Denver Broncos wide receiver Montrell Washington is the kind of player that football fans have come to expect to see making a splash on the final Saturday night of the NFL preseason. The fifth-round draft pick from Samford, like rookies across the league, went into Week 3 of the preseason hoping to make one more good impression before Tuesday’s cut to the regular-season limit of 53 active-roster players.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis also had a predictable game on Saturday – a No. 2 quarterback getting a chance to run the show while the No. 1 signal-caller took the night off with the regular season kicking off in two weeks.
But Julio Jones on the field in a preseason finale? Or any preseason game really?
Yet there the seven-time Pro Bowler was – at least for a little while – in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 27-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night.
With starting quarterback Tom Brady running the first possession for the Bucs, Jones was on the field and had a 20-yard reception in Tampa Bay’s 11-play, 66-yard field-goal drive.
The former Foley High School and Alabama standout played in a preseason game for the first time since 2017, when he was with the Atlanta Falcons. Hamstring injuries caused Jones to miss seven games in 2020 with the Falcons and seven games in 2021 with the Titans. Jones joined the Buccaneers as a free agent just before training camp started and got his first game action wearing the No. 85 Tampa Bay jersey.
A wide receiver, Washington took a handoff against the Minnesota Vikings and scooted 11 yards for his first pro touchdown on Saturday night. The Broncos’ first touchdown of the game gave Denver a three-point lead with 5:48 left in the first half on its way to a 23-13 victory over the Vikings.
A former Auburn quarterback, Willis completed 15-of-23 passes for 131 yards with one touchdown and one interception and ran for a team-leading 79 yards on four carries, including a 50-yarder, against the Arizona Cardinals.
Willis’ 50-yard run reached the Arizona 3-yard line, and the Titans scored their first touchdown two snaps later with 9:57 left in the first half.
Willis threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Treylon Burks with 35 seconds left in the first half as Tennessee took a 13-7 lead.
As No. 1 quarterback, Ryan Tannehill watched as Willis ran every possession except the last one for the Titans. On that series, QB Logan Woodside capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run with 52 seconds to play that lifted Tennessee to a 26-23 victory.
In Saturday night’s other NFL preseason games:
· Former Lee-Montgomery and Auburn standout Daniel Thomas intercepted a pass on the first snap of the game for Jacksonville, but the Atlanta Falcons and rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder shook off the bad start for a 28-12 victory over the Jaguars.
· Joe Burrow’s backups, Brandon Allen and Jake Browning, passed for 303 yards and former Fort Payne standout Evan McPherson kicked three field goals as the Cincinnati Bengals came out on top 16-7 this time against the Los Angeles Rams in a rematch of last season’s Super Bowl teams.
· Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson caught four passes for 135 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown, and Baltimore stopped a 2-point conversion with 5:31 to play as the Ravens edged the Washington Commanders 17-15 for their 23rd consecutive preseason victory.
· Cleveland’s fourth-quarter comeback, which included a touchdown catch by former Alabama tight end Miller Forristall, came up short when the Chicago Bears stopped a 2-point conversion play with 2:31 to play to post a 21-20 victory over the Browns.
· Former Alabama All-American Tua Tagovailoa completed a 51-yard pass to former West Alabama standout Tyreek Hill on the first snap to set the tone for the Miami Dolphins’ 48-10 romp over the Philadelphia Eagles.
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Forty-seven players from Alabama high schools and colleges got on the field during Saturday night’s preseason games:
Atlanta Falcons 28, Jacksonville Jaguars 12
· Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen (Abbeville) did not play.
· Falcons defensive lineman Marlon Davidson (Greenville, Auburn) did not play.
· Falcons inside linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn High, Alabama) did not play.
· Rudy Ford (New Hope, Auburn) started at safety for the Jaguars. Ford made four tackles, recorded one sack and broke up a pass.
· Jaguars tight end Gerrit Prince (UAB) caught four passes for 32 yards.
· Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson (Alabama) did not play.
· Jaguars defensive end Jordan Smith (UAB) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley (Alabama) is suspended by the NFL and not eligible to play.
· Falcons defensive lineman Anthony Rush (UAB) did not play.
