We’re halfway there. Halfway through the meaningless preseason games and now the best week of games before we’re tracking records is upon us. Further down the rosters there were some intriguing performances for the NFC South.
Dolphins @ Buccaneers
Tanner Hudson Continues Form
After a solid preseason week one, Hudson starred once again, topping the Buccaneers’ receiving charts with 93 yards from six receptions and a touchdown. Hudson only missed out on one target and looks a solid option. The problem is, sitting behind OJ Howard and Cameron Brate at Tight End, how many regular season targets will Hudson see? If there isn’t room, will Tampa look to deal him for draft picks or defensive help?
Ryan Griffin Secures Backup Role
Griffin may be third on the depth chart but maybe not for long. The Bucs third stringer put in a strong display (14/21 for 201 yards, 1 touchdown) as Blaine Gabbert struggled (5/12 for 42 yards), leaving the former Jags QB needing to step up over the next two weeks to preserve his spot on the roster. With question marks over Jameis Winston in his fifth season, who looked solid in very limited action, this is a coveted backup role in Bruce Arians’ high power offence.
Bills @ Panthers
Jermaine Carter Stars, Obada on Show Too
Carter was the top tackler for the Panthers, playing at Inside Linebacker. The sophomore pro had seven tackles as he looks to earn time alongside Luke Kuechly in the starting lineup. It will take more performances like this, particularly coming up in preseason week three to replace Shaq Thompson but after Carolina’s defensive collapse in 2018, Ron Rivera will be looking for fresh faces to inject energy. On that note, Brit Efe Obada had four total tackles as he looks to earn opportunities on the edge in subpackages.
Receiving Options Looking Bleak
Of course it is only preseason and the starting receivers barely featured, but the Panthers biggest weakness is out wide. They hit 13 receivers on 22 targets for just 185 yards. Inaccuracy won’t have helped the receivers with 20 incompletions but only one receiver topped 30 yards. When DJ Moore, Chris Hogan and Curtis Samuel get more involved, not to mention Cam Newton rather than the Panthers’ indifferent backups, this might change but it is something Norv Turner needs to address before week one.
Saints @ Chargers
Hill Bounces Back
After a tough first week of the preseason, the roles were reversed in week 2, with Taysom Hill looking strong while Teddy Bridgewater struggled. The BYU alum was on good form, going 11-15 for 136 yards and two touchdowns, as Bridgewater struggled to 5-12 (40 yards). Once again Hill was the major rushing threat with 53 yards on five carries. Hill is shaping up to be the Swiss Army knife option once again for the Saints.
Elliss v Sankey Heats Up
One of the more intriguing camp battles or the Saints is at Middle Linebacker between Kaden Elliss and Darnell Sankey behind Alex Anzalone. Both had six total tackles with Elliss edging the battle against the Chargers with an extra solo tackle (four to three). The Saints defence looks strong and deep, whoever misses out will be snapped up quickly. That will reduce the pressure on Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas to star every week as the Saints look to challenge for a first round bye.
Image: Mark LoMoglio / AP Photo