The main goal for every NFL team is to exit the preseason without major injuries.
On Friday night those prayers weren't answered, as the mercurial football gods struck down two key players.
New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman left the game versus the Detroit Lions with what is believed to be a torn ACL, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, according to sources informed of the injury. The receiver will have an MRI on Saturday to confirm the diagnosis.
Edelman went down on a non-contact play as he was scampering through the secondary on his third catch of the opening drive. Tom Brady's favorite target limped from the field. He was later carted to the locker room and did not return.
In the later game, Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware was carted from the field with a sprained knee on the first drive versus the Seattle Seahawks. Ware was fighting for extra yards on a reception. The running back attempted to get up, but fell to the ground grabbing his right knee in pain.
Friday's injuries to key players on playoff teams are a reminder that football fortunes live on a precarious edge.
Here are our other takeaways from Friday's games:
1. Edelman's injury did not slow down Tom Brady. The 40-year-old quarterback diced up the Lions' defense with ease. TB12 looked in midseason form running the Patriots' quick-paced offense. Brady's first quarter was marvelous, finding mismatches all over the field, and dropping a gorgeous 32-yard dime to Chris Hogan for a touchdown. Brady's first quarter stats: 10 of 11 for 157 passing yards, 14.3 YPA, 2 TDs, 158.3 rating and 24 points. He ended his day on a heave interception into the end zone, but the ageless wonder reminded us why he's Father Time's greatest adversary.
2. Brandin Cooks was the splashy offseason acquisition, but Chris Hogan appears to be Brady's big-play target. Hogan caught four passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Brady is comfortable letting Hogan go up and get balls in traffic. If defenses bracket the speedy Cook, Brady has no problem going to Hogan in one-on-one matchups. If Edelman's injury lingers, Hogan's rapport with Brady will play an even bigger role for the Super Bowl champs in 2017.
3. Dion Lewis got the start in the Patriots' backfield (4 carries, 11 yards). James White earned the next reps with the starters (4-25). Mike Gillislee took the goal-line carries and earned a touchdown and two-point conversion (8-38, TD). Rex Burkhead sat out the game. Good luck to all Fantasy Football fans trying to decipher the Patriots' backfield.
5. Lions first-round pick Jarrad Davis struggled early. Brady picked on the linebacker, who looks terribly lost in coverage at times. Davis also had trouble getting off blocks versus the run. It's a reminder of the learning curve for the rookie linebacker starting in the middle of Detroit's middling defense. On a positive note, fellow rookie linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin continued his impressive preseason. The fourth-round pick showed good instincts diagnosing plays. His speed when recognizing plays is needed in the Lions' second level.
6. Ameer Abdullah flashed Friday night. The clear lead back, Abdullah out-carried Theo Riddick 13-to-1 in the first half. Abdullah looked quick to the edge and elusive between the tackles. The running back gobbled up 60 yards on those 13 totes (4.6 average) with a long of 12 yards. A weapon in the passing game as well, Abdullah caught all three of his targets for 39 yards, including a long of 18. Before injury struck last season, Abdullah looked like a difference maker for Matthew Stafford. The dual-threat showed Friday he can be that weapon this year if he can stay healthy.
1. Russell Wilson's first pass of the day was a scramble to find running back Chris Carson for a 37-yard strike. The Seahawks quarterback made big tosses throughout his stint. Along with the 37-yarder, Wilson completed passes of 39, 30, 25, and 20 yards on 19 attempts. Wilson uncorked several other deep balls that fell incomplete or led to pass interference penalties. If his offensive line can give him time, Wilson's deep aerial attack should be featured in 2017.
2. Speaking of the offensive line, replacement left tackle Rees Odhiambo performed adequately in pass protection in the first half (Wilson wasn't sacked in the first two quarters). Odhiambo, however, was clowned by Chris Jones for a sack to kill the opening drive of the second half. The second-year blocker also struggled some in run blocking. It wasn't a disaster, but it's a position that continues to be under scrutiny heading into the regular season.
3. Eddie Lacy blasted off for an 11-yard run to open the game, but rookie Chris Carson's star continues to rise. Lacy and Carson shared reps with the first team with Thomas Rawls still out. Carson hits the hole like a cougar sniffing out a feast. After hitting the hole hard, Carson shows good balance on the second level and powers through tacklers. Carson averaged 5.8 yards on eight carries and provides more in the pass game than Lacy. While he might start the year behind Rawls and Lacy, Carson is forcing his way onto the field.
4. After two flawless drives in the Chiefs' first two preseason games, Alex Smith faced a stiff test against Seattle's vaunted D. On four offensive drives in the first half, the Chiefs did most of their damage on the ground. Smith completed 7 of 17 passes for 44 yards, a measly 2.6 yards per attempt. K.C. did a great job spreading the field horizontally on a field-goal march to open the game. The Seahawks' defensive front, however, overwhelmed the Chiefs' offensive line, leading to Smith's struggles.
Kansas City's offense didn't find the end zone all night, with its lone touchdown coming on a 98-yard kick return for a touchdown.
5. Rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes fared little better than Smith against Seattle's second-stringers. Mahomes displayed his big arm, athleticism and fearlessness, taking several big shots. The rookie's sling on a second-and-19 to Jehu Chesson for a first down with a defender in his grill was a gorgeous pro-level play. Mahomes, however, had his struggles, holding the ball too long at times, and he threw several off-target passes. The rookie led four drives, including two three-and-outs, with a lone 15-play drive moving the offense for a field goal. Mahomes finished 8 of 15 for 70 yards (4.7 YPA). Friday was a good educational experience for Mahomes versus a great Seahawks defense as he prepares to spend the season behind Smith.
6. Even before Spencer Ware's injury, Kareem Hunt was in line for a big role, splitting first-team duties. Hunt runs with power between the tackles and owns elusiveness on the edge. Hunt finishes almost all his runs with ferocious shoulders into defenders. No one will ever accuse the 218-pound Hunt of fearing contact. He earned 39 yards on nine carries. The rookie will be in for a big role in the Chiefs' offense. No other running back earned a carry for K.C. in the first half after Ware went down. Charcandrick West took over for Hunt in the second half and earned negative-1 yard on three carries. C.J. Spiller got just three totes for 10 yards.