Knee-jerk reactions to week one of the NFL preseasonDate: August 14, 2019
By: Jorie Mickens
When it comes to the NFL preseason, you must take every performance with a grain of salt.
Starters may only play a single drive against a “vanilla” defensive scheme. It is difficult to distinguish who will maintain their play showcased in the preseason during the regular season. Preseason is all about the eye-test, nit-picking every throw, every route and every run. That said, there were a few rookies who were turning heads in their limited playing time during week one of the preseason.
The first player is number one overall pick and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray. Last Thursday, Murray got his first taste of NFL action against the Los Angeles Chargers. Murray started his only drive of the night on his own three-yard line and completed six of seven passes for 44 yards. Stats only tell part of the story though, Murray looked extremely comfortable standing in the pocket and got the ball off quickly and accurately.
There were three plays of Murray’s that really stood out, the first, a perfectly executed play-action play where Murray showed his ability to roll out while maintaining pinpoint accuracy on his throw. Murray completed an eight-yard pass to wide receiver Trent Sherfield on the sideline which also resulted in a first down.
The second play, Murray threw a beautiful sidearm screen pass to RB David Johnson around his own offensive lineman and a rushing defensive lineman. The last play, as the pocket broke down Murray rolled out, evaded two Chargers defenders and threw a bullet to rookie receiver KeeSean Johnson on the sideline.
The play was called back though for illegal touching. Murray will have the reins to this fast-paced, high-powered offense and fantasy owners should seriously consider taking Murray and his dual-threat abilities as a quarterback.
The next player that is flying under the radar but could make an immediate impact for his team is New England Patriots wide receiver N’Keal Harry. Harry is a 6-foot-4, 230-pound physical receiver out of Arizona State who has been compared to a young Dez Bryant.
Harry hardly played against the Lions and had backup quarterback Brian Hoyer throwing him the ball but, Harry had two great catches during his time on the field. The first came on a comeback route and made an athletic diving catch on the sideline for an 11-yard gain.
The second catch came on a go route where Harry rose up over the defensive back and hauled in a spectacular 25-yard grab. Harry limped off the field with an apparent leg injury after the catch but reports out of New England say it is nothing serious.
With Rob Gronkowski retired, Chris Hogan now on the Panthers and Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas and Cameron Meredith all injured, Harry has a serious shot of starting week one for the defending champions.
Tom Brady is entering his age-42 season and would greatly appreciate a receiver who can highpoint any ball thrown in his vicinity, Harry can be that guy. Currently going as the tenth pick in the ninth round, why not take a shot on the guy who could be a top option for Brady?
The last player that showed out in his preseason debut was Bears running back David Montgomery. The Bears already have one of the league’s best pass-catching running backs in Tarik Cohen, but David Montgomery looked special last Thursday night.
Montgomery was heavily utilized in the passing game and showed great balance in patience on every play. This should be taken lightly, there are flashes of Le’Veon Bell in Montgomery. He seems almost nonchalant when he receives the ball in the backfield, but he waits for gaps in the defense and uses his great agility to make defenders miss.
Last season, Cohen finished as the running back 11 while former Bears running back Jordan Howard finished as the running back 20. Howard is now in Philadelphia and there is reason to believe Montgomery could thrive in the two-running back system the Chicago Bears have in place.
Jorie Mickens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.