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12 Pre-Season Stats You Need to Know - Week 2
David Dorey
August 19, 2008
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Following up from week one, here are the dozen stats you need to know from week two. This week was a better look at mostly rookies and the first (or second) time we have seen them play. Still too early to read too much into the stats for most, but the rookies are all trying to make their teams and secure their spot on the depth charts. Next week should be the best week of the preseason since that is when teams like to use their starters for perhaps the first half. It is typically the most revealing week. The final week is mostly just to determine who will be making the final 53 man roster.

1. Matt Forte has rushed 14 times for 42 yards and a 3.0 yard per carry average in his two games this preseason. That's not exactly the results the Bears would hope for but it mostly reflects the bad offensive line that doomed the rushing game in 2007. The Bears have opted to start Kyle Orton which ensures the Bears will make much fewer mistakes than with Grossman, along with much fewer yards and scores. Forte has a lock on the starting role but so far it doesn't have the look of much fantasy production.

2. A player to put in your back pocket for a dynasty league or just to be aware of is Justin Forsett, the CAL rookie back for the Seahawks who just ran for 136 yards on 15 carries and scored once against the Bears. Added to week one, he has 28 carries for 194 yards and a 6.9 YPC. He is only 5'8" and 194 pounds and realistically all his gains have been in the second half of games. He is just fighting to make the roster and remains no better than 4th on the depth chart but so far he could not hardly done more than he has. Keep tabs on Forsett even though it may lead nowhere.

3. The rookie Josh Morgan of the 49ers has been a training camp wonder and that says something when Mike Martz is directing the offense. Morgan caught five passes for 114 yards and a score against the Packers this week and has a total of nine catches for 182 yards over the two games. He's a lock to make the roster and is playing for a team where none of the wideouts have distinguished themselves so far. Morgan will get playing time this year and has been impressive. He will be limited by a quarterback situation that has yet to be resolved and that could be a major limitation.

4. After catching four passes for 78 yards against the Giants in week one, Calvin Johnson went against the Bengals and had three receptions for 76 yards and a score in just the first eight plays in Cincinnati. He looks so good that you have to wonder how much he might affect Roy Williams' production.

5. The rookie Eddie Royal in Denver is another player seemingly intent on showing up the veterans. He gained 67 yards on two catches against the Cowboys and has been pushing everyone else down the depth chart. He now is expected to remain in the starting lineup when Brandon Marshall returns from suspension for two or three games. He's the new #2 in Denver.

6. Steven Slaton rushed 13 times for 57 yards and one touchdown against the Saints. This is notable because it was the best any running back for the Texans produced. Since Ahman Green and Chris Brown cannot make it through one meaningless preseason game without injury, it will eventually get to Slaton taking on more than just third down duty. The Texans also have Chris Taylor and just signed Marcel Shipp but Slaton has the best chance to shine in Houston - if in fact anyone in the backfield does.

7. Following up on his big debut week, the rookie Chris Johnson rushed for 46 yards on eight carries against the Raiders once again leading the Titans for the week. LenDale White remains the primary but every week that Johnson shines is more carries that are going to end up with the speedy rookie instead of the rumbling White. At this point, Johnson should be one of the first running backs drafted after the NFL starters are taken in your league.

8. Yet another back-up rookie running back that refuses to slow down is Ray Rice with the Ravens. He has been a star in training camp while working with the first team since Willis McGahee is still out and after only getting 12 yards on six carries in New England (going against the first team defense), Rice rushed for 77 yards on eight carries and scored once in the first offensive series. Rice should be one of the early backup running backs taken in your drafts as well and could end up limiting McGahee.

9. The Eagles drafted DeSean Jackson mainly for his outstanding punt return skills but the rookie from CAL has been the most impressive receiver in preseason games so far. After two games, he has 12 catches for 122 yards and has worked with the first team while Reggie Brown keeps falling in the coaches eyes. Brown now has a strained left hamstring and while Jackson may only weigh around 170 pounds, he could become the #2 this year at least for a while.

10. The Raiders didn't use Zach Miller in week one but JaMarcus Russell locked onto him against the Titans. Miller led the Raiders with four catches for 48 yards and one very impressive touchdown catch. Russell will need a reliable outlet and Miller is already stepping up.

11. Trent Edwards only completed one of five passes in week one in Washington, but against the Steelers he went 9 of 11 for 104 yards and two touchdowns (both to Robert Royal). That was much more comforting to see for a quarterback that most expect to take the next step up in development this year.

12. Jonathan Stewart finally got on the field but only gained three yards on four carries against the Eagles. Not exactly the sort of debut a #13 overall draft pick wants though in fairness he ran behind a less effective second string offensive line. He's been sent back to his old doctor to convince him that his toe is fine and that it just feels funny because of scar tissue. He should drop in most drafts though at least until next week when the Panthers host the Redskins.

Those are the dozen stats that either send encouraging signs or just confirmed fears. It is still early preseason and anything that happens has to be weighed against what it really means - if anything at all. But there are plenty of situations that must define themselves in the next two weeks before teams set final rosters at 53 men and depth charts are confirmed.

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