September 25, 2013 by Ell and Mike Sports
Top Stories: NFL 2013 Preseason
Chiefs D – The Chiefs D showed that with the added secondary help, their defense will be one of the hardest to stop thanks to an already dangerous pass rush. If the Chiefs, can get the offense on the same page under new Coach Andy Reid then this team will be dangerous. This defense should cause a lot of turnovers and has solid depth to give teams problems throughout the season.
E.J. Manuel (Bills) – In my opinion, I already believed that E.J. Manuel had the most potential of any QB in the draft, but I thought he would have a steep learning curve. Manuel has really grasped the offense out of the gate and proved that the QB competition was real and he has a legitimate chance to start. A knee injury shutdown his preseason, but he showed glimpses of what he could bring to a QB position in need in Buffalo.
Bills Front 7 – The Bills defense finally looks aggressive after a down year last year that did not meet expectations based on the high priced signings of DE Mario Williams and pass rusher DE Mark Anderson. The D-line seems ready to wreck havoc on opposing teams with help from the linebacker core (finally), including rookie MLB Kiko Alonso solidifying the middle. The secondary still has its issues, but the potential is there with CB Stephen Gilmore; the front seven will help ease the pain.
Redskins Defense – The Redskins defense looks very much improved from last season with all the injuries that occurred. The team has been able to provide a solid pass rush and appears to have hit on draft picks CB David Amerson and Safety Bacarri Rambo who seem to have earned starting spots. Hopefully, they can help prevent a lot of the big plays from last year in a tough NFC East Division. The return of pass rusher Brian Orakpo from injury will be a huge addition.
Rex Grossman / Pat White (Redskins) – Grossman was really able to put up points for the Redskins offense in the absence of QB’s Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. Grossman moved the ball methodically down the field in a way that most people thought he was no longer (or ever) capable off. QB Pat White on his return to the NFL from MLB was able to provide a solid spark to offense out of the pistol; his style of play seems to fit the new trend of NFL QB’s. We will see who is able to stick around depending on how many QB’s the Redskins decide to keep; however, this gives them solid depth at an important position.
Tyrod Taylor (Ravens) – Taylor’s play in the preseason showed that he has really been working at his game. He actually looked better than QB Joe Flacco moving the ball down the field while making plays outside the pocket. He did have a few interceptions along the way, but Taylor showed solid play proving that he is a solid #2 QB in the league. Taylor also showed solid play out of the pistol and I wonder if he will get a few plays this season to spark the offense.
Julius Thomas (Broncos) – As if the Broncos didn’t already have enough weapons, the Broncos found a former basketball player, at TE who seems to be athletic and versatile enough to make plays. He has been one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets during the preseason and may be able to take over the starting job. His raw athletic skills, leaping ability, and speed will make him tough to cover and his development along with the big 3 WR’s would make this one of the most dangerous offenses in the league.
Patriots Run O – Without the two star TE’s, most people wondered where the offensive production would come from with the Pats. The Pats showed a solid ability to run the football getting back to the original roots of this offense. The combination of power back LeGarrette Blount and last year’s star runner Stevan Ridley proved to be too much for opposing defenses giving the Pats something they can lean on during the season. A solid run game can draw in defenders giving the young WR’s space to make plays.
Ryan Mallett (Patriots) – There were many trade rumors surrounding QB Ryan Mallett just like many other Patriots backups, as teams want to see what they have learned from Belichick and Brady. Mallett showed good pocket presence and a strong arm throughout the preseason showing what many teams see in him. He has good size and seems to have polished his game. It will be interesting to see if a team can pull off a trade for him or if he will eventually be a starter for the Pats. Mallett will definitely be a starter one day.
Cardinals New Attitude – The Cardinals seem to be playing a lot more aggressively as a team (not just the defense) and appear ready to give teams a challenge under new Head Coach Bruce Arians. QB Carson Palmer has motivated WR Larry Fitzgerald and this seems like a deadly duo waiting to happen. Rookie FS Tyrann Mathieu also showed off the many ways he can help this team on special teams and defensively. The Cards got creative trying to find ways to give CB Patrick Peterson the ball on offense at WR now that there is added special teams firepower. This team should upset teams and find ways to win in a tough division.