· Daniel Thomas (Lee-Montgomery, Auburn) started at safety for the Jaguars. Thomas made three tackles on defense, registered another one on special teams and intercepted a pass. On the first snap of the game, Thomas intercepted a long throw by Atlanta quarterback Desmond Ridder and returned it 10 yards to the Falcons 35-yard line. Jacksonville turned the turnover into a field goal for a 3-0 lead.
· Jaguars cornerback Darious Williams (UAB) did not play.
· Darryl Williams (Bessemer City) started at center for the Jaguars.
Cincinnati Bengals 16, Los Angeles Rams 7
· Chandler Brewer (Florence) started at right guard for the Rams.
· Javaris Davis (Auburn) started at nickel back for the Bengals. Davis made one tackle.
· Allan George (Andalusia) started at cornerback for the Bengals. George made five tackles.
· Rams outside linebacker Terrell Lewis (Alabama) did not play.
· Bengals kicker Evan McPherson (Fort Payne) made field goals from 38, 39 and 35 yards to give Cincinnati a 9-0 lead at halftime. McPherson also kicked an extra point.
· Bengals cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (Park Crossing) did not play.
· Rams defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson (Alabama) did not play.
· Bengals offensive tackle Jonah Williams (Alabama) did not play.
Tennessee Titans 26, Arizona Cardinals 23
· Titans inside linebacker Zach Cunningham (Pinson Valley) did not play.
· Titans defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Alabama) did not play.
· Titans running back Derrick Henry (Alabama) did not play.
· Cardinals center Rodney Hudson (B.C. Rain) did not play.
· Titans center Ben Jones (Bibb County) did not play.
· Christian Matthew (Samford) started at cornerback for the Cardinals. Matthew made three tackles.
· Titans cornerback Roger McCreary (Williamson, Auburn) did not play.
· Titans linebacker Monty Rice (James Clemens) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Deionte Thompson (Alabama) started at safety for the Cardinals. Thompson made one tackle.
· Malik Willis (Auburn) started at quarterback for the Titans. Willis completed 15-of-23 passes for 131 yards with one touchdown and one interception and ran for a team-leading 79 yards on four carries, including a 50-yarder. Willis threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks with 35 seconds left in the first half as Tennessee took a 13-7 lead. Willis’ 50-yard run reached the Arizona 3-yard line and the Titans scored their first touchdown two snaps later with 9:57 left in the first half.
· Cardinals inside linebacker Chandler Wooten (Auburn) led the Arizona defense with nine tackles. He also made a tackle on special teams.
Chicago Bears 21, Cleveland Browns 20
· Bears defensive lineman Angelo Blackson (Auburn) did not play.
· Bears fullback Khari Blasingame (Buckhorn) caught a 6-yard pass.
· Bears offensive tackle Shon Coleman (Auburn) played but did not record any stats.
· Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (Alabama) did not play.
· Browns running back Jerome Ford (Alabama) returned a kickoff 22 yards.
· Browns tight end Miller Forristall (Alabama) caught two passes for 13 yards, including a 6-yarder for a touchdown with 14:47 to play.
· Browns safety Ronnie Harrison (Alabama) did not play.
· Browns offensive tackle Chris Hubbard (UAB) did not play.
· Bears safety Eddie Jackson (Alabama) did not play.
· Bears wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. (Saraland) did not play.
· Darnell Mooney (Gadsden City) started at wide receiver for the Bears. Mooney caught a 5-yard pass.
· Nicholas Morrow (Huntsville) started at linebacker for the Bears. Morrow made one tackle.
· Anthony Schwartz (Auburn) started at wide receiver for the Browns. Schwartz caught an 8-yard pass.
· Bears offensive lineman Lachavious Simmons (Selma) played but did not record any stats.
· Jedrick Wills Jr. (Alabama) started at left offensive tackle for the Browns.
· Alex Wright (Elba, UAB) started at defensive end for the Browns. Wright registered a quarterback hit.
Miami Dolphins 48, Philadelphia Eagles 10
· Eagles safety Reed Blankenship (West Limestone) made five tackles.
· Eagles cornerback James Bradberry (Pleasant Grove, Samford) did not play.
· Raekwon Davis (Alabama) started at nose tackle for the Dolphins.
· Eagles guard Landon Dickerson (Alabama) did not play.
· Jack Driscoll (Auburn) started at right offensive tackle for the Eagles.
· Tyreek Hill (West Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Dolphins. Hill caught two passes for 64 yards, starting with a 51-yarder on the first snap of the game.
· Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (Alabama) did not play.
· Noah Igbinoghene (Hewitt-Trussville, Auburn) started at cornerback for the Dolphins. Igbinoghene broke up one pass.
· Eagles cornerback Josh Jobe (Alabama) did not play.
· Eagles punter Arryn Siposs (Auburn) averaged 49.2 yards on six punts, including five inside the Miami 20-yard line. He had a 62-yarder for this top punt, and his net average at 49.8 yards actually was better than his punt average.
· Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (Alabama) did not play.
· Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) started at quarterback for the Dolphins. Tagovailoa completed 6-of-7 passes for 121 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Tagovailoa connected with wide receiver Tyreek Hill on a 51-yard completion on the first snap of the game, and he capped the 75-yard series three plays later with an 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver River Cracraft. Tagovailoa played three series, which produced two touchdowns and a field goal.
· Jaquiski Tartt (Davidson, Samford) started at safety for the Eagles. Tartt made four tackles.
· Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) did not play.
· Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins (Athens) did not play.
Baltimore Ravens 17, Washington Commanders 15
· Commanders defensive tackle Jonathan Allen (Alabama) did not play.
· Ravens cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis (St. Paul’s Episcopal, Alabama) did not play.
· Ravens wide receiver Slade Bolden (Alabama) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Ravens inside linebacker Josh Bynes (Auburn) did not play.
· Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Alabama) did not play.
· Commanders defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis (Alabama) did not play.
· Commanders safety Bobby McCain (Oxford) did not play.
· Ravens inside linebacker Zakoby McClain (Auburn) made five tackles.
· Commanders running back J.D. McKissic (Central-Phenix City) did not play.
· Jeremiah Moon (Hoover) started at strongside linebacker for the Ravens. Moon made two tackles, shared a share and registered two quarterbacks hits on defense and made another tackle on special teams.
· Commanders defensive tackle Daron Payne (Shades Valley, Alabama) did not play.
· Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce (Daphne, Samford) did not play.
· Jeremy Reaves (South Alabama) started at safety for the Commanders. Reaves made four tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, on defense and made another tackle on special teams.
· Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr. (Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa, Alabama) did not play.
· Commanders wide receiver Cam Sims (Alabama) did not play.
Indianapolis Colts 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10
· Buccaneers linebacker K.J. Britt (Oxford, Auburn) made two tackles and one on special teams.
· Colts cornerback Tony Brown (Alabama) made a tackle on special teams.
· Colts defensive tackle Byron Cowart (Auburn) made two tackles.
· Carlton Davis (Auburn) started at cornerback for the Buccaneers. Davis made one tackle.
· Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean (Auburn) made one tackle.
· Julio Jones (Alabama) started at wide receiver for the Buccaneers. Jones caught a 20-yard pass.
· Colts center Ryan Kelly (Alabama) did not play.
· Colts linebacker Brandon King (Thompson, Auburn) did not play.
· Buccaneers defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches (Central-Phenix City) played but did not record any stats.
· Braden Smith (Auburn) started at right offensive tackle for the Colts.
· Buccaneers safety Nolan Turner (Vestavia Hills) made two tackles on defense and one on special teams.
Denver Broncos 23, Minnesota Vikings 13
· Broncos linebacker Christopher Allen (Alabama) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Broncos safety Kareem Jackson (Alabama) did not play.
· Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) did not play.
· Malik Reed (Dothan) started at left outside linebacker for the Broncos.
· Vikings wide receiver Myron Mitchell (Jasper, UAB) caught three passes for 18 yards. Mitchell also made a tackle on special teams.
· Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (Spain Park) did not play. Mullens joined Minnesota in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday.
· Vikings tight end Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama) did not play.
· Vikings outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith (Greenville) did not play.
· Broncos cornerback Patrick Surtain II (Alabama) did not play.
· Vikings defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama) did not play.
· Broncos punter Corliss Waitman (South Alabama) punted twice – a 41-yarder and a 40-yarder – with no return yards.
· Broncos wide receiver Montrell Washington (Samford) scored his first pro touchdown on an 11-yard run as Denver took a 10-7 lead with 5:48 left in the first half. Washington also had a 4-yard punt return.
· Broncos wide receiver Seth Williams (Paul Bryant, Auburn) caught four passes for 68 yards, including a highlight-reel snag for a 45-yard gain.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.