Oct 9, 2011; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie (17) walks off the field dejected after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kansas City defeated Indianapolis 28-24. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

NFL Depth Charts Begin to Come Into Focus as Preseason Week Three Begins

Historically, week three of the preseason is the “big time” for NFL teams as they generally play their starters the entire first half and sometimes into the third quarter as 2012 NFL QB battles are largely settled.

Here are some brief tidbits of league news as teams adjust to new players and injuries:

Only two days after Titans’ second-year pro Jake Locker pitched a stinker, he was named the team’s starting quarterback. I wouldn’t call a headline “Locker in a Shocker” exactly because he does have the upside, physical tools and athletic ability that veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck lacks, but I think the announcement was more of an attempt to focus the team heading into the season. He still needs some work, but in the long run they’ll be better off. Now that CJ2K looks up to speed – literally and figuratively – his presence will keep defenses honest and open up the passing lanes to take some of the pressure off.

Chargers’ WR Vincent Brown’s broken ankle may not keep him sidelined for the season after all, according to the team. After his surgery to repair it went well, there’s a possibility he could return to action by early to mid November.

Bad news for Indianapolis Colts’ starting WR Austin Collie – he was helped off the field looking woozy during Sunday night’s 26-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Collie has a history of concussions and with Detroit Lions’ RB Jahvid Best’s lingering issues with the same problem, I’m starting to think that some players are simply more prone to concussions than are others. With the horribly sad story of Junior Seau still relatively fresh in mind and the NFLPA megasuit against the NFL over TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), we’ll hear a whole lot more in the weeks and months (and even years) to come. Peoples’ long-term health, sanity, and lives are at risk here and it bears much, much further scrutiny. It appears that rookie T.Y. Hilton may be pressed into more playing time whether he’s ready or not. He’s made some good plays and a few rookie mistakes (like batting a pass intended for him into the air last night, causing an interception), but the good so far has outweighed the bad.

Andrew Luck showed his ability to get back in the Colts’ saddle and keep firing away even after throwing a pick-six to CB Ike Taylor last night. Quarterbacks need short memories in some ways, and rookies often get rattled by mistakes or missed opportunities or even mistakes by others. Luck demonstrated just that last night as he continued throwing into tight spaces, relying on his receivers to do their part. I think the Colts will be just fine offensively.

The last QB battle to be officially decided is in Miami, but I think Head Coach Joe Philbin is going to start the rookie unless Matt Moore really outplays him this coming weekend. As soon as Tannehill was drafted, I’ve been of the opinion that he would be the week-one starter because of his familiarity with Mike Sherman’s offense coming in. The only real advantage Moore has over Tannehill is NFL experience. Moore has been slow to pick up the offense and hasn’t shown much in the preseason where Tannehill has made some good plays. Both guys struggled last week against a resurgent Carolina Panthers defense, but the issues facing the offense seem to be more on the line than anywhere else. They only had 37 yards rushing, averaging less than 2 yards per carry. That just won’t get it done, and rookie RT Jonathan Martin really struggled. While Tannehill’s athletic ability might help avoid the rush over Moore, constant hits on a young QB can ruin him (ie: David Carr) for good. There’s a good case to be made either way and if Philbin wants to play it “safe,” he’ll start Moore until their line, which does have a lot of talent with 3 first-round picks (Long, Pouncey, and Martin). I’ve been saying since the beginning that the job will probably wind up in the hands of the rookie to begin with. We’ll find out soon enough.

Injuries to Washington Redskins defenders Brian Orakpo and Brandon Meriweather don’t appear to be as serious as first feared. Scans revealed no significant damage and it’s quite possible both men will be on the field for opening day.

In Buffalo, it looks like Vince Young has the second-string job behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. The team also waived veteran OLB Shawne Merriman after one season. Merriman may now have trouble finding a starting role, but could wind up with a team as injuries inevitably occur. The Bills have really added talent to their front seven in the last two years and “Lights Out” didn’t fit in the plans.

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Tags: 2012 NFL Preseason Injuries 2012 Qb Battles Austin Collie Jake Locker

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