Watching preseason football is kind of like choking your chicken. It’s fun and it feels good – but it’s not quite the same as the real thing.
However, it’s a necessary evil.
The boys need practice after a long offseason and a few weeks to knock the rust off their boots helps to prevent a slew of fumbles, errant passes and bad decisions come time for the regular season.
The real deal is coming soon – but for the time being here are nine action items worth mentioning from our first set of practice games.
Aussie Rugby League star sizzles in NFL debut
I’m not choosing to lead with this story just because I write for an Australian sports site. Across the pond us Yanks are following the intriguing story of Jarryd Hayne, too.
When it’s no small feat to switch positions at the top level, Hayne’s quest to change sports altogether is beyond gutsy.
Preseason or not, his 53-yard run was a head-turner and proof positive that dude’s skills absolutely translate.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) August 16, 2015
Ameer Abdullah could be a game-changer for the Lions
So far the 54th overall selection from this year’s draft is by far the most impressive rookie back from the 2015 crop. He rushed for 67 yards on just seven carries, including a 45-yard scamper.
Detroit’s defensive coordinator Teryl Austin unleashed a boatload of praise for Ameer, noting the difficulties his squad has had tackling #21 in practice.
Skins’ starting TE out for season
& just like that, it was taken from me
— Niles Paul (@Niles_Paul84) August 14, 2015
Every coach’s preseason fears are the same: losing a starter to injury during a game that doesn’t even count.
Niles Paul is likely out for the season after dislocating his ankle and suffering ligament damage.
Not a good sign for a team struggling to climb back into contention.
Ryan Tannehill poised to make the leap to stardom
Ryan Tannehill has quietly had an incredible start to his NFL career. If fellow draft-class star Russell Wilson wasn’t out there playing in the Super Bowl two out of his first three seasons we’d be hearing a lot more about #17 and how he’s the best thing to happen to the Dolphins since Marino retired.
Tannehill engineered a 14-play, 85-yard touchdown drive to start the game on Thursday with 6 of 8 passing and a 2-yard scoring strike to Jarvis Landry. The only thing that will prevent this fourth-year QB from taking his team to the playoffs is the fact that the AFC East is probably the league’s toughest division heading into 2015. The World Champion Patriots aside, both the Bills and Jets look much improved (albeit with issues under center).
Melvin Gordon says it best
Six carries. Eleven yards.
The Bolts’ rookie running back understands well that his first showing on the big stage stunk like a giant pile of doggie doo.
— NFL (@NFL) August 14, 2015
San Diego fans are still riding high, though, as the team just announced a four-year extension for Philip Rivers. The new deal guarantees $65million for Rivers and will likely keep the quarterback in a Chargers uniform for the rest of his career.
Bengals to feature plenty of run support for the ‘Red Rocket’
We all know the story of Andy Dalton. Stellar regular seasons and a host of dud performances in the playoffs.
If Cincinnati’s run-fest on Friday is any indication we could see a much more balanced attack out of the Bengals in 2015.
Sure, Cincy already ranked sixth in rushing offense in 2014 (134.2 ypg) but with such depth at RB, Marvin Lewis could be transitioning into a run-first attack to take some of the pressure off Dalton to do it all.
The Bengals piled up 225 yards against the NY Giants with an incredible seven different players busting runs of 10+ yards. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are on a quest to prove two top-tier runners can share a backfield.
Tyler Lockett looks to be game-changer for Seattle
All up the Hawks looked a bit flat in their loss at home to the Denver Broncos.
Then again, we’re talking about a game where most of the big names were wearing street clothes.
But one player turned plenty of heads.
Seahawks 103 yard kick return for a TD http://t.co/KkXsoO5pu0
— Best of Football (@BestsofFootball) August 15, 2015
Lockett hopes to fill the role Percy Harvin never did. A dangerous speedster who can break big plays on offense and bust game changing returns on special teams.
Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota fail to impress
We’re not going to make mountains out of mole hills here as rookie QBs are “supposed to” turn the ball over in their first outing – but neither hyped-up signal-caller did anything to make us believe the Bucs or Titans will go .500 in 2015.
Both QBs did settle down after rocky starts, though. So we’re not throwing the baby out with the bathwater by any means.
Carson Palmer goes 4-for-4 in return to action
Remember when the Cardinals were 9-1 and riding high atop the NFC West?
Carson Palmer is hoping for a repeat performance in 2015 as his team’s only shot at dethroning Seattle rides on #3’s repaired ACL.
So far so good in the desert.
Welcome back Carson Palmer. He leads the Cardinals to a TD in first action since tearing his ACL on 11/9/14. pic.twitter.com/OHbpCQeq6O
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) August 16, 2015