The NFL Preseason is underway, and names across each franchise have made an early impact. Whether it’s a rookie or veteran, here is one standout player through the first week of preseason football:
Arizona Cardinals: Defensive Unit
Sparking 8 turnovers is impressive, but doing so against a patient offense like the Dallas Cowboys was icing on the cake for Arizona. In the mix there were 5 fumble recoveries and 3 interceptions, as the Cardinals defensive unit looked impressive throughout Sunday night.
Atlanta Falcons: Tevin Coleman, RB
As Devonta Freeman continues to sit out of preseason action, Tevin Coleman has been impressing the coaching staff. With a total of 48 yards in his limited time, Coleman will be utilized in a similar role this year in comparison to 2017. As long as Matt Ryan can find his rhythm, the Falcons are poised for a successful season.
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB
Lamar Jackson was making plays all over the field for the Baltimore Ravens during his last preseason game against the Miami Dolphins in a 27-10 rout. Jackson has the ability to make plays with both his accurate arm and quick feet, thus putting even more pressure on the assumed-starter Joe Flacco to perform.
Buffalo Bills: Nathan Peterman, QB
Peterman did pretty much everything he needed to do in order to leapfrog Josh Allen in the quarterback competition for the Bills. Allen, on the other hand, has looked like a wasted draft pick in these early preseason games. Peterman finished the game 16-21 for 200 passing yards and a touchdown.
Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB
Once again, Christian McCaffrey has looked like the centerpiece in Carolina’s offense. With a new offensive coordinator in Norv Turner, McCaffrey could very well be primed for a career season. As long as Newton stops taking crushing hits at the wrong moments, fans should be excited about the Panthers.
Chicago Bears: Kevin White, WR
While many have written off Kevin White awhile ago, he has been efficient in the preseason. In his limited action against the Kansas City Chiefs, he reeled in his only 2 targets for 34 yards and a touchdown. White won’t be a large contributor in 2018, but still has enough potential to make an impact.
Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton, QB
Dalton got a hero’s welcome as he made his first appearance in Buffalo after sending the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs in 2017 indirectly by defeating the Baltimore Ravens in week 17. Dalton also looked the part of a hero as he threw for two touchdowns, and was accurate as well, with 11-16 in completions.
Cleveland Browns: Defensive Unit
Pitching a shutout over the defending Philadelphia Eagles is no small feat, considering how explosive the offense looked last season. However, that’s exactly what Cleveland was able to accomplish, as they made Nick Foles look incredibly average. The defense collected four turnovers, as well as a safety, as they embarrassed the champs 5-0.
Dallas Cowboys: Cooper Rush, QB
For someone competing with Mike White as the backup to Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush seemed “off” in week three against the Arizona Cardinals. Posting a 39.2 QBR while tossing 2 interceptions only makes Dallas fans pray that Prescott is able to play a full season in healthy conditions.
Denver Broncos: Emmanuel Sanders, WR
Emmanuel Sanders was another player who was flying all over the field on Friday night against the Washington Redskins. He caught four passes for 61 yards, including an outstanding 33-yard reception. His lone touchdown came on a run in the backfield for a 27-yard scamper into the end zone.
Detroit Lions: Offensive Line
For the first time this preseason, an offensive line really stood out. In this case, the Detroit Lions offensive line lacked unity. Allowing Matt Stafford to get sacked 3 times against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be somewhat worrisome to the offense. Through three games, the offensive line has allowed 11 sacks. In 2017, the Lions allowed the third-most sacks in the regular season with 47.
Green Bay Packers: Reggie Gilbert, LB
After a minor season with Green Bay in 2017, Reggie Gilbert looked like the defensive piece the Packers needed in week three of the preseason. With 4 tackles, including one sack, Gilbert is aware that playing time will not be handed to him. Placed behind the likes of Clay Matthews, Blake Martinez, and rookie Oren Burks, there may be a gap he can squeeze into later this year.
Houston Texans: Brandon Dunn, DT
Dunn was getting things done for the Texans defensive line as he made four run-stopping tackles against the high-powered Rams. His aggressiveness with getting to the quarterback and clogging holes in the running game as well was enough to impressive the coaching staff.
Indianapolis Colts: Eric Ebron, TE
Andrew Luck’s new favorite target, Eric Ebron, was a busy man against the San Francisco 49ers. He ended up catching 5 passes for 54 yards, including a TD grab. Luck will rely early and often on Ebron as he eases back into playing at the full speed of the NFL.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB
Fournette appeared to be in mid-season form against the Atlanta Falcons, as he ran for 57 yards on 10 carries. His impressive day also included a touchdown run, as he is looking motivated to help the Jaguars repeat their postseason success from 2017.
Kansas City Chiefs: Tyreek Hill, WR
Tyreek Hill was catching passes all over the field (8 completions to be exact), and appeared to be ready for all comers on the defensive front. His longest completion was a 28-yard pass from Patrick Mahomes, who was also looking ready for “prime time”. Time will tell if Mahomes has the ability to lead the Chiefs to as many victories as Alex Smith did in 2017.
