Preseason week 1: Key notes
Pre-season is finally here and we all get a taste for football yet again. Now I know we have all been anxious patiently waiting for this, however it’s important to keep in mind that pre-season is not about wins and losses. It is about getting rep’s in for guy’s trying to fight for a roster spot and to see and evaluate where players currently are and how they have developed thus far in order to determine how much more room for improvement they may have. Which of course all boils down to calculating how a player may help and contribute to the roster now and moving forward in the future. With that being mentioned here are the main points and take away’s from the opening pre-season game.
The first eye popping off the charts note that needs to be addressed is that Uchenna Nwosu is a BEAST! That’s right I said it and I know all of those who watched noticed it. He technically only recorded one tackle however he seemed to be disruptive in the backfield on almost every play. One play in particular he started off the edge and after his first step juked to the inside gap between the guard and tackle in what seemed to be in effortless graceful fashion. He seemed to make the most of his 33 snaps. He did get called on an off sides penalty on third down but I don’t put much stock into that being how it’s only the first game of the pre-season. Nwosu finished last season with 11 tackles and four sacks grading out with a 67.9 overall grade for the season. I have no doubt that Nwosu takes a huge leap forward in his second season and not only makes those numbers sky rocket but also will become the full time “Leo” in Gus Bradley’s system.
Probably the most important take away from this game was the fact that left tackle Trent Scott had a very good game and yet that seemed to fly under everyone’s radar. Now taking into consideration the fact that former pro bowl left tackle Russell Okung is having health problems due to blood clots, this makes Scott’s performance all the more important. Scott played a total of 42 snaps and finished with a pro football focus grade of 80.8 on passing downs. Unfortunately he only was graded at a 50 in the run department. The good news is that it’s only week one of the pre-season so Scott’s development is one of the main story lines to keep an eye on. Needless to say I excpect better pass blocking from a blindside protector over his run blocking yet both need to improve.
Speaking of the offensive line there seemed to be a constant shuffle up front. Dan Feeney played center and right guard, Forrest Lamp played both guard positions and Scott Quessenberry played center and right guard. It seems the coaching staff is still trying to figure out who belongs where and how they handle specific sides. Lamp seemed to be the best inside lineman on this night as he graded out the highest overall 61.5 (78 passing & 62.2 run blocking). While Dan Feeney seemed to play well also but is the complete opposite in that he played great against the run (70.9) and very poorly in pass protection (37.8). One thing I’ve noticed about Feeney in pass protection is he always seems to get in trouble on delayed blitzes on passing downs as he never looks back to the linebackers after his initial read. Trey Pipkins remains a project yet still is preforming better than the ever popular Sam Tevi. Cough cough.
I must admit I was not very big on Easton Stick coming into this night yet I’ve seemed to of had the beginnings of a mind change. He did throw an interception however finished the night completing 7 out of 11 attempts for 78 yards along with 2 rushing attempts for 51 yards and a touchdown. The thing that really stood out to everyone was how fast Stick is, I mean I heard he could run a little but I had no idea he had wheels like that. He was drafted as a project in the 5th round and the fact that he has the opportunity to learn from both Rivers and Taylor is the most ideal situation for Stick to develop. Rivers is one of the most accurate passers in the league and has been for some time now and the fact that Stick was standing next to Rivers on the sideline for most of the time only shows me that he is indeed trying to soak up as much information as possible. The benefit of having Tyrod Taylor to learn from is that he can learn how to use those wheels. I say that referring to having the ability and knowledge to have a steady balance between being a pocket passer and a scrambling quarterback. I suppose this means the inevitable demise of Cardel Jones is right around the corner.
Other than that I can say I was very impressed by what I saw from both running backs Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. This only provides great hope that the team can excel despite what may or may not happen with the Melvin Gordon situation. I would like to see Newsome get more carries next week as he is more than likely going to be the number 3 in the absence of Gordon. The last thing I would mention would be the linebacker core. It felt and looked really good to have Denzel and Kyzir out there again. Both looked very fluid and sharp in there breaks and Perryman of course as always impresses with his middle of the field tackling. We need Perryman to stay healthy this year as the defense is a much different animal with him on the field. Drue tranquil also looked very sharp in pass coverage and I would like to see him get more reps over Dzunbar moving forward. I look forward to seeing how all these story lines progress as the pre-season moves along. Stay tuned folks.