The first week of the NFL preseason is for second- and third-stringers to shine, but some teams were daring enough to start their first-teamers and give them a chance to steal the limelight. Here are the players who put on a show as the curtain raised on the NFL season.
1. Nathan Peterman (Raiders)
After a lackluster tenure with the Buffalo Bills, which ended with exactly one touchdown pass and seven interceptions, Peterman faced an uphill battle to secure a spot on the Raiders’ roster. His performance Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs will certainly help his case.
In addition to a 50-yard run that had to have sent Raider Nation through all kinds of emotions, Peterman was 9-of-12 passing for 156 yards and a touchdown. If Peterman can keep these numbers up, his place on the Raiders is all but assured.
2. Dak Prescott (Cowboys)
The Dallas Cowboys have three of their most important players engaged in prolonged contract negotiations, including Prescott, who came into the Cowboys’ preseason opener determined to prove he’s worth all of Jerry Jones’ money. On his first drive of the season, he completed all four of his passes for 23 yards, which was more impressive than either of his backups could manage.
If Prescott really is the Cowboys’ quarterback of the future, then his effort Saturday should at least provide some relief for Cowboys fans. It could also help him make a few extra bucks.
3. Mecole Hardman (Chiefs)
Pundits have zeroed in on the former Georgia wideout as a potential second-round steal for Kansas City, and his debut against Cincinnati did little to suggest otherwise. The stat line shows he only caught two passes, but it was what he did after the catch on his 17-yard touchdown that should have Chiefs fans excited for Hardman’s future.
Hardman is expected to add even more speed to a Chiefs receiver corps that already includes speedster Tyreek Hill, giving last season’s NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes plenty of options.
4. Jalen Hurd (49ers)
The former Baylor Bears wide receiver went off the board surprisingly early in April’s draft. Evidently, the 49ers saw something special in the multi-talented player, who spent his first three college years as a running back. Hurd gave fans a glimpse of his talent by scoring both of San Francisco’s touchdowns in its 17-9 win over Dallas.
Overall, Hurd caught three passes for 54 yards on a great night for 49ers passing.
5. Zac Taylor / Andy Dalton (Bengals)
Huh? But the Bengals lost to the Chiefs!
Yes, that’s true, but in the preseason, the scores are only half of the story. Taylor’s decision to start a still-recovering Andy Dalton may not have been enough to help them win, but Dalton’s stellar performance showed what the rookie head coach’s offense could be capable of. Dalton was 7-of-9 for the day with 80 yards passing, and led the Bengals on a touchdown drive before hitting the bench. While there is a long way to go from here, Taylor’s first gamble clearly paid off