Kenny Stills (Saints) – Rookie WR Kenny Stills burst on the scene in the preseason displaying his skills putting up good numbers while using his speed to stretch the field. He showed good hands, athleticism, and production which are the key in an offense where the ball is constantly thrown around. Stills could probably start off as the #4 WR and work his way up the depth chart. He could be a consistent deep threat if his play translates into the regular season.
Matt Barkley / Eagles Offense – Despite slipping in the draft, QB Matt Barkley was able to show a good grasp of the offense looking like a general on the field like in his USC days. He may have a future as the quarterback since Coach Kelly didn’t draft QB Nick Foles and decided to bring in Barkley. He did make a few mistakes, but overall had solid play. Barkley has a quick release and good accuracy. His development into next season will be the key to determine if he is the future or not. Coach Chip Kelly’s new offense appears to be very fast paced, but effective at carving defenses. The question is can the players keep up? Scoring too quickly in the league is not always a good thing.
Cordarelle Patterson (Vikings) – Patterson was drafted to help replace traded WR Percy Harvin as the offensive spark and he appears to be ready to make his mark. He displayed that he is definitely ready to make big plays on special teams as an elusive returner. Patterson’s receiving skills appear that he is ready to play out of the slot causing mismatches and getting the ball in space. His potential is still high and Patterson should continue to develop as he makes highlight plays for a Vikings offense in need of playmakers to complement the run game.
Jermaine Kearse (Seahawks) – The Seahawks have a great defense, but the offense seemed to have lacked playmakers. WR Jermaine Kearse, a 2012 undrafted free agent, was able to provide a spark to the offense and seems to have good chemistry with QB Russell Wilson. He was also a big spark on special teams making a 107 yd return. He should be a playmaker on special teams and should work his way into the slot WR spot eventually as he develops.
DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) – The Texans were hoping that WR DeAndre Hopkins could learn quickly and take over the #2 spot ahead of the other former draft picks on the team. Hopkins had a pretty good training camp, but never captured the spot. However, in the preseason he showed his ability to be a spark on offense like his days at Clemson. Hopkins should be the #2 WR spot making plays opposite of the double teams on WR Andre Johnson. He should take the Texans offense to another level giving them another solid playmaker.
Panthers D – The Panthers needed some sort of consistency with both sides of the ball not really complementing each other, of course, resulting in losses. However, in the preseason this defense showed that they are ready to deliver hard hitting, impact plays consistently lead by star MLB Luke Kuechly. Kuechly seems ready to take his game to a star level and unquestioned captain of this defense it will be interesting to see if the offense can complement the defense.
Tim Tebow (Pats) / Vince Young (Packers) (Sightings) – The long anticipated return of Tim Tebow finally happened in a Pats uniform, but the result weren’t pretty leading to his departure. Tebow seemed able to run efficiently at times, but still not display the proper QB mechanics or accuracy to keep his spot. I know that he is still in winner in some team needs to give him a chance to win games. There was finally a Vince Young sighting this preseason as he got a chance to contend for the backup spot to QB Aaron Rodgers. Young played pretty well in the last two preseason games, but he was still later released. Hopefully, he can still catch on with another team as a backup as he continues his quest to return to the league.
Goodbye, Matt Leinart (Bills) : Leinart was signed by the Bills due to injuries to QB’s E.J. Manuel and Kevin Kolb. This was his last effort to really prove that he belonged in the league after falling into a backup role after being a high draft pick. He struggled mightily starting in the Bills preseason game turning over the ball and displaying poor accuracy. This should be the last time we see QB Matt Leinart.
Season Ending Injuries: The key story in the preseason and offseason was players going down with season ending injuries which is not good for the image of the league. No one likes to see their star player go down or a key lineman; so it’s not good for the fan or player. Let’s hope the number of injuries will decrease and teams can enjoy better health throughout the season.