Dynasty Preseason Game Blitz: Week Three, Part One


thompkinsPreseason games, heck why do we even watch them?  For myself, it’s the thrill of football back on the television.  These games are somewhat important as we get clues on what NFL teams are thinking with personnel groupings and the like.  Keep in mind that not every game or quarter is made equal.  Now that we are into the second full week of the preseason, I tend to watch all the plays with the starters and the first series with the backups.  I will spend a little time on each game and give you some quick interpretations with what I’m seeing.  My focus will be on some fringe players, first year starters, and the rookies.

Panthers vs. Ravens

Marlon Brown, WR BAL
The 6′ 5″ free agent rookie certainly shined in prime time.  Brown fully extended out to catch the ball, found soft spots in the zone coverage and demonstrated good body control.  He split two defenders for a 20+ yard touchdown with the starters. Keep an eye out for the latest depth chart.

Ted Ginn, WR/KR CAR
This might have been the last hurrah for the former first rounder.  While he impressed on his long punt return, showing great vision and anticipation, Ginn looked like he has slowed a step coming back to the ball on pass routes.

Bernard Pierce, RB BAL
It was a mixed night for the second year back.  Pierce gets low, runs hard and keeps churning his feet.  He isn’t the most patient runner as he tends to force himself right behind his linemen, not letting the play develop.  There appears to be a concentration issue for him to catch passes as he tends to look the ball into his hands.  Right after Pierce fumbled the ball and it was returned for a touchdown, the coaching staff kept him in the game.

Dallas Clark, TE BAL
The old man looked rusty.  Clark had issues concentrating and seemed to be running a step too slow.  Leave him on waivers.

Patriots vs. Lions

Kenbrell Thompkins, WR NE
This was the game where the rookie stood out in the passing game, but not so much in the running game. Thompkins struggles at blocking, which could become a factor quickly given the health of the rest of the Patriots receivers. He did get good separation, made a few nice bucket catches near the sideline, broke out a spin move and looked like Brady’s first read with Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski not on the field.  He needs to do a better job catching the ball with his hands, instead of his body.

Zach Sudfeld, TE NE
What a difference a week makes. Sudfeld lined up in the slot, made a good catch in traffic and got the ball knocked out.  I saw no sign of him after that early play.

Joique Bell, RB DET
The fourth year running back looked almost as explosive as Reggie Bush. Bell has good vision, uses his soft hands well, runs physically and possesses fantastic balance.  Detroit will use him lined up in the slot as well. By the way, he is the handcuff to Bush, not Mikel Leshoure.

Rob Ninkovich, DE NE
The defensive end was a beast as he was everywhere.  Ninkovich applied pressure in the passing game, chased several runs down the line of scrimmage and, at times, down the field.  He refused to give up on plays and did a good job getting his hands up to interrupt the passing lanes.

Aaron Dobson, WR NE
He looked like a rookie at times as he fought the ball into his hands and got outhustled going back for the ball on another play.  The thing is, Tom Brady did not lose faith in Dobson as he continued to target him and the rookie rebounded with some nice catches in the second quarter.

Patrick Edwards, WR DET
With no Calvin Johnson on the field, the Lions tried to use Edwards in the red zone – he did next to nothing there.  On another target, it was clear he heard footsteps as he could not concentrate on the ball. He seems to be most effective with short routes and may struggle to see time in the regular season.

Seahawks vs. Packers

Luke Willson, TE SEA
He did well in the blocking game, got good separation and shielded defenders from the ball.  Willson reminds me a bit of teammate Zach Miller in this regard.

Jermaine Kearse, WR SEA
After a great week, he was in the starting lineup, but came back down to earth just as quickly. He runs crisp routes, catches the ball out front and blocks two defenders at a time if you let him.

Robert Turbin, RB SEA
The second year back runs smooth, glides off tacklers and reads his blocks well. Turbin got destroyed by OLB Clay Matthews in pass coverage, so despite his soft hands, he might get bounced from a third down back role.

