Rookies Stars of Preseason Week 3


The third week of the preseason was the best opportunity most of the rookies had to showcase their skill set against worthy talent in the preseason. Before now, the starters barely played and next week, most of the starters likely won’t play much at all.

Some of the rookies were able to take advantage of this opportunity to show that they belonged in the NFL while others struggled to produce in the limelight. You would think that the ones who stood out would be the first rounders, but there was a plethora of late rounders who showed that they are much better than their draft slot would normally indicate.

Therefore, let’s take a look at a few players who stood out in the dress rehearsal for the regular season.

Ty Sambrailo, Denver Broncos

Ty Sambrailo’s transition to the NFL hasn’t been very smooth since he arrived in Denver; however, he appeared to turn a corner against the San Francisco 49ers. Sambrailo showed great footwork in the run game and he managed to wall of defenders, which opened up running lanes for the Broncos’ running backs.

In the passing game, Sambrailo did a great job hitting his landmarks and he showed a very good anchor against power. He was smooth with his kick slide, which allows him to mirror and run defenders around the loop. Furthermore, he showed the football intelligence necessary to recognize twists and blitzes, which is a great sign for his future.

Overall, Sambrailo isn’t a great player yet, but his performance showed that he has the talent to be a great tackle in the NFL.

Henry Anderson, Indianapolis Colts

Henry Anderson was one of the most disruptive defenders in college football last season, which has carried over to his NFL career thus far. Anderson continued his disruptive ways against the St. Louis Rams as he was fantastic against the run and showed flashes as a pass-rusher.

Anderson is a very linear player who wins with his hands, length and strength. He can win early with a quick swim move or he can walk an offensive linemen back with a stab or bull rush. At the moment, Anderson is a stout run defender who understands gap responsibility and how to play with leverage against single and double teams.

Anderson should be able to make an immediate impact as a run defender this season as he adds to his pass-rush repertoire. If he can do a better job of getting upfield and attack the shoulder of opposing offensive linemen, Anderson will become a very well rounded defensive lineman with Pro-Bowl potential.  He has shown that the NFL is not too big for him and Colts fans should be extremely happy to have him on their favorite team.

Mario Edwards Jr., Oakland Raiders

Mario Edwards Jr.’s college career was plagued by inconsistent play. He would flash his enormous talent for one or two plays, but he’d also play like a mediocre talent for four or five plays. It was extremely frustrating to watch a player with incredible talent play so poorly at Florida State.

In his first preseason game against the St. Louis Rams, it appeared as though Edwards was about to continue down the same path of mediocre play with flashes of brilliance; however, Edwards has begun to showcase him immense talent more consistently over the next two games.

Against the Arizona Cardinals, Edwards put together a brilliant performance as a pass-rusher. Edwards was a menace off the edge for the Raiders as he accounted for two sacks. Edwards won with speed and power, which is a great sign that he has been able to combine the two.

Many people scoffed at the Raiders using such a high pick on such an inconsistent player, but it appears as though the defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. is getting the best out Edwards. He has the chance to be a truly great player, it just hinders on his ability to consistently give the effort and play with good technique.


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and