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NFL AM: Rookie Standouts From Preseason Week 1

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Week 1 Preseason Rookie Standouts

Weeks 1 and 4 of the NFL preseason is usually the worst product that the league will put out of course outside the Pro Bowl.

With that said, Week 1 has a certain amount of excitement, not just because football is back after the long, arduous offseason, but we get to see the rookies suit up for the first time.

One of the most impressive rookies was Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.  The former Heisman candidate had an uneven draft process which allowed him to slip to the fourth round of April’s NFL Draft.

After one preseason game, Jerry Jones is looking like a plastic surgery enhanced, billionaire genius after his rookie completed 10 of 12 throws, for 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the team’s 28-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

“I think the best thing about Dak is that he is extremely calm,” Bryant said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s like he’s been here before. He’s not playing like a rookie. He is going to be very good; he’s special.”

It remains to be seen whether Prescott will indeed be special or just look special against a mediocre team’s backups, but it’s obviously better to play well as he did, rather than play poorly.

Somewhat lost in how impressive the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars were in their preseason loss to the New York Jets was the play of a pair of rookie defenders.

Linebacker Myles Jack, labeled one of the steals of the draft as Jacksonville grabbed him in the second round brought a certain level of physicality in his limited snaps in the team’s opener.

“I thought that he really flashed,” Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said of Jack. “He had a couple penalties. Actually, it looked like there was another one. That’s one thing: he played extremely physical and he made some flash plays. I thought his demeanor on the field was poised, on the field was excellent. I thought his running the defense was very good. He really had some flash plays and I think his physical nature jumped out.”

Jack only finished with a pair of tackles, but his impact was felt during Thursday night’s contest.

Another much less heralded Jaguars rookie, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue was extremely impressive on Thursday.  The undersized, 6-foot-2, 245 pound pass rusher beat Pro Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady on a sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick that ended a Jets drive.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. I always can improve,” Ngakoue said. “I’m not at my best. I definitely strive to be at my best. That’s what I learned tonight, I just have to keep working.”

The New Orleans Saints may have dropped their preseason opener to Jimmy Garoppolo and the New England Patriots, but there was plenty to feel good about, including rookie wide receiver Michael Thomas.

Thomas caught four passes in the first half for 67 yards, including a sprawling effort in which he pulled down a deep ball from Garrett Grayson while being interfered with.

His Saints’ teammates were impressed.

“He’s big and physical,” Luke McCown said Tuesday. “He runs mad. He’s just not afraid. He’s got a very tenacious attitude toward the football in the air. He’s going to go get it. In a rookie player, that’s what you look for. He’s not timid. He’s not scared of contact. I love his attitude and his willingness to play like that.”

“That’s something you are going to see a lot throughout the season,” Grayson said, via the Times-Picayune. “That kid’s an absolute stud.”

“We haven’t had a guy that aggressive to the ball in a long time,” right tackle Zach Strief added this week. “He runs routes like he wants to fight for the ball. And that’s something that guys either have or don’t have. He’s made a lot of big plays in a short amount of time already. He’s got a long way to go, just like we all do. But you can’t be more excited about a player two weeks into camp.”

He’s currently No. 4 on the Saints depth chart, but with the speed, size and ability to get and get the football, he could be the most talented receiver Brees has ever played with in New Orleans.

Beatty Making The Rounds

Former New York Giants offensive tackle Will Beatty is reportedly healed from the torn pectoral muscle that caused him to miss the entire 2015 regular season.  The former second-round pick turned 31 back in March and he’s drawing some interest around the league.

A Newsday report stated that Beatty worked out in Jacksonville last week for the Jaguars and he impressed them enough to receive an offer from Dave Caldwell and company.

The fact that Jacksonville brought him in would lead one to speculate over the health of Kelvin Beachum, who was brought in to compete (and take) the left tackle job from former second-overall draft pick Luke Joeckel.

Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley doesn’t seem overly concerned with Beachum’s health, or at least he’s not letting on to it in the media.

“We would all like to speed this up. I just trust our training staff and you know talking to Milo [Tom Myslinski], he is making progress every day and it’s even happening faster than we anticipated,” Bradley explained. “So again, getting that information. I am sitting here going okay, it is going to happen soon then. I think if it was talked to me any other way, like hey this could be extended time- there would be more concern.”

The Eagles have also reportedly been in contact with Beatty as they are trying to figure out what to do without former first-round pick Lane Johnson, who is facing a potential 10-game suspension to begin the season.

It’s no wonder that Beatty is a wanted man as it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible to find a starting caliber offensive lineman on the street in the month of August. He can now leverage the tackle-needy teams and leverage them for more guaranteed money.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.