Eddie Lacy, RB GB
The rookie’s best running play was one called back for holding.  I saw a strong, low to the ground back who can’t create a crease on his own.  Lacy looked good as a pass protector, but got caught up in the trash that is the NFL’s line of scrimmage.  If he wants to look like himself in college, Lacy will need to pick up his feet and commit to an angle.

Christine Michael, RB SEA
He ran angry with good vision as he anticipates where his blocker will be. Michael showed burst on his 43-yard touchdown run along with quick feet and the willingness to run through a tackle.

Bears vs. Raiders

Alshon Jeffery, WR CHI
It looked like the second year receiver switched jersey numbers with Brandon Marshall.  Jeffery was physical running routes, manhandling the defensive backs.  He was willing to go low for the ball, fully extended to make catches and spun out of harms way a few times.  If Jeffery can keep Cutler’s attention, he just might finish with better than 70 receptions this season.

Michael Bush, RB CHI
He is back to the powerful, goal line back role as he runs low to the ground and follows what is blocked.  If you don’t own Forte, don’t bother with him.

Terrelle Pryor, QB OAK
He is a raw athletic prospect that looked like he wanted the starting job against the Bears.  Pryor has a very strong arm that he occasionally struggles to control.  He was moving around in the pocket with ease, buying more time down the field and he made an accurate jump throw over the defensive line that was on a rope to a well-covered wide receiver.  Matt Flynn, I think you just lost another starting job.

Bills vs. Redskins

Roy Helu, RB WAS
He is clearly the second running back option in Washington.  He started off with a beautiful bucket catch on a wheel route for a long gain.  Helu glides off tacklers, shows a good stutter step to freeze the defense and rarely takes a direct hit.  It’s Shanahan, so get Helu if you can – late or cheap.

Robert Woods, WR BUF
The rookie was doing a better job of catching the ball out in front of him.  Woods is a smooth route runner who can break out a spin move once in a while.

TJ Graham, WR BUF
The second year receiver was targeted multiple times deep down the field. On those routes, Graham showed great speed and good body control while drawing two pass interference calls against the defense.

Pat White, QB WAS
The former college star looked comfortable filling in for RG3.  I had to do a double take on his long touchdown scramble down the sideline. White has decent arm strength and is at home running a read option offense.  If he doesn’t stay with Washington, expect his phone to ring.

Aldrick Robinson, WR WAS
The second year receiver has a good stutter step, catches the ball in stride and is a good deep threat for the Redskins behind Pierre Garcon.  Robinson should overtake Santana Moss at some point in the season as their WR3.

Rams vs. Broncos

Ronnie Hillman, RB DEN
The second year back was targeted a little more in the passing game. Hillman is a one cut and go runner who can get small in the hole.  He needs to do a better job holding onto the ball as it got stripped and returned for a touchdown; however, Hillman was back with the first team after the fumble.

Tavon Austin, WR/KR STL
The first rounder was electric in the return game.  Austin has great vision and lateral agility along with breakaway speed. Hopefully the rookie will learn not to point out defenders to his blockers, but the superstar talent is there.

Monte Ball, RB DEN
The rookie has quicker feet than I thought.  Ball runs with power and is more of a straight ahead runner.  There were times he just blindly followed his o-line when there was nothing to gain.  As the game went on, Ball got stronger, which is a good sign for his future.

Jared Cook, TE STL
The fifth year tight end looks rejuvenated as he impressed with a spectacular jump catch in the end zone.  Cook demonstrated good speed and physicality that was more like a wide receiver than a tight end.

Alec Ogletree, LB STL
The rookie was busy as he forced a Hillman fumble and returned it for a touchdown.  Ogletree backed up that with excellent pass coverage as he intercepted a seam pass intended for Julius Thomas.  He is looking like a three down force at linebacker beside James Laurinaitis.

Look for Part Two later in the week.

For follow-up questions or information, contact me on twitter @AndrewMiley.