What’d I Miss: Key injuries, emergent rookie QB and more from Preseason Week 3

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Excuse the panting. We’re still out of breath from an action packed Week 3 of the NFL’s preseason. Following a typical television series formula, the preseason’s penultimate week was full of twists, turns and unfortunately in this case, gore. If you were busy doing something more productive than watching a fake football marathon, here is everything relevant you missed:

The infirmary

Major injuries were too commonplace this week. Patriots star wideout Julian Edelman tore his ACL and will miss the season. Edelman has been a critical ingredient for Tom Brady and the Pats offense. Per ESPN Stats and Info, Brady’s TD-INT ratio with Edelman playing is 4.6. Without Edelman? 1.6.

The trade to acquire Bradin Cooks from New Orleans this offseason is looking rather sage. Cooks is a deep threat but can also excel all over the field. Last year’s emergent receiver Chris Hogan will be given an elevated role, as will Super Bowl star Malcolm Mitchell, assuming he can stay healthy. But no receiver (except arguably Gronkowski) can replicate the chemistry Brady and Edelman have built since Edelman entered the league in 2009. The loss of Edelman presents a major challenge for OC Josh McDaniels. If he adjusts well schematically and the offense doesn’t miss a beat, look for McDaniels to emerge as the top head-coaching candidate come January.

The Bears had exactly two reliable skill position players: running back Jordan Howard and wide receiver Cameron Meredith. Make that one as Meredith was carted off during Sunday’s exhibition with wait was believed to be a season-ending ACL tear. Unlike New England, Chicago has little receiving talent past Meredith aside from possibly Kevin White who has spent most of his career on IR. The Bears do, however, possess a much improved defensive front seven under crafty coordinator Vic Fangio which should keep them at least a tier above bottom feeder teams like the Jets and Browns.

The Chiefs lost their starting rusher when Spencer Ware suffered a PCL Friday night against the Seahawks that likely ended his season. Rookie Kareem Hunt will assume Ware’s slot and has impressed with versatility as a rusher and receiver. Hunt has skyrocketed on fantasy boards given Andy Reid’s old school precedent of truly featuring one back. Ware was a reliable option but the Chiefs will be just fine with Hunt. In fact, many fantasy experts now predict Hunt will be the top rookie rusher over names like Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette.

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The Kizer Era begins

Is it too soon for rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer to start? Probably, but Hue Jackson and the Browns have little choice. The Brock Osweiler experiment has fizzled and Cody Kessler failed to progress as Jackson had hoped. Kizer was named the starter entering the team’s third preseason game – a slot typically reserved for the regular season starter. Kizer’s numbers hardly jumped off the page in one half of football (6-for-18, 93 yards) but he showed enough pose and mechanics to win the job outright.

Given the options, groans of NOT playing Kizer would have likely swirled in Cleveland. Jackson is taking the training wheels off Kizer but also keeping the expectations realistic. Kizer is already displaying some characteristics of a starting quarterback. When asked about his critics on Monday, he responded with swagger: “You tell ’em out there everyone has a right to an opinion. If that’s their opinion then we’ll see Week 1,”

Why they protest

49ers safety Eric Reid said he wouldn’t kneel this season. That changed Sunday night. Reid explained why in beautiful fashion.

Punters are (awesome) people, too

Meet your new favorite kicker, Kevin Huber (/NFL) * * * #bengals #nfl #kevinhuber #puntersarepeopletoo

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More happenings

– Great Samaritan J.J. Watt posted a powerful video to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Harvey. His goal was $200,000. He surpassed $5000,000 as of this writing.

– Notorious dirty Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict was suspended five-games for an illegal hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman from earlier this month.

– Robert Kraft is the most partying 76-year-old in the world.

– Everyone suddenly loves Jay Cutler and Jay Cutler suddenly loves everyone.

– The Jets traded for a long snapper because in preparation for the ridiculous amount of punting that lies ahead.