NFL.com breaks down what you need to know from Week 2 of the 2023 NFL preseason. Catch up on Monday night's biggest takeaways using the links below:
- One "fun" preseason win. On the strength of Joey Slye's right leg, the Commanders ended the Ravens' NFL-record 24-game preseason winning streak. One can debate the merits and importance of said streak for years to come, but perhaps this might too be something for these new-age Commanders to build upon. Magic Johnson knows a thing or five about winning a world championship as a player, but one of the Commanders' newest owners couldn't help his excitement about Monday's win, posting that it was "a lot of fun for Commanders fans!" Fun isn't something Washington fans have been accustomed to anytime recently. So, preseason or not, take what you can and smile wide. Questionably perhaps, Sam Howell, Terry McLaurin and the Commanders' starters played through the first half. This was an important Monday for the team in multiple ways. This is a team that's building and evaluating and trying to change the gloomy trajectory it's long been on. The preseason doesn't count in the standings, but that doesn't mean it can't portend a brighter autumn ahead.
- Blossoming star in Baltimore? If you blinked, you might've missed Zay Flowers on Monday. Sure, he only saw six snaps, but it's what he did with the ball in his hands that was truly a blur. Certifying the hype, Flowers was quick as a hiccup and fast as a flash on a pair of receptions. On the first, Flowers wiggled past a pair of defenders for an 11-yard gain. Three plays later, Flowers zoomed past the Commanders' defense for a 26-yard touchdown, taking a pass in the flat and weaving past multiple Washington defenders for six. The No. 22 pick of the 2023 NFL Draft has had people salivating at the possibilities of what he can bring to a Lamar Jackson-led offense. A healthy Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr. are certainly reasons for hopefulness, but if you get Flowers in space, he's going to make some big plays for Baltimore and ignite a Ravens WR corps that's long been stagnant.
- Starting Sam looks solid. Having just been bestowed the 2023 starting reins, Sam Howell (somewhat surprisingly) played the entire first half and backed up head coach Ron Rivera's QB1 decision with his showing. Howell led the Commanders to scores on three of his four drives, including back-to-back touchdown marches to end his night, tossing TDs to Antonio Gibson and Dyami Brown. Howell, who took perhaps some unneeded punishment on a scramble in which he was brutalized by an unkindness of Ravens, finished his night 19-of-25 passing for 188 yards, the two TD tosses, no interceptions and a 123.4 rating. The North Carolina product's most impressive play might well have come when he bounced back from a 13-yard sack to convert on third-and-15. He showed some moxie and toughness, an arm that was accurate and strong at times and stood tall in the pocket. Washington's QB situation has been a carousel of chaos since Kirk Cousins' departure. If nothing more, at this juncture, Howell's produced some optimism.
- Justice makes case for carries. Ahead of a 2021 campaign in which every Ravens running back was falling by the wayside to injury, Justice Hill seemed poised to break out. Then he tore his Achilles, and he, too, was lost for the 2021 season. Hill has returned to his promising form, though, having looked solid in each of Baltimore's first two preseason tilts. After busting loose for a 37-yard gallop in his team's first preseason tilt, Hill had three 10-plus-yard plays on as many touches. Hill was in on just the opening drive, and he was overshadowed by Flowers, but he's looked explosive and should have locked up a roster spot and opportunities ahead. Provided he's healthy and financially untroubled, J.K. Dobbins should lead the RB corps and be complemented well by Gus Edwards. Hill has made an argument to get some regular-season run, though.
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