The Rams received successive 15-yard penalties in the first quarter for lowering the head to initiate contact, a new rule this season. Marqui Christian received the first flag, and Blake Countess followed. The penalties attributed for nearly half the yardage in a drive that produced a field goal for a 17-0 lead.
"The preseason offers a great opportunity for all of us to work through some things and learn," McVay said. "How that can enable us to better coach it, and how we can better understand, how we can expect them to consistently officiate that knowing that most importantly it's about taking the head out of the game."
UP NEXT:
Rams: After an extended stay on the East Coast, Los Angeles heads home to begin preparation for its next opponent, the Oakland Raiders at home on Aug. 18.
Ravens: Their next preseason game isn't until Aug. 20 at Indianapolis, but that begins a stretch of three games in 11 days.