NFL football is back — Well, at least preseason NFL football is back.
While the warmup games may not lend much time to watching starters on your favorite NFL team, it is a good chance for rookies to see some live reps and get some game experience. Things move a lot faster in the NFL and the hits are a lot harder, but former Ohio State standouts performed well on their first weekend in the League.
Former Buckeyes showed off on offense during Week 1 of the preseason, including Cardale Jones (once again proving why his nickname is 12-Gauge), Braxton Miller (proving he can make tough catches) and Michael Thomas (who solidifies his role as a possible starter each time he takes the field). Nick Vannett is also working his way into the depth chart in Seattle, making two catches for 22 yards in his Week 1 showing.
The young quarterback went 11 for 21 during his preseason debut, recording 162 yards and a touchdown with the team’s third-team players. He helped the team launch an attempt to come from behind against the Colts, but ultimately came up a point shy. He came away from the game with the highest quarterback rating of the Bills’ three quarterbacks.
The quarterback turned wide receiver wasn’t too flashy during his debut with the Houston Texans, but a slick sideline snag supported his position switch ahead of taking his talents to the League.
The wide out has been a favorite of quarterback Drew Brees throughout OTAs and training camp, and finally everyone could see why. Thomas made a slew of catches in his debut that made Saints’ fans glad to have the Buckeye on their roster. No doubt a starter for the team, Thomas caught four of six targets for 64 yards — and did so in spectacular, and often diving, fashion.
Michael Thomas brings this one in despite the DPI https://t.co/KykasxEzhm— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 12, 2016
A main reason the Buckeye offense was so dominate, was thanks to the big men up front. With three new Ohio State players looking to make their marks in the NFL on the line, only two of the three rookies are expected to be on a roster come the start of the regular season.
Taylor Decker is expected to contribute as a starter right away, and his first preseason game didn’t bode well for the young players’ confidence. He drew a holding flag during the Week 1 matchup against the Buckeye-loaded Steelers and failed to stand up James Harrison letting him get to Stafford and force a fumble. The Lions haven’t sounded the alarm yet, and are hoping to see steady improvements by Decker throughout the preseason.
Despite playing Week 1, center Joel Hale only saw 13 snaps and he, along with Chase Farris, aren’t expected to make their respective team’s 53-man roster.
Some of the Buckeyes best defenders made their way to the NFL in 2016, and some have already shown signs of greatness — and surprised a few people along the way. First-round pick for the Giants, Eli Apple, gave the team a scare following a hit to his knee during their preseason game against the Dolphins — following an MRI, everything is said to be fine, with he’s said to be taking it “day by day”.
One of the bigger surprises from the NFL Draft was Powell not being taken during the seven round event. It wasn’t long after the close of the draft that the Buckeye was fielding offers from teams across the country, before ultimately signing with the Seattle Seahawks. Not that the lively player needed anymore fire to motivate him, but the draft snub is certainly ushering him to a spot on the final roster.
Powell is expected to make the roster for his abilities on special teams — a skill position Devin Smith never seemed to perfect — and with these highlights on defense his value has definitely gone up.
The first-round pick has caught the attention of his coaches during OTAs and training camp and continued to show off during the Jets’ first preseason game. Lee recorded the teams’ second sack of the game and even put up some miles on special teams -- even if that’s not exactly where he’s used to being.
“I’m pretty tired from special teams, I’m not going to lie,” Lee said, according to the team. “But according to everybody else, that’s what a rookie has to do. I have to keep running down on special teams, but still go out and make plays regardless if you’re winded. But other than that, I had a lot of fun.”
Despite being a force in training camp, Bell struggled a bit during his preseason debut, getting embarrassed on a cut by Patriots’ Julian Edelman and missing a golden chance at a interception that seemed to slip right through his hands. Hopefully, he can show the team that his efforts in practice can rollover to game day, and earn his spot on the final roster.
Continuing as one of the best guys on and off the field, Perry — unlike Bosa — made his debut for the Chargers in Week 1 and was able to force a fumble in one of several impressive plays. He spoke after the game about areas of improvement, and admitted that going against the tough Arizona run offense in Week 2 will be a challenge, but one that he’s ready to tackle (pun intended).
The Buffalo Bills are thanking their lucky stars to have gotten Washington in the third round, especially given the production he’s had in training camp and now in preseason. He’s already expected to start for the Bills at left defensive end, where he saw extended playing time during Week 1 of the preseason, with Coach Ryan lauding his addition to the d-line rotation.
Sometimes rookies can make a 53-man roster for their special team abilities alone. Aside, from looking good on offense, Jalin Marshall continues to shine on kick returns. He proved his worth during the Jets’ first preseason game, with an 80-yard return.
Not all Buckeyes made their debut during Week 1 of the preseason, with Ezekiel Elliott forced to delay the Cowboys’ second-coming due to a hamstring issue sustained during training camp, but is expected to get some reps during the preseason as a lead-in to a carry-heavy rookie season. Joey Bosa was also noticeably absent, but not surprisingly given the way his contract negotiations have gone with the San Diego Chargers — offset language and bonus money payout schedule has kept the Buckeye from signing his rookie deal with the team.
So far, the latest batch of Buckeyes to head to the NFL are carrying on a long tradition of excellence in the League. We’ll see where they all land once the teams announce their final 53-man rosters, but there will certainly be a bevy of Buckeye talent to root for throughout the regular season.