Los Angeles Rams: John Kelly, RB
Once again, the Rams rested almost all of their starters and John Kelly was the name that stood out most. Totaling 64 yards on the ground, Kelly found the end zone twice against the Houston Texans. While Todd Gurley will see a heavy volume of reps, Los Angeles should be confident in their backup situation at this given moment.
Los Angeles Chargers: Austin Ekeler, RB
On a night where the Chargers did not have much going for them offensively, Austin Ekeler was a lone star shining bright. He carried the rock only 6 times, but had an astounding 8.3 yards per carry, as he collected a total of 50 yards from scrimmage. Philip Rivers and crew will be happy to see Ekeler as a nice change of pace back this season.
Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB
Tannehill continued to impress against the Baltimore Ravens, as he makes his way back from the devastating ACL tear from the 2017 campaign. His night in Miami only found 5 passes dropping to the turf, as he completed 11 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins, QB
For a quarterback making $22.5 million in 2018, Kirk Cousins has looked surprisingly underwhelming. Through three preseason games, Cousins has tossed 1 TD and has maintained a completion percentage of 60%. As the Vikings fill up their injury report, Cousins will once again be the main factor to the success of this franchise.
New England Patriots: Riley McCarron, WR
The rookie out of the University of Iowa looked incredibly quick against the Carolina Panthers. McCarron caught four passes for 49 yards, and looked very much in sync with the quarterbacks in the supposed “dress rehearsal” game for the regular season. He looks like a possible surprise rising star to watch this 2018 season.
New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore, CB
The Defensive Rookie of the Year was impressive against the Los Angeles Chargers, as he led the defense with 5 tackles. There were some who worried Lattimore may lose a step over the offseason, given his success, but he has maintained his poise throughout the preseason.
New York Giants: Eli Manning, QB
After a mediocre outing in week one of preseason, the veteran bounced back in week three against the New York Jets. Completing 17-23 passes for 188 yards, Manning played a clean overall game, which is what the front office needs. If he continues this trend during the regular season, the Giants will remain competitive in the NFC East.
New York Jets: Darron Lee, LB
Lee, the third-year linebacker out of Ohio State University, was making plays all over the field. He ended up with 6 total tackles, and although he did not collect a sack, he provided consistent pressure on the quarterbacks. Lee could be a star for this Jets defensive unit.
Oakland Raiders: Chris Warren, RB
Chris Warren looked solid in Jon Gruden’s offense. He carried the ball 15 times for 54 yards, including a touchdown run. This running back could eventually become the starter for the Raiders’ offensive unit down the road.
Philadelphia Eagles: Corey Graham, DB
In a game where the Philadelphia Eagles failed to put up any points against the Cleveland Browns, there were hardly any bright spots. As for now, Corey Graham wins the honor by default, totaling 7 tackles in his playing time. The Eagles are notorious for their solid defense, but should be worried about their lack of offense without Carson Wentz under center.
Pittsburgh Steelers: James Conner, RB
Although James Conner did not find much success in the running game against the Titans defense (10 carries for 18 yards), he was able to take his talents to the passing game. Conner caught 6 passes out of the backfield for 52 yards, so if he can find more holes in the running game, expect for him to become a fantasy sleeper.
San Francisco 49ers: Alfred Morris, RB
In his debut with the San Francisco 49ers, Alfred Morris looked awfully impressive. With 17 carries for 84 yards, it included a mix of consistency and outbreaks. If Jerick McKinnon fails to take over the starting role, perhaps Morris will be the next man in line for the position.
Seattle Seahawks: Brandon Marshall, WR
In his limited time against the Minnesota Vikings, Brandon Marshall looked like his old self temporarily. With 3 receptions for 34 yards, Marshall had an impressive catch for 20 yards in the mix. It would be foolish to believe Marshall could be the centerpiece in Seattle, but he may be serviceable at the very least.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Peyton Barber, RB
Three games into preseason, Barber has made a convincing case to become the starting running back of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Averaging 5.8 YPC, Barber has also scored twice. While Ronald Jones was a supposed factor, he is averaging a mere 1.0 YPC in the same time frame.
Tennessee Titans: Anthony Firkser, WR
Anthony Firkser, a rookie out of Harvard University, looked comfortable in the Tennessee offensive routes. He caught 5 passes for 68 yards, including a very impressive route ran for a touchdown score.
Washington Redskins: Adrian Peterson, RB
Coming into his debut with the Washington Redskins, all eyes were on veteran running back Adrian Peterson, and he did not disappoint. With 11 carries for 56 yards, Peterson made a commanding statement for the starting position in Washington’s backfield. At the age of 33, it will be interesting to see whether Peterson’s durability allows him to play 16+ games potentially in 2018.