The NFL preseason is now over. Many younger and/or fringe players are fighting for roster spots on NFL and fantasy football teams as you read. We got slight glimpses into the thought pattern of some teams with how much or how little these athletes played and others we will never know. Here are my general thoughts about some of the more interesting younger players or free agents from the first half of their last preseason game.
Rams vs. Dolphins
The later the game, the leaner the talent is to find. With that being said, Miami rookie receiver Jarvis Landry keeps on getting better. He catches passes in traffic, and gets to the ball at its highest point. The former LSU wide out fights for extra yardage and uses his body to block the defensive back from getting to the ball. For the Rams, second year Stedman Bailey appears to be the best receiver on the Rams, despite his four game suspension. He runs crisp routes, looks to bail his quarterback out of trouble, and has a good catch radius. Shaun Hill will miss his calming presence over four games. Rookie runner, Tre Mason, isn’t close to taking carries away from Zach Stacy, Bennie Cunningham is clearly the better runner right now. Mason gets knocked around in pass protection, catches the ball with his body, and doesn’t seem to have a lot of lower body strength. That isn’t to say that the young back can’t get small in the hole and learn how to pass block well, but it isn’t going to be this year.
Colts vs. Bengals
This was rookie runner, Jeremy Hill’s coming out game. The back put up over 130 combined yards of offense rushing and receiving. Hill is a strong, powerful inside runner with limited vision. He has good acceleration in the hole, possesses good balance, and is explosive once the back hits the open field. Unlike most power-type backs, Hill catches the ball as well as his counterpart Gio Bernard. That will be quite beneficial as their usage will not tip-off defenses and each pass blocks well. Speaking of powerful players, former disc and shot put thrower Margus Hunt put on a three sack show against the Colts. The former Estonia citizen dominates at the point of attack, can throw blockers around like a rag doll, but sometimes gets off-balance at his huge size (6′ 8″ 290 lbs.) I expect him to be rotated in a lot more this season with Michael Johnson now in Tampa Bay. The only player of note on the Colts side was Dan “Boom” Herron. The former Bengal back has soft hands and quick feet. With only Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw in front of him, Herron is an interesting hold in deep dynasty leagues.
Eagles vs. Jets
This game is the worst I saw for fantasy relevance. Third string quarterback Matt Barkley rushed a lot of his throws and did not to set his feet for most of the game. The signal caller stared down most of his receivers, but had a few moments of clarity. Hopefully, you do not own him unless you are super 80 man plus leagues. New Eagles kicker Cody Parkey won the job on his performance and if you have read me at all, you know I love talking about kickers. There were no Jets players of note to comment on.
Cardinals vs. Chargers
Rookie quarterback Logan Thomas started the game. He is far from a finished product, but the young signal caller has a strong arm with a brick house body. Thomas doesn’t always make quick decisions and got caught in the pocket when he didn’t sense pressure. Sometimes the quarterback relies on his feet to run away from danger and forgets to set his feet before Thomas throws. Hopefully that will get coached out of him. It was nice to see rookie tight end Troy Niklas healthy and on the field. He got open in the middle of the field, caught the ball with his body, takes a good shot, spins out of it, and fights for extra yards. The Matthews blood lines are strong with him, so keep an eye on him. Rookie safety Deone Bucannon did a good job of watching the quarterback’s eyes and broke up a pass in the end zone. He is a strong tackler that likes to get physical. Unfortunately right now he is not playing an every down role yet, but I still expect that to happen before October. Speaking of waiting, second year linebacker, Kevin Minter, finally saw time in the preseason. He is more athletic than oldster Larry Foote, but Minter will probably play a two down role for the first couple months. For the Chargers, rookie back Marion Grice was the only player I noticed. Despite him being the third Charger runner to appear in the game, Grice is explosive and slippery. He has good vision, uses spin moves and jump cuts with amazing balance. But wait here’s the catch, the youngster is tall and skinny so once defenders get ahold of him, Grice typically gets smashed.
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