Three Impressive Preseason Rookie Performances
Though many will argue that their importance is minimal, preseason football games give fans a reason to get excited. Big name starters sit or play a few possessions before the bench warmers and "no-namers" start playing. One thing the preseason does is highlight rookie performances. It isn't important if Aaron Rodgers throws four touchdowns in a preseason game, but if a player like Marcus Mariota accomplished such a feat, fans and writers alike would lose their minds. Many rookies follow up with their preseason numbers, while others have impressive showings only to fall down the depth chart as the regular season approaches.
After week one of the preseason, let's take a look at the most impressive rookie performances:
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions RB:
Abdullah has been attracting hype all across the fantasy football world, especially after wild comparisons were made claiming that Abdullah has "Barry Sanders" speed. Abdullah had an impressive run in his first preseason outing, leaving Jets' defenders' heads spinning as he gained 45 yards on a speedy run. He finished the night with 7 carries for 67 yards, clearly a chunk of the yardage coming from the one carry. His runs highlighted his potential when he has the ball in his hands.
Without a big name running back on Detroit's roster, Abdullah could push for the starting gig, though he currently sits behind Theo Riddick who had a solid game himself. The Lions have two phenomenal receivers in Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, and a franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford. What they need is a running back that is better than Joique Bell and less injury prone than former Lion Reggie Bush. Abdullah is doing himself justice with the way he is running, and he can find himself atop the depth chart if he keeps it up.
Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles WR:
USC product Nelson Agholor's first NFL catch just happened to be a 34 yard touchdown catch-and-run. Agholor extended on the sideline to catch a "could-have-been-better" throw from Mark Sanchez and took it to the house for his first NFL 6. Agholor showed impressive breakaway speed, turning around after catching the ball and beating several Colts defenders with his feet to score.
The Eagles lost their best receiver in Jeremy Maclin at the end of the 2014 season, as sides failed to come to agreements on a new contract. With that, all that was left was uncertainty. Jordan Matthews had a decent rookie year, but aside from him there were no true prospects. Enter first round pick Agholor. While preseason might not be a telltale sign of greatness, it doesn't hurt to see Agholor making plays. He could secure himself the spot as the Eagles number 2 option, especially with a weak performance from Riley Cooper.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks WR:
This is a low-key name compared to the aforementioned names on this list. Lockett had huge plays for the Seahawks on the special teams end. He returned 4 kickoffs, including one that went 103 yards for a touchdown. Special teams is an underrated area of the game from a fans perspective, but Seahawks fans have a reason to be excited about Lockett's preseason performance. According to football outsiders, the Seahawks finished 19th overall in special teams rankings. With a defense that intimidates opponents and an offense spearheaded by Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and most recently Jimmy Graham, an electric returner on special teams could make the Seahawks even more of an NFL Juggernaut.
While preseason might not be the most fun to watch, nor the most telling sign of what is to come, it does certainly highlight performances of young NFL players, namely rookies. Since there is no pro-football comparison to make for these young players, their preseason performances are fans' first real glimpse at what their teams rookies might become.