Fitzpatrick back facing another ex-team in Titans with Bucs
By The Associated Press
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been in the NFL long enough, and been with so many different teams, that the quarterback has plenty of experience of playing somewhere in a different uniform.
Coming back to Tennessee is a bit easier thanks to such a short stint with the Titans.
“When I was here, it was such a blur because really it was just a year,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’d just got released from Buffalo and was only here for a quick time. So they’ve done a really nice job with it. It’s almost unrecognizable with some of the stuff and how it’s changed so quickly.”
Fitzpatrick went 3-6 filling in for Jake Locker in 2013. That was three coaches and a handful of quarterbacks ago for Tennessee with Fitzpatrick with his third team since then.
Making the return visit more enjoyable is Fitzpatrick is expected to start a second straight preseason game Saturday night for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay will be without Jameis Winston for the first three games of the season, suspended after the NFL investigated an allegation Winston groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in March 2016.
Tennessee will start Marcus Mariota, the quarterback drafted No. 2 overall in 2015 after Tampa Bay selected Winston. Mariota is on his third head coach in Mike Vrabel, who will make his home debut Saturday night. Mariota is busy learning offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur’s offense and wants to follow up the touchdown drive he had in their opener at Green Bay.
“If we can go out there, operate at a high tempo, operate where everybody’s on the same page, we’re all communicating, being efficient, that will be definitely success,” Mariota said.
Elsewhere around the NFL, Jacksonville is at Minnesota, Oakland visits the Rams, Cincinnati is at Dallas, San Francisco visits Houston, Chicago is at Denver and Seattle is at the Chargers.
What to look for around the league Saturday:
JIMMY G AND DEANDRE
Jimmy Garoppolo’s exhibition debut lasted one drive with a few off-target passes and no points. He could get a little more time against Houston after two days of joint practices with the Texans showing him a different style of defense than he usually sees in practice.
“I think it was good. A lot of different looks that we’re not used to getting,” he said. “They run a different defense than what we’re used to so it got our guys thinking and I think we handled it very well.”
Houston star receiver DeAndre Hopkins missed most of the first of two practices with the 49ers after being kicked out for his role in a scuffle with Jimmie Ward. In his return, he reveled in competing against four-time Pro Bowler Richard Sherman and hopes to get more work in against him Saturday night.
“It’s always good to up against a veteran guy because he can tell your weaknesses, he’s going to tell you after what you need to work on,” Hopkins said. “So, going up against guys like that, it helps me stay on top of my game.”
When the Raiders return to their old home at the L.A. Coliseum for the first time in nearly 24 years to face the Rams in an exhibition game, both teams will have key pieces missing.
Oakland edge rusher Khalil Mack and Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald, the winners of the past two AP Defensive Player of the Year awards, both are staging contract holdouts as they seek lucrative long-term deals.
That gives both teams opportunities to see what kind of pass rush they can get without the two stars. The Raiders were pleased with the inside push rookies P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst supplied in the exhibition opener against Detroit last week.
The game marks the Raiders’ first game at the Coliseum since losing 19-9 to Kansas City on Dec. 24, 1994. The Raiders spent 13 seasons at the Coliseum before returning to Oakland in 1995, winning the Super Bowl following the 1983 season.
Rams coach Sean McVay is expected to hold out quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley and most key playmakers for a second straight game.
COUSINS’ MINNESOTA DEBUT
The previous time the Vikings suited up at U.S. Bank Stadium, they beat the New Orleans Saints in their playoff game on Stefon Diggs’ last-play touchdown catch from Case Keenum. Kirk Cousins watched that one from home, in awe and disbelief like everyone else, not yet knowing Minnesota was the place he would wind up.
Now Cousins, who signed a three-year, $84 million, fully guaranteed contract, will put on his new purple jersey in front of Minnesota’s fans for the first time. He is expected to play more than one series after being perfect in the Vikings’ exhibition opener last week at Denver.
“The little bit I’ve been there, it’s a great facility,” Cousins said. “I’m just so excited to hear the crowd and go through warmups and just get a feel for the game-day dynamic. I’m sure it’s going to be second to none in the NFL.”
The Jaguars will be without both cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Dante Fowler in Minnesota. Both were left at home for disciplinary reasons following a scrap between Fowler and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. That ought to create more opportunities for rookie defensive end Taven Bryan, who was held out of the game against New Orleans last week because of an abdominal injury. Bryan was the 29th overall pick in the draft out of Florida.
DALTON HOMECOMING: COLLEGE VERSION
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton gets another college version of his two Texas homecomings in Dallas.
The Houston-area native and former TCU standout threw for two touchdowns in the preseason debut of Cincinnati’s revamped offense, a 30-27 win over Chicago . It’s the third time Dalton has visited the Cowboys, who play about 20 miles from his college home. This is his second preseason trip.
Dalton and the Bengals should get a better test against Dallas, though linebacker Sean Lee and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who tied for second in the NFL in sacks last season, may not play.
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott figures to play after throwing a touchdown on his only drive of the preseason opener at San Francisco. Running back Ezekiel Elliott skipped that game and might sit again. If the Cowboys stick to last year’s plan, the 2016 NFL rushing leader’s only exhibition game will be next week at home against Arizona.
John Elway wants to know if his backup QB is on Denver’s roster . Chad Kelly gets a shot at the job against Chicago as the new No. 2 after leapfrogging ineffective Paxton Lynch this week.
Kelly was the final player selected in the 2017 draft and sat out his rookie season while recovering from wrist and knee surgeries. He lost weight and had a terrific offseason, then threw for 177 yards and two touchdowns in mop-up duty against the Vikings last week, his first game in more than 640 days. Lynch threw for just 24 yards in seven series and misread defenses over and over. On Monday, Kelly was promoted.
New Bears coach Matt Nagy wants more from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky after he struggled in limited action in the preseason opener at Cincinnati.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll has already returned twice to Los Angeles, where he’s still a beloved football figure from his dominant tenure at USC, to face the Rams. Now he’s back in town to lead his Seahawks against Anthony Lynn’s Los Angeles Chargers. Seattle will be eager to see whether one-handed linebacker Shaquem Griffin can match his performance in the preseason opener when he led the Seahawks in tackles.
The Chargers don’t intend to show much significant game-planning against an opponent they’ll face again in November, but quarterback Philip Rivers is likely to get a few early snaps. Defensive end Joey Bosa is not expected to play.