The first preseason games continue to offer some very interesting NFL insights. What are some takeaways from the latest action?
Cooks showing why New Orleans Saints drafted him
A few people were concerned about the New Orleans Saints making Brandin Cooks their 1st round draft pick given his limited size at 5’10”. However, as he showed at Oregon State and in his first preseason action, that isn’t a problem if you have speed. Cooks caught five passes, showing good hands for the ball and demonstrated his explosiveness on a 25-yard touchdown grab. If he was that good playing with backups, one can imagine the potential when Drew Brees steps on the field.
Matt Cassel quiets the Teddy Bridgewater chants
The Minnesota Vikings invested a 1st round pick in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater this past NFL draft, so it’s only natural fans want to see him play well as fast as possible. While he didn’t play poorly against the Oakland Raiders, his competition Matt Cassel did. The 32-year old connected on 5-of-6 passes for 62 yards and led the only touchdown drive of the game for both teams.
Zach Miller and Chris Williams add explosion to Bears offense
As if having Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte weren’t enough for the Chicago Bears offense, it seems they may have some new dimensions in the works. The first was speed, as wide receiver Chris Williams showcased on a 73-yard touchdown bomb in the second half against Philadelphia. The other was a second pass catching tight end as fifth-year man Zach Miller showed with six catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns. With these additional options taking shape, Chicago could be even more explosive and dangerous in 2014.
Gus Bradley has the next top defense building in Jacksonville
He wanted to follow the same blueprint he helped create in Seattle and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is definitely on the right track. His defense proved that in their NFL preseason opener against Tampa Bay as they collected three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown. Barring health issues this unit has a chance to be very good this season and get the Jags back to relevance.
Watch out for Devonta Freeman in Atlanta
Matt Ryan is tough enough to handle by himself for the Atlanta Falcons. Still, history has proven he’s at his very best when he has a running game he can rely on. After the departure of Michael Turner, the Falcons have struggled to rediscover their ground attack. Perhaps their search is over. Rookie back Devonta Freeman showed why the team invested a third round draft pick in him by slashing through Miami for 50 yards on 10 carries. If that weren’t enough, he also hauled in a 57-yard pass.