Colts, Lions and Falcons: 3 rookie debuts to watch in NFL preseason Week 1

WESTFIELD, INDIANA - JULY 26: Anthony Richardson #5 of the Indianapolis Colts throws the ball during the first day of the Indianapolis Colts Training Camp at Grand Park Sports Campus on July 26, 2023 in Westfield, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
WESTFIELD, INDIANA - JULY 26: Anthony Richardson #5 of the Indianapolis Colts throws the ball during the first day of the Indianapolis Colts Training Camp at Grand Park Sports Campus on July 26, 2023 in Westfield, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

‍The NFL preseason is an exciting time for football fans as they get a glimpse of the up-and-coming talent they just drafted to shape the future of their favorite teams in their first bit of game action.

Lets take a closer look at four rookies who have the potential to make a significant impact in the upcoming weekend games. These rookies, Anthony Richardson of the Indianapolis Colts, Bijan Robinson of the Atlanta Falcons, Sam Laporta, and Jahmyr Gibbs of the Detroit Lions, are eager to showcase their skills and prove their worth on the field. Let’s dive into their backgrounds and what makes them stand out.

NFL preseason debut: Anthony Richardson – Indianapolis Colts

Richardson, a promising rookie from the Indianapolis Colts, has been turning heads during training camp with his exceptional athleticism and versatility.

Standing at 6’4″ and weighing 230 pounds, Richardson possesses the physical attributes of a prototypical NFL quarterback. Look for him to test out his arm strength, combined with his mobility, to extend plays and make accurate throws on the run at the NFL level, which will make for some exhilarating Saturday football.

"“Richardson’s agility and ability to create plays out of nothing is reminiscent of a young Michael Vick,” said HC Shane Steichen. “He has the potential to be a game-changer for our team.”"

On Thursday, Richardson was confirmed to start Saturday’s game:

"“I want to see where he’s at,” Steichen said. “Get him out there — he’s been doing a nice job. Get him out there with the guys and go from there.”"

Anticipation is high for Richardson debut but expectations need to be adjusted, odds are he will fall, and fall hard in his first taste of NFL action. It’s a much faster game and Richardson wasn’t an accomplished passer at the University of Florida.

NFL preseason rookie debuts: Bijan Robinson – Atlanta Falcons

Bijan Robinson, the rookie running back for the Atlanta Falcons, is a force to be reckoned with. With his exceptional speed and agility, Robinson has the potential to become a game-changer for the Falcons’ offense. Standing at 6’0″ and weighing 210 pounds, he possesses a unique blend of power and finesse, making him a difficult player to tackle.

Robinson has wasted no time in demonstrating his versatility during training camp with the Falcons. In addition to lining up as a traditional running back, he has also taken snaps out of the slot, lined up as a wide receiver, and even practiced as a punt returner. His agility and athleticism were on full display as he made a remarkable ankle-breaking move on linebacker Troy Anderson and followed it up with a one-handed catch.

Atlanta coach Arthur Smith expressed his satisfaction with Robinson’s performance, stating, “Pretty damn pleased with Bijan so far.”

In Friday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, Bijan Robinson is expected to make his NFL debut. The excitement surrounding his performance is palpable as fans eagerly anticipate his first appearance on the field.

NFL Mocks
NFL Mocks /

Want your voice heard? Join the NFL Mocks team!

Write for us!

As the Falcons prepare to face the Miami Dolphins in their first preseason game, all eyes will be on Bijan Robinson. This game will allow Robinson to showcase his skills on a bigger stage and solidify his role within the team. Despite getting listed as the RB3 on the depth chart, Robinson is expected to get a minimum of 10 carries against the Dolphins.

Smith believes Robinson’s skill set will make him a valuable asset to the Falcons’ running game:

"“His ability to hit the holes with explosiveness and make defenders miss is truly remarkable. We’re excited to see what he can do in the preseason games.”"

NFL preseason: Sam Laporta and Jahmyr Gibbs – Detroit Lions

Sam Laporta, a rookie tight end for the Detroit Lions, has been making waves in training camp with his exceptional route-running and reliable hands. Standing at 6’4″ and weighing 250 pounds, Laporta presents a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.

LaPorta, a second-round draft pick out of Iowa, has been turning heads with his exceptional skills on the field. The rookie tight end has quickly become a favorite target for quarterback Jared Goff, showcasing his ability to make tough catches and create separation from defenders.

LaPorta’s versatility is what sets him apart. He has proven to be a reliable pass-catcher, using his speed and agility to gain yards after the catch. Additionally, his blocking skills have impressed the coaching staff, making him an asset in both the passing and running game.

With his size, speed, and football IQ, LaPorta is poised to immediately impact the Lions’ offense against the Giants Friday night. Fans can expect to see him lining up in various formations, creating mismatches for opposing defenses, and providing a reliable option for Bridgewater and Goff at QB. LaPorta will wind up seeing the most game action of the Lions top four rookies against New York.

Another rookie who has been turning heads is running back Jahmyr Gibbs. Drafted in the first round out of Georgia Tech, Gibbs has shown tremendous potential as a playmaker in both the running and passing game.

Gibbs’ ability to catch the football has been a standout feature in training camp. His speed and agility make him a nightmare for defenders to cover, and he has consistently shown the ability to make big plays in practice. In fact, during a recent joint practice with the New York Giants, Gibbs dazzled with his electrifying runs and showcased his ability to contribute as a receiver.

dark. Next. Dawand Jones proving he was a steal at Browns training camp

Head coach Dan Campbell may allow a handful of debut carries for Gibbs, but don’t expect a lot of snaps, as he’s locked in to be the team’s primary playmaker out of the backfield once the regular season begins.

"“He can really catch the football, and really, really run,” Campbell said. “He’s twitchy, he’s fast. Once he gets away from you and gets separation, it’s tough to recover.”"