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NFL preseason Week 2 takeaways: Rookies Bryce Young, Bijan Robinson see action with different results

The second week of preseason games for the 2023 NFL season kicked off Thursday night with a matchup between the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles and the Cleveland Browns.

On Friday, the New York Giants hosted the Carolina Panthers and the Cincinnati Bengals were on the road against the Atlanta Falcons.

There are 11 games on Saturday and one each on Sunday and Monday. The Saturday slate has several interesting games, including Jacksonville at Detroit, Buffalo at Pittsburgh, and New England at Green Bay. The action wraps up on Monday night on ESPN with Baltimore at Washington.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the first three games, along with the rest of the Week 2 preseason schedule.

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Bengals: It’s not just the two preseason games that have left the Joe Burrow-less offense lacking sharpness. After Burrow went down in the second practice of training camp with a strained right calf, the offense has sputtered.

On Friday, backup quarterback Jake Browning (16-of-22 for 140 yards) fared better than Trevor Siemian (7-of-14 for 62 yards) who started in his turn in the rotation. But the Bengals didn’t score an offensive touchdown in the first two preseason games until the final 50 seconds Friday, and the passing game isn’t solely to blame. The run game has been inefficient and penalties have ruined drives.

Unless the Bengals get some improvement or perhaps find another option at backup quarterback, Cincinnati can’t afford to have Burrow injured during the regular season.

The Bengals trotted out their first-team defense for a brief stint against the Falcons. We’ll see if the Bengals follow suit for the preseason finale against Washington. — Ben Baby

Next game: at Commanders (6:05 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug 26)

Falcons: Atlanta got a little bit of everything in its lone offensive drive with the starters in the game. Quarterback Desmond Ridder looked sharp, completing 7 of 9 passes, and though the drive ended in an interception, it was a tipped-ball pick by Joseph Ossai.

Rookie running back Bijan Robinson was as advertised, making defenders miss, showing high-level speed and looking exactly as he had throughout training camp. He has the traits of a special player with four carries for 20 yards. The biggest concern was four penalties from the first offensive unit, including two holding calls on guard Chris Lindstrom, who had one penalty combined in his first four NFL seasons.

Atlanta played the vast majority of its starters one series on each side of the ball against the Bengals. While it’s possible Atlanta plays some starters Thursday against Pittsburgh in the preseason finale, it would be surprising to see the majority of them in action again before Week 1 against Carolina on Sept. 10. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Steelers (7:30 p.m. ET Thursday, Aug 24)

Panthers: Rookie quarterback Bryce Young needs some help.

He needs it from his offensive line, which for the second straight week allowed the No. 1 overall pick of the draft to take a couple of vicious hits (e.g., left tackle Ikem Ekwonu was beaten twice) and continued to make costly penalties (e.g., a hold on rookie right tackle Chandler Zavala negated a 15-yard, third-down catch).

He needs it from his wide receivers, who continue to be sloppy with route running. Last week Laviska Shenault Jr. ran too deep on a third-down play. Rookie Jonathan Mingo stopped his route short Friday night on a third-down throw that should have been completed.

The good news is Young hasn’t lost his cool or made costly mistakes. He completed 3 of 6 passes for 35 yards on two series (17 plays) and led a 15-play, 62-yard drive for a field goal. Progress, but those around Young aren’t playing winning football. — David Newton

Next game: vs. Lions (8 p.m. ET Friday, Aug 25)

Giants: Consider this a dream preseason result for the Giants’ starters, who coach Brian Daboll said he wanted to see at some point in the preseason. Quarterback Daniel Jones, making his first appearance since signing a four-year deal in March, looked like a $160 million player. He was close to perfect in his one and only drive, completing 8 of 9 passes (including three to new tight end Darren Waller) for 69 yards and a touchdown.

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