The first week of the NFL preseason was far from a crystal ball into the future of the 2019 season, but it still left plenty to evaluate. From rookie quarterback play to offensive firepower and one exciting touchdown return, here are five key takeaways from Week 1 of the preseason.
1. The most explosive offense in the league is even more dangerous
Reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes kicked off Saturday’s contest against the Bengals with an 83-yard touchdown drive in his only series of the game. The Chiefs’ first-team offense looked solid in a short amount of playing time, while rookie receiver Mecole Hardman showed he’s ready for the next level. Hardman caught just two passes for 31 yards, but turned one into a 17-yard touchdown. He’ll add speed to a receiving corps featuring Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) August 11, 2019
The Chiefs will still need help at running back after the departure of Kareem Hunt, but another rookie revealed he could provide even more depth at the position. Utah State back Darwin Thompson had five carries for 22 yards and one 29-yard catch for a touchdown. Thompson won’t see a whole lot of action ahead of Damien Williams or Carlos Hyde, but he could factor in nicely in Reid’s running back-by-committee approach.
2. Jones may win a starting QB job before fellow rookie Haskins
Sixth-overall pick Daniel Jones made his NFL debut Thursday for the Giants and went 5-of-5 for 67 yards and a touchdown. Chances are Eli Manning won’t get benched so quickly, but Jones’ play and boos echoing from the stadium following Manning’s three-and-out in the opening series indicate the veteran’s starting spot could belong to the rookie before the season is even halfway over.
Washington is experiencing its own quarterback dilemma with Colt McCoy, Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins in the mix. McCoy sat out Thursday, which gave Keenum the start. He went 4-of-9 for 60 yards before Haskins took over. The former Ohio State star looked good on his first attempt, a 27-yard pass, but went on to throw two interceptions, including one for a touchdown in the second quarter. Haskins finished the game 8-of-14 with 117 yards through the air.
McCoy should get his shot at playing time in the second or third week of the preseason. That will give us a better idea of who should win the starting job, while coach Jay Gruden has already stated it’s likely Keenum or McCoy will come out on top in the quarterback competition.
3. Kyler Murray looked impressive in new Arizona offense
He wasn’t a perfect 5-of-5 like Jones, but No. 1 overall draft pick Murray finished Thursday night 6-of-7 for 44 yards in just one series for the Arizona Cardinals. There wasn’t much to gather from his limited performance, but the Heisman Trophy winner out of Oklahoma looked sharp and confident in new coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Kingsbury didn’t reveal his hand too much Thursday, but he’ll attempt to prove his air raid offense can make waves in the league and improve upon the Cardinals’ abysmal offensive output in 2018.
Kyler Murray 👀👀👀 pic.twitter.com/tVawnRrSko
— Adam Lefkoe (@AdamLefkoe) August 9, 2019
4. It’s best to play it safe in the preseason
There’s a reason you don’t see significant roster pieces taking the field for too long in the preseason. Thursday’s Patriots-Lions matchup was an unfortunate reminder as to why. Even if the results of these exhibition games mean nothing, they’re still a major injury risk.
On Thursday night, eight-year veteran Jermaine Kearse, who signed a one-year deal with the Lions in the offseason, saw his season come to a disappointing end when Patriots defensive back Terrence Brooks landed on the receiver. Kearse was carted off and later diagnosed with a broken left leg. The Lions already lack depth at receiver, and the loss of an experienced player like Kearse is a huge blow.
5. The Browns have the best storyline ahead of the season
No, it’s not the ridiculous hype surrounding Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr.—though that’s incredibly intriguing too. The more interesting story is Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi. The rookie return specialist announced his presence Thursday night with a flashy 86-yard punt return against the Redskins. The unlikely hero’s score sparked a frenzy from his teammates and a dog pile on the field.
Sheehy-Guiseppi elicited the inspiring celebration because of the journey he’s made to arrive on the 90-man roster. Back in April he camped outside on the grass ahead of a Browns workout in Miami, then convinced the doorman that he knew Browns vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith to gain entrance. The truth is, he didn’t know Highsmith at all. Sheehy-Guiseppi got a shot at the workout nonetheless and was impressive enough to earn a camp invite. The cunning receiver hopes to make the 53-man regular-season roster, and many people, especially his teammates, are pulling for the fairy-tale achievement.
Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi’s pro journey
Crashed a workout in MIA
+ Ran a 4.38
+ Received invite to CLE tryout
+ Lived/slept in a 24-hr gym via guest passes
+ Charged phone in laundromat
+ ate 1-2x/day at random cookouts
= 85-yd return TD in 1st gm as a Brownpic.twitter.com/QO1dCWze1b
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 9, 2019