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Here it is, another week of NFL preseason games.  Hopefully your fantasy football players are more involved this week, so we might get a better idea about how each team will look like in the regular season.  It’s critical to keep up with the NFL clowneychanging landscape, because it gives you a jump on the waiver wire and possible trade scenarios.  My efforts concentrated on the younger players and/or new team additions.  Here are some quick observations based on around the first three-quarters of each game:

Falcons vs Texans

The hype train led by HBO’s Hard Knocks and most of the fantasy community including myself is cooling in regards to rookie running back Devonta Freeman.  He was the fourth member of the Atlanta backfield to show up.  Sure he looks more productive against his competition, but then again much of the defense he played against won’t be in the league.  The back got three snaps in the first half and one of those was for a kneel down play.  The young player who is for real is second year inside backer, Paul Worrilow.  He flows quickly to the ball, decoding the play almost instantaneously.  Worrilow plays the run a little better than the pass, hits hard, and holds his own in pass coverage.

The monster known as Jadeveon Clowney made his presence felt against the Falcons first team offense.  He anticipates where the ball is flowing, gets there before the offense, and strikes.  His combination of vision, speed, and power is uncanny.  Arian Foster owners take note, there are two backs that are vying for his scraps or an injury to him.  Jonathan Grimes runs with power and balance.  He is the steady back that has a little penance using a spin move or snaring a ball out of the air with his soft hands.  The rookie Albert Blue gets lower and is much more explosive.  The problem with Blue is that he doesn’t have the patience for the blocking scheme yet.  Ever since Mobile, rookie tight CJ Fiedorowicz keeps growing on me.  He is a good blocker who is always on the field and sneaks out for passes.  Considering the uncertainty at quarterback, the tight ends and backs might be the most popular offensive weapons. 

Steelers vs Bills

It wasn’t surprising to see EJ Manuel to continue to regress.  The second year signal caller seems to be immersed and confused once the ball gets snapped.  He overreacted to pressure and threw behind his receivers a lot.  Sammy Watkins got a target, then a hit to his mid-section, and proceeded to exit the game.  The Bills might be trying to get their money’s worth with CJ Spiller when they have him returning kickoffs.  He appears to have gotten more of his burst back, but too bad the Steelers have a Tasmanian devil named Shazier.

I am most noted as not being a Ohio State fan and I cannot stop gushing about Ryan Shazier’s first preseason game in a Steelers uniform. The rookie backer flew in every direction, wrapped up every tackle, covered backs and tight ends, and even played some special teams.  He stole the ball out of a tight end’s hands that had more height with good leverage and raced down the field for a nice return. The Steeler’s other rookie sensation, Dri Archer, loves himself some bubble screens.  So far this preseason, the young speedy running back breaks every other one for a substantial gain. Second year receiver Markus Wheaton showed great body control and concentration making a catch in the back of the end zone.

49ers vs. Broncos

The 49ers did not show much during this game with Frank Gore playing sparingly.  Rookie backup Carlos Hyde showed great vision, and patience power running inside.  It looks like he will continue his collegian role of letting defenses try to pick their position between Hyde and an athletic quarterback.  Reserve rookie receiver Bruce Ellington had a good game returning kickoffs with the starters and catching passes with the second team.  He has good footwork, makes precise cuts, and seems to glide around.  The receiver is willing to catch the ball in traffic and have the concentration to hold on.  Perhaps his time will come next season with Boldin a year older and Crabtree looking for a big contract.  Senior Bowl alum, linebacker Chris Borland, plays much better against the run than the pass.  He got exploited on a tight end post route that finished with a touchdown.

The battle for the backup job in Denver is up in the air.  Ronnie Hillman took what the defense gave him, but looks more like a third down back with his wiry build and soft hands.  Second year back, CJ Anderson, showed no ill effects of his concussion.  He made good cuts, ran hard and got low while scoring a short-yardage touchdown.  If Ball comes back slowly from his surgery,  I expect a full-blown committee with these two backs.  Rookie receiver Codi Latimer flashed with a beautiful bucket catch in the back on the end zone.  He does a good job contorting his body to the ball mid-air.

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