Week 1 of the NFL Preseason has come and gone, with (by my count) 12 former Wildcats getting a chance to shine. Some fared well, and some were forgettable. Here’s the highlights.
Austin Carr, WR, New England Patriots: By now, you’ve probably all seen the video of Carr’s incredible touchdown catch. I’m going to show it to you again anyways:
Austin Carr (@ayeseeme) TD. All 32 teams passed on him for 7 rounds. @Patriots went #Patriots, signed him right away pic.twitter.com/FMI7iODO58— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) August 11, 2017
He also made a great toe-tapping catch for a big gain earlier in the drive, which you might not have seen:
Jimmy Garoppolo airing it out to Austin Carr, who has looked good tonight #JAXvsNE #Patriots pic.twitter.com/XVuoxL0tO2— Casey Baker (@CaseyBake16) August 11, 2017
Despite the highlight-reel catches, it’s going to be tough for Carr to make the Patriots roster. They have five receivers who are already established (Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and Brandin Cooks), and may not keep a sixth. Regardless, the Patriots will almost certainly try to put him on their practice squad, and he might get picked up by another team before he gets there. If the former Biletnikoff finalist keeps playing like this, we may see him on the field in the games that count.
Touchdown Trevor Siemian, QB, Denver Broncos: Trevor Siemian got the first crack at the Bears in their nationally-televised matchup on Thursday, and he avoided any major mistakes, finishing 6 of 7 for 51 yards while being sacked once. His counterpart, Paxton Lynch, will get the start in the Broncos’ Week 2 matchup with the 49ers, and an official starter should be named shortly afterwards. Siemian seems to be maintaining a tenuous grip on the lead in that competition as of now, but he needs to continue his success into next week if he wants the job.
Dean Lowry, DE, Green Bay Packers: In his second year with the Packers, Lowry is fighting for a starting job as a defensive end in the Packers’ 3-4 defense. He made a good case for himself on Thursday. Despite playing only 13 snaps, he made an impact on 3 of them, including a key quarterback hurry. He also helped snuff out a key 4th and 1 rushing play (watch number 94):
Good team stop here, and watch Dean Lowry dominate the LG. pic.twitter.com/WHDlzLh8DL— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) August 14, 2017
Then he looked like a veteran on this red zone stop:
Dean Lowry locking out and playing peek-a-boo as he controls/sheds the LG.. Lowry is a strong man. Need some twitch in game to threaten OL.. pic.twitter.com/jWtTs8RTCw— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) August 11, 2017
Lowry looks much improved, and will not only get reps but has the chance to start for the 2016 NFC runner-ups.
Anthony Walker Jr., LB, Indianapolis Colts: The most highly touted rookie out of Northwestern was the last to see preseason action, with his Colts taking on the Lions on Sunday in a game televised on NFL Network. Walker, who had run with the first-teamers at time during training camp, did so again on Sunday, recording two tackles. The fifth-round pick also had a potential big play called back:
Nice rip there from ILB Anthony Walker, who gets the ball loose, which is recovered by #Colts. Refs rule forward progress, however. No TO.— Andrew Walker (@AWalkerColts) August 13, 2017
Walker is still in the mix for a starting spot, and will continue to compete as the preseason moves along.
Joseph Jones, LB, Dallas Cowboys: The only player on this list to have played twice already, Jones led his team in tackles during the Hall of Fame game, registering 9, and picked up right where he left off last week against the Rams, with 4 more tackles including a TFL. The rookie undrafted free agent still faces an uphill battle to make the team, but with his valuable contributions thus far on both defense and special teams he has certainly given himself a chance.
Zach Strief, T, New Orleans: At this point, you’re probably tired of hearing about how good Zach Strief is, so I’ll keep this brief: the best Northwestern product currently in the NFL is almost certainly going to start at right tackle again.
Corbin Bryant, DT, New York Giants: Bryant, who is looking to compete for a job with the Giants in his first year with them after 5 seasons with the Bills, had a nondescript first preseason game, finishing with 2 tackles. Unfortunately, the veteran suffered a right arm injury yesterday morning in practice, the severity of which is unknown. The injury-plagued Bryant, who finished the 2016 season on injured reserve, should have a chance at competing for snaps if this injury isn’t too serious.
Brian Peters, LB, Houston Texans: In case you missed it, an awesome video detailing the journey of the backup linebacker/special teams ace made the rounds last Sunday:
From @NUFBFamily ➡ @AFLarenaball ➡ UFL ➡ @sskroughriders ➡ @NFL@Brian_Peters10's football story has taken him all over North America. pic.twitter.com/kvO5snzRIR— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) August 6, 2017
Peters got in on 3 tackles during the Texans’ game on Wednesday, and should be a near-lock for the roster once again.
Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE, Minnesota Vikings: The seventh round pick has recovered from his freak injury early in camp to show serious potential, according to Vikings beat writers. Odenigbo recorded 2 tackles in his first preseason game, and looks to be a near-lock for at least the practice squad with a decent chance of making the team.
Ibraheim Campbell, S, Cleveland Browns: Campbell, who is competing for a job at safety, sustained a scary-looking concussion on an Alvin Kamara run during the Browns’ first defensive drive. Get well soon, Ibraheim.
Dan Vitale, FB, Cleveland Browns: Vitale healed in time for the Browns’ preseason matchup with the Saints, and though he recorded no stats he reportedly did very well as a lead blocker. Vitale has a good chance of seeing the field at fullback again this year.
Sherrick McManis, CB, Chicago Bears: Last year’s Pro Bowl alternate is now the only Bear remaining on the roster that played under Lovie Smith. The 29 year old special teams ace recorded 3 tackles against Denver, and will almost certainly make the team again.
Note: Rashad Lawrence, who has bounced around practice squads and training camps for the past three years, was cut by the Saints two days ago after failing to record a catch in their first preseason game.