NFL

Preseason Standouts: Week 1

*I will preface this article by saying that all this is, is a list and commentary on some of the statistical performers of preseason week one. This list and the order of the list have nothing to do with how likely the players are to make the 53-man roster of their team, how likely they will start, etc.*

  • Tyrod Taylor, QB, Cleveland Browns
    • How to keep the starting job from the number one overall pick? Go 5 for 5 with 99 yards and a touchdown. Taylor showed command of the offense and poise in the pocket along with impressive accuracy. He looks like exactly what he was said to be: an extremely efficient passer with decent running ability who doesn’t create very many big plays.
  • Teddy Bridgewater, QB, New York Jets
    • Bridgewater looked great, not only for a quarterback who hasn’t played for significant time in two years, but just generally impressive. 7 for 8, 85 yards and a touchdown aren’t bad in general, but in addition to dealing with his injury, this was Bridgewater’s first season in New York, so he had to learn the entire offense this off-season. If he continues this caliber of play, he may compete with Sam Darnold for the Jets’ starting job.
  • Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
    • The aforementioned number one overall pick also shined in his debut for the Browns. Considered the most pro-ready quarterback in the class, Mayfield went 11 for 20 with 212 yards and 2 touchdowns. While Taylor has essentially been crowned the starter since before Mayfield arrived, the former Heisman winner has a chance to play his way into a starting competition.
  • Cody Kessler, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
    • For all the complaining there was about Blake Bortles, there was very little talk about the acquisition of Kessler from the Browns. That may change after he went 14 for 17 for 139 yards and a touchdown. Kessler is the opposite of incumbent starter Blake Bortles, which is clearly a breath of fresh air for Jaguars fans.
  • Taysom Hill, QB, New Orleans Saints
    • Hills passing stats were impressive, but not standout. 8 for 9, 72 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions. However, the dual-threat Hill also had 52 yards on 7 carries with a touchdown. Should Drew Brees retire at season’s end, Sean Payton could have some fun working with an athlete such as Hill. Plus, he showed enough poise to help the Saints to a clutch fourth-quarter comeback.
  • Ryan Nall, RB, Chicago Bears
    • Nall was one of the surprises of training camp for the Bears, posting 16 attempts for 108 yards and 6.8 yards per carry in the first preseason game. That included a 69-yard run that put Nall’s big-play ability fully on display.
  • Chris Warren, RB, Oakland Raiders
    • Warren is making a strong case to be on the 53-man roster with his work in training camp through the first preseason game. He put up 13 attempts for 86 yards and 6.6 yards per carry. Those aren’t outstanding stats, but if you look closer, he also had 5 runs of 10 or more yards. That consistent playmaking delivered him a strong performance this week.
  • Jeremy Hill, RB, New England Patriots
    • Talk about making an impression! In Hill’s first preseason game with the Patriots after being signed away from the Cincinnati Bengals in the off-season, he carried the ball 11 times for 51 yards and a touchdown. Maybe not elite numbers, but definitely enough to make an early impression in a crowded Patriots’ backfield.
  • Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos
    • Freeman showed why there was so much discussion around him in training camp. With only 4 carries, he managed to grind out 38 yards for nearly 10 yards per carry, and a touchdown. A great start for the former Oregon star, and it might be enough to give him an edge over Devontae Booker.
  • Marquez Valdez-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers
    • As the only receiver of preseason week one with 100 yards, Valdez-Scantling is possibly the biggest standout receiver of the week. With 5 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, Valdez-Scantling is perhaps looking to separate himself from the group of 8 receivers fighting for the backup spots behind Randall Cobb, Devante Adams, and Geronimo Allison.
  • Antonio Callaway, WR, Cleveland Browns
    • Callaway was a serious steal in terms of on-field talent. A fourth-round pick, he has already played his way into the starting lineup in Cleveland. In his first preseason game, he showed why. 3 receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown, including a 54-yard touchdown catch. Callaway is already showing his highly-touted big-play potential, now he just has to develop as a more consistent threat on shorter routes.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • Smith-Schuster was one of the huge surprises of last season, as he quickly emerged as a consistent second-option for Ben Roethlisberger while pushing Martavis Bryant down the depth chart. In the first preseason game of his sophomore season, Smith-Schuster had a 71-yard touchdown in very limited playing time.
  • David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
    • This off-season, the development of the Browns’ receivers, including Njoku, has been considered very important for new quarterbacks Taylor(above) and Mayfield(above). With the development of Callaway(above) into a starter, that has appeared to leave Njoku out. However, in the Browns’ first preseason game, he started to show some of the playmaking potential that made him a first-round pick last year. With two receptions for 46 yards, both for touchdowns, he showed a nose for the end zone that can be so dominant for tight ends such as Njoku.
  • Jordan Akins, TE, Houston Texans
    • With two receptions for 20 yards and 2 touchdowns, Akins, like Njoku, showed coveted red-zone skills in his first preseason game this season. While appearing tied for the second string with Jordan Thomas on the Texans’ first depth chart, this game along with a strong rest-of-the-preseason may give him an edge over Thomas, or maybe even a chance to start over Ryan Griffin.
  • Daniel Brown, TE, Chicago Bears
    • Brown had, in my opinion, the best performance among tight ends in preseason week one, despite not having a single touchdown. He did, however, have 5 catches for 90 yards, including one 56-yard catch. Brown has the potential to turn into a quality vertical-threat tight end for the Bears.
  • Cap Capi, DL, Arizona Cardinals
    • I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about Capi before this week. But a three-sack performance, even in a preseason game, can get your name out there. Capi, a 26-year-old speed rusher, has been dominant all training camp and continued that into the first preseason game with a forced fumble as well as the three sacks.
  • Hassan Ridgeway, DL, Indianapolis Colts
    • Ridgeway, in his third season, has had a solid training camp to go with a dominating preseason game. At 317 lbs., Ridgeway doesn’t have prototypical size for a pass rusher, but he still put up 2 sacks in his first preseason game of this season.
  • Rasheem Green, DL, Seattle Seahawks
    • Green, starting his first preseason game due to injuries, had a sack and a half, to go with 7 tackles in his first NFL game. Green could be competing for a starting job with Dion Jordan if he continues his strong preseason.
  • Kamalei Correa, LB, Baltimore Ravens
    • Correa continued a so-far solid training camp with three sacks in his first two preseason games. Correa, a third-year player out of Boise State, appears to be finally finding his niche as an edge-rushing outside linebacker for Baltimore.
  • Jay Elliott, LB, New Orleans Saints
    • Elliott, a fifth-year player signed from the Cowboys in free agency, had 2.5 sacks and 5 tackles along with 2 forced fumbles in his first game with the Saints. He is looking to compete with Hau’oli Kikaha and A.J. Klein for the starting strongside linebacker job.
  • Kyle Fuller, CB, Chicago Bears
    • Fuller, in limited playing time, posted a pick-six and two deflections in the first preseason game. Fuller is looking to pair up with Prince Amukamara, Eddie Jackson, and Adrian Amos to provide the Bears with a dominating defensive back group.
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