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What we learned in Thursday's preseason games

Week 4 of the preseason is generally viewed as a competitive wasteland, and rightly so. After all, a long snapper was rested on Wednesday. A long snapper, people.

On Thursday, we saw some name brands, if only for a series or so. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson hooked up for a score, because that's the only thing they know how to do. Philip Rivers stayed in long enough to throw another pick. Sam Bradford stuck around for four possessions, playing deep into the second quarter.

Meanwhile, Cleveland Browns rookie Brandon Weeden spent the night in bubble wrap. John Skelton vs. Kevin Kolb was screaming for a fourth act and the sliver of clarity it could bring. Instead, we got the Ryan Lindley Variety Hour.

Don't bother trying to make sense of this stage of the preseason. Just be happy it's over.

Here are some more takeaways from the 13 games on Thursday night:

»Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, another notable player who took the field in Week 4, suffered a bruised arm against the Indianapolis Colts. Dalton said he was "fine" and Marvin Lewis claimed Dalton would've remained in the game if it were the regular season.

»Blaine Gabbert overcame an early gaffe to turn in a solid game against the Atlanta Falcons. The Jaguars have to be feeling better about their second-year quarterback after a positive preseason run.

»St. Louis Rams rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers was carted off the field with an ankle injury. Rams coach Jeff Fisher didn't believe the injury was serious, but acknowledged "sometimes those ankles linger on."

» After a loss to the Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Adrian Peterson is expected to be a game-time decision for Week 1.

» The New York Jets finally scored a touchdown. Gotham celebrates deep into the night. That's not true.

»Whitney Mercilus continues to make it look like the Houston Texans won't miss a beat without Mario Williams. The first-round draft pick had another sack on Thursday, giving him 3.5 for the preseason.

»Graham Harrell has become a figure of suspicion for Green Bay Packers fans, but he stepped up against the Kansas City Chiefs.

»Jim Harbaugh is probably feeling pretty good about his decision to install Colin Kaepernick as Alex Smith's understudy. The second-year quarterback put together his best preseason performance against the San Diego Chargers, finishing 12-of-18 for 158 yards and two touchdowns in one half of work.

»Rashad Butler's triceps muscle has betrayed him again. The Houston Texans tackle is gone for the year after tearing his triceps against the Minnesota Vikings, coach Gary Kubiak confirmed. Butler missed 14 games with the same injury in 2011. Andrew Gardner will fill the role of swing tackle, unless Houston decides to sniff around.

»Michael Floyd has had a quiet preseason, but he showed the Arizona Cardinals a taste of his abilities with a leaping, juggling touchdown catch against the Denver Broncos. It's understandable to be down on the Cardinals right now, but Floyd could change everything if he can be the ying to Larry Fitzgerald's yang.

»Cleveland Browns quarterback Seneca Wallace outplayed Colt McCoy against the Chicago Bears. It's easy to assume Wallace could be cut, but he's also a Mike Holmgren favorite. He's been with Holmgren in Seattle and now Cleveland since 2005.

»St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford found his rhythm this preseason and finished 11-of-16 passes for 175 yards and three touchdowns against the Baltimore Ravens. Healthy ankle, healthy franchise.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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