NFL preseason roundup
Vikings 28, Rams 7
Sage Rosenfels, chasing Tarvaris Jackson for Minnesota's quarterback job while Brett Favre waffles on his future, threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter then added a 71-yarder to Marko Mitchell in the third quarter of the Vikings' 28-7 victory over St. Louis on Saturday night.
Sam Bradford, the overall No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, had an up-and-down professional debut. He had an early case of the jitters, short-arming a pitch and bobbling a snap the first two plays, looked poised while hitting four of his first five passes, then ended with an extended rough patch.
Jackson started but wasn't out there for long, taking six snaps on the opening series while going 2 of 4 for 11 yards. Rosenfels finished 23 of 34 for 310 yards.
Bradford completed only two of his last eight passes, finishing 6 of 13 for 57 yards while getting sacked four times. The Vikings gave the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner's surgically repaired right shoulder a battle test with Jayme Mitchell getting 1.5 sacks on consecutive plays in the second quarter.
Steelers 23, Lions 7
Ben Roethlisberger never got off the bench in a return to Heinz Field that couldn't have been much quieter. Byron Leftwich probably wishes he had stayed on the sideline, too.
Leftwich, the quarterback who will replace the suspended Roethlisberger when the season starts, was ineffective despite playing much longer than expected, but Pittsburgh still beat Detroit behind backup Dennis Dixon.
Leftwich was outplayed by Matthew Stafford in the Lions quarterback's first game action since injuring a shoulder against Cincinnati on Dec. 6. After Stafford left following a 2-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson, the Steelers came back from a 7-6 deficit as Dixon led scoring drives of 75, 79 and 68 yards.
Roethlisberger never bothered to put on a helmet or warm up for the game that was delayed for 1 hour, 13 minutes in the second quarter by lightning and heavy rain.
Roethlisberger's behavior during a March night of drinking in Georgia that led to accusations of sexual assault but no charges visibly stirred anger among Steelers fans. But, five months later, his first appearance in a Steelers uniform since then didn't draw much reaction from the home crowd.
Dolphins 10, Buccaneers 7
Tampa Bay rookie Mike Williams caught a deep pass for a 30-yard gain to set up the only score by either first-team offense, while Miami's Brandon Marshall dropped both passes thrown his way.
Williams, a fourth-round draft pick who has already made the starting unit, beat cornerback Vontae Davis along the sideline and caught Josh Freeman's pass for a gain to the Miami 13-yard line. Two plays later, Freeman threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Stroughter, who outmaneuvered cornerback Sean Smith to cap a 60-yard drive.
The Bucs' first-team offense played two series, totaling 83 yards in 12 plays with four first downs. Freeman went 4 for 4 for 53 yards, and Carnell Williams carried four times for 21 yards.
Miami's first-teamers played four series and netted only 39 yards in 15 plays with two first downs. Marshall, acquired from Denver in an offseason trade, dropped a short pass when cornerback E.J. Biggers also got a hand on the ball. Marshall dropped another pass cutting over the middle when wide open.
Browns 27, Packers 24
Jake Delhomme led Cleveland to a touchdown in his only drive and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers threw for one in the exhibition opener decided on Phil Dawson's field goal as time expired.
Delhomme went 6 of 7 for 66 yards, including a fourth-and-1 flick to Mohamed Massaquoi for 12 yards that set up Jerome Harrison's 4-yard TD run. Backup Seneca Wallace added two touchdown passes.
Rodgers was similarly efficient, reading a corner blitz for a 25-yard TD pass to Greg Jennings. He finished 12 of 13 for 159 yards, but the Packers lost starting running back Ryan Grant after a hit to the head.
Dawson hit a 58-yarder with 1:27 to play and the 46-yarder to end it.
Cardinals 19, Texans 16
Houston's Matt Schaub had a short, highly efficient night and teammate Mario Williams didn't look like someone slowed by a hip injury.
Schaub completed 5 of 6 passes for 78 yards, directing Houston to a field goal on its first possession and throwing a 44-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson on the second before retiring for the game.
Rookie John Skelton directed two late touchdown drives to give Arizona the victory.
Williams, battling a hip problem, sacked Arizona's Matt Leinart twice as Houston took a 16-0 lead. Leinart completed 6 of 7 for 49 yards but, in addition to the sacks, misconnected with Tim Hightower on a handoff, for a fumble. Leinart's backup, former Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson, threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Beanie Wells but was intercepted twice.
Skelton, a fifth-round draft pick out of Fordham, connected with Jason Wright on a 15-yard pass play with 1:53 left for the deciding score. He completed 5 of 6 passes for 84 yards.
The Texans chose not to go for a game-tying 51-yard field goal at the finish.
• Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jared Gaither has a small tear in his back that will sideline him for at least two weeks. Gaither flew to California recently to visit a back specialist to figure out why he's been dealing with back spasms and cramps for the majority of training camp.
"It's a very small tear, I don't know the medical term for it," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It's not a serious thing, but it's going to keep him out for a couple weeks until it settles down because it's what's causing the spasms apparently.
"So, he's going to have to work as hard as he can and we'll have to try and work it out. I wouldn't hold my breath for about two weeks, three weeks, through camp here, and we'll see where we're at at that point."
With Gaither sidelined, the Ravens have been going with Oniel Cousins at right tackle and he's expected to start there for the rest of the preseason.
• The St. Louis Rams' chief contract negotiator says a deal is not imminent with free-agent running back Brian Westbrook. Kevin Demoff, vice president of football operations, said that he had not spoken to Westbrook's agent for several days.
Demoff told The Associated Press there was nothing to a published report that Westbrook would sign with St. Louis on Monday, although he remained optimistic that the Rams remained in the running.
Westbrook has visited several teams, including the Redskins and Cowboys.
The Rams are looking for a backup behind Steven Jackson, who is coming off back surgery.
• The Carolina Panthers have signed former Buffalo linebacker Nic Harris to add depth after numerous injuries at the position. The Panthers made room on the 80-man roster by waiving injured offensive lineman Steve Justice.
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