Preseason NFL action doesn't disappoint

Updated 8/12/2014 6:11 AM
  • Cleveland Browns quarterbacks Brian Hoyer, left, and rookie Johnny Manziel are locked in a preseason battle to win the starting job.

    Cleveland Browns quarterbacks Brian Hoyer, left, and rookie Johnny Manziel are locked in a preseason battle to win the starting job. Associated Press

Even though it was just preseason, the first NFL weekend of the year was great to watch and most of the pertinent players survived.

The Chicago Bears won their game and we saw some good things already.

The Cleveland Browns got average performances out of quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel on the road against the Detroit Lions. They both managed to put their teams in positions to score touchdowns, but had to settle for field goals instead. Both men also came out unscathed, which after your first preseason game is more important than any stats or even a win.

Manziel went 7-11, which was OK, but it was his 27 yards on the ground on plays that were covered that might have given him an edge going into Game 2. However, it still looks like a solid competition between the two quarterbacks there.

Now the last time I got excited about an athlete playing in the preseason was Walter Payton, and as a hometown boy I almost always look for the Chicago Bears pick to do well, but I have to admit I was more excited this year about Manziel's debut.

I was at a graduation party on Saturday, and I said I had to leave and get home by 7 o'clock so I could watch Manziel.

I did see Hoyer play briefly, but my focus clearly was on "Johnny football."

I know, I know -- it was only preseason football, but I was glued to the TV to watch the new No. 1 star in the NFL.

Will his star shine during the regular season? I think it just might.

Manziel did well enough playing behind a second-string offense and second team receivers. He is starting this week, which means I will watch for certain.

Don't worry, though, I won't forget my Bears.

Clowney looks average:

I have to give the Houston Texans' Jadeveon Clowney a "C"grade for his first preseason game. He made a couple of good plays, but he also got burned when he tried to cover a player out of a short passing situation, which resulted in a touchdown.

He looks like a stud with his burst rushing the passer, and he still has time to get better as a linebacker.

Here was the surprise of the evening: Blake Bortles went 7-11 for a 117 yards for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jaguars have downplayed his standing on the team by saying he won't play this season, but Mike Florio, a Fox Sports radio contributor from, believes Bortles will start in Game 1 of the regular season.

Florio made this statement before the first preseason game, and I'm with him. The philosophy is long gone about a high draft pick holding the clipboard for a couple of seasons. If he continues to make progress, look for Bortles to take the reins sooner.

Who thought preseason football would be this much fun?

Program notes:

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• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at For more, visit

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