Conclusions from the NFL pre season are limited due to the absence of stars and vanilla schemes employed by coaches so as to keep their secrets for the regular season. With that being said there are some performances that stood out.
One of the most impressive performers from Week 1 of the pre-season is no longer in the AFC North. Kaare Vedvik was injured in 2018 but did excel in the pre season that year. Continuing where he left of the kicker booted all 4 of his attempts over the posts, including a 55-yarder! With the Ravens sorted at kicker they were able to turn this performance into a fifth-round pick in a trade with the Vikings. Not a bad return from an undrafted player.
Not to be outdone Steelers’ rookie linebacker Devin Bush put on a tackling clinic! The Steelers moved up to snag Bush with the tenth pick in the first round and if his first action was anything to go by the investment was worth it. Bush flew around the field like The Flash as he collected 10 tackles against Tampa Bay as the ran out 30-28 winners. He also called the plays in the huddle, an achievement in itself given the complexity of NFL defenses.
There was more good news for the Steelers too. James Washington, a disappointing afterthought in 2018, accounted for 84 yards on 4 receptions including a touchdown catch.
Ravens Offense Struggles
Last year the Ravens offense did enough for the team to make the playoffs. Against a Jaguars team that had nearly 30 players absent (rested or injured) the Lamar Jackson lead Ravens struggled. Jackson completed 4 of his 6 attempted passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. Despite the 29-0 victory, the offensive revolution in Baltimore clearly hasn’t started yet. Especially considering only 6 of their 29 points (Jackson’s touchdown) came from the offense.
Wilson Shows Skills
The Browns were dominant in their 30-10 win over Dwayne Haskins and the Washington Redskins. While Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense started with a bang it was Cleveland Browns rookie linebacker, Mack Wilson, stood out in the team’s emphatic win against. Wilson collected a pair of interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He also added 3 tackles.
From Gym Floor to Touchdown Star
Perhaps the most inspiring story of the week was that of Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi. If the name is unfamiliar that’s to be expected. The receiver had been sleeping outside 24 hour gyms and basically blagged his way into the Browns facility in order to try out. That’s only the start of the story though. Once there he ran a returns a 4.38-second 40-yard dash which got him into a Browns uniform. From there he took advantage of his opportunity by returning a punt 86 yards for a TD. Even if he doesn’t make the Browns roster putting plays like that on tape will get him noticed by GMs around the league.
The Browns will be without Antonio Callaway for four games as the receiver serves a 4 game suspension. His replacement may already be on the roster. Rashard Higgins, a fourth-year receiver, hauled in five of his six targets for 98 receiving yards and a touchdown. His If Higgins can continue to play at this level he’s likely to see more targets from star quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Optimism for Bengals Offense
Under Marvin Lewis the Bengals offense rarely excelled, even with the likes of AJ Green and Joe Mixon. New head coach Zac Taylor comes with an impressive offensive pedigree. It was encouraging therefore to see Andy Dalton conducting a long draft in his only pre-season action. The 14-play, 7:15-long touchdown drive to begin the Bengals’ preseason opener. Despite the 38-17 loss the Bengals offense is cause optimism.
While Dalton played well in his limited time Jeff Driskel was underwhelming. Jeff Driskel completed just 8 of 19 passes for 79 yards and an interception. This was compounded by the relatively impressive performance of rookie Ryan Finley. Finley completed 13 of 18 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. While Finley did throw an interception his performance was encouraging and I’d like to see what he can do with the second string offense.
Photo from Mlive.com
As an added bonus anyone who hasn’t already must check out England’s own Christian Wade. What a way to take advantage of your first touch. Who stood out for you? Let me know @Cumbleton.