Sure, it’s only the preseason, but there is still room to be excited about some of the things we saw during the first full week exhibition games.
Aside from football being back in full swing (which in my opinion should be cause for a national celebration), there were some individual performances that caught our eye and perhaps gave us a tiny glimpse of what is to come during the 2013 season.
Without further ado, here are my top performers for the first full weekend of preseason games.
EJ Manuel, Quarterback, Buffalo Bills – Manuel justified, if only for one day, the Bills making him the first quarterback selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. He played the entire first half and finished with a stat line of 16-for-21, 107 yards and a touchdown. He looked in complete control throughout the half and appears to be prepared for the rigors of starting in the NFL. I think it is only fair to mention the performance of Buffalo’s other quarterback, Jeff Tuel. Tuel had quite a day himself, completing 19 of 23 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.
LeGarrette Blount, Running Back, New England Patriots – Everyone wondered how the Patriots would be able to put together a passing game with all of their offensive changes. In true Belichick form, the Patriots decided to instead show the world that they have a running game to be feared. Blount led the charge with an 11 carry, 101 yard performance that included two touchdowns.
Dane Sanzenbacher, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals – Sanzenbacher might have secured himself a roster spot between his performance in the slot and on special teams. He caught two passes, one of which was a 36 yard touchdown. Earlier in the game, he returned a punt 71 yard for a score. Sanzenbacher’s versatility would add another explosive weapon to an already dangerous set of Bengal skill players.
Marquess Wilson, Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears – The 7th round pick out of Washington State made his presence felt against the Panthers. He caught four passes for 82 yards, including a 58 yarder. Wilson has a decent chance of landing a roster spot and could emerge as a serious red zone threat in Marc Trestman’s offense.
Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, Detroit Lions – Ansah had quite a debut for the Lions as he begins his quest to replace Kyle Vandenbosch on the edge. The rookie out of BYU had two tackles, including one for a loss and a tipped pass. The highlight of his night came when he intercepted Mark Sanchez at the line of scrimmage and took it to the house. Ansah’s athleticism on a D-line that already includes Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley is a scary thought for any offensive coordinator.
The Arizona Cardinal Defense – Obviously not the work of one man, but wow, what an impressive performance. They registered three sacks and an interception against the Packers at Lambeau en route to a 17-0 shutout. Again, it’s only the preseason, but the Cardinal defense looks like it has all the tools to keep pace in the NFC West as long as the offense can put some points on the board.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON AUGUST 12, 2013
Follow @JPScottSports on Twitter.