NFL QB Battles: Who Stands Out in Week 1 of Preseason?

There are a handful NFL teams with defenseman competition this summer.

With the first week of the NFL preseason now in the books, let’s dive into what the quarterback battles are all about.

Pittsburgh Steelers defenders have a reputable track record

Pittsburgh has three candidates for center in 2022: Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Kenny Pickett. All three had their share of positives in the team’s 32-25 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Trubisky opened the game by giving Pittsburgh the lead on the opening touchdown. The breakthrough was completed by a 13-yard pass to Olszewski. Trubisky finished the night 4-for-7 passing for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Rudolph, entering his fifth season with the Steelers, picked up where Trubisky left off, completing 9 of 15 passes for 93 yards. His night was highlighted by a 26-yard touchdown pass to rookie George Pickens.

Pickett, the No. 20 pick in the 2022 draft, had a brilliant debut. The University of Pittsburgh product finished the night with 95 yards passing and two touchdowns on 13-for-15 passing, getting what the defense gave him. Pickett’s efficiency could make Pittsburgh’s defense more competitive.

“They moved their units,” Mike Tomlin said of his QBs. “They were doing informal things related to the position in terms of leadership and communication. They were involved. It was a good first half for all three.”

Geno Smith, Drew Locke remain in a dead game for the Seahawks

Since trading Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, the Seahawks have had a tough situation with Lock and Smith, who started three games for Seattle last season when Wilson suffered a finger injury. The situation remains even more volatile after the team’s loss to Pittsburgh.

Serving as the team’s starter, Smith finished the game with 101 yards passing on 10-of-15 passing and a 2-yard touchdown run. The veteran appears to have the upper hand in the quarterback battle given his familiarity with the Seahawks offense; Smith, 31, is entering his fourth season with Seattle.

Lock, on the other hand, finished the game with 102 yards passing and two touchdowns on 11-for-15 passing.

The first week of the preseason is a likely draw in this battle.

“The assumption is that nothing has changed on the QB depth chart,” Bob Condotta wrote in The Seattle Times . “But there are two preseason games left, starting with the scrimmage against the Chicago Bears at Lumen Field on Thursday and almost a month until the first game against Wilson and the Broncos on Sept. 12.”

Veterans separately for Carolina Panthers

Carolina has four candidates for the starting quarterback position: Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Matt Corral and PJ Walker. All four played in the team’s 23-21 win over the Washington Commanders, with the veterans getting the win.

Mayfield, who was recently acquired from the Cleveland Browns, started for the Panthers and finished 4-for-7 with 45 yards. Darnold, the team’s primary back in 2021, was impressive in short reps. The fifth-year defensive back was 2-for-3, including an 8-yard touchdown run against Rashard Higgins. Walker, whose roster spot is in jeopardy given the team’s acquisition of Mayfield, got the most playing time of the group, throwing for 136 yards on 10-for-19 passing.

Corral, who Carolina traded up for the No. 94 pick in the 2022 draft, finished 1-9 for 11 yards.

Head coach Matt Rhule recently said he would not name a player until after the team’s game against the New England Patriots on Aug. 19.

However, Mayfield and Darnold appear to be the frontrunners to start, with Mayfield having four years of experience starting with the Browns and Darnold entering his second season with the Panthers.

“They were both in command,” Rhule said of Mayfield and Darnold. “Sam got us in the end zone, Baker got us down the field, so it seemed like both guys played well in terms of performance. We’ll go back and see where they are.”


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