What you need to know about injuries, position battles, rookie debuts

31) This is what The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly wrote about George Pickens prior to the wide I did this (and that) in his preseason debut:

Honestly, I’ve never seen such a good rookie this early.

Now consider the rookie wide receivers who have passed through Pittsburgh over the past two decades that Kaboly has covered the team. He also considers that I ranked Pickens second in this rookie class. behind Jameson Williams, so this small sample size only confirms my always correct background. I’m biased, but I’m right!

32) Malik Willis had a handful of jaw-dropping plays in his preseason start, but Titans coach Mike Vrabel played the tough love card.

“I wanted Malik to throw the ball and he didn’t, so I put Logan (Woodside),” Vrabel said after the game.

Vrabel wasn’t happy with how often Willis held the ball and ran, even though those runs were often the Titans’ best plays. Woodside came on and threw two interceptions. The backup quarterback job appears to be on the line, and Woodside could end up being fired.

33) It’s hard to understand the development of Tennessee’s first-round pick Treylon Burks. He was playing deep reserves at the end of Thursday’s game, presumably because the Titans believed he needed the job. He had 30 snapshots and only one target. According to PFF’s Nathan Jahnke, no other receivers selected in the first or second round played in the second half weekend. In the past decade, only one other first-round receiver (DJ Moore) he has played until the fourth quarter of his first preseason game.

For comparison, Titans fifth-round rookie Kyle Philips was only asked to play three snaps and appears to be the favorite for the team’s wide receiver job. Philips’ role in Week 1 may be more secure than its first-round counterpart. While it looks like Philips is headed for the slot, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine could end up sharing a lot of Burks snaps.

3. 4) The Lions have reportedly been moving No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson inside on passes in practice, and that’s exactly what they did in the preseason opener as well. Hutchinson was given a holding penalty and had a forfeit tackle on his only work series, erupting into a “Billie Jean”-inspired leg kick celebration after his escape. hard knocks moment.

35) Jason Kelce’s excellent impression of Eagles rookie center Cam Jurgens is one of the reasons I love Philadelphia’s chances of winning 10-12 games this season. The Eagles have injury solutions all over the roster, with high-quality backups everywhere.

36) I’m trying not to overreact to random preseason games, but OMG Rams undrafted rookie Lance McCutcheon backed up all his enthusiasm for training camp practices. The man intimidated the Chargers for two touchdowns, a two-point conversion, and received two other penalties; he was almost undetectable. The performance reminded me of Victor Cruz’s preseason game for the Giants in 2010.

Don’t tell me that McCutcheon, who led Big Sky in receiving last year, doesn’t have more potential than other Rams deep receivers like Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek. Los Angeles coach Sean McVay indicated Saturday night that Atwell’s role on the team is secure. (If Atwell hasn’t been drafted in the second round, would that be the case?) The Rams now can’t risk trying to get McCutcheon on the practice squad.

37) The Ravens are so deep in safety that first-round pick Kyle Hamilton might not start. In just one drive, the Notre Dame product missed an inning that led to a long run and then another that led to a Malik Willis touchdown. He also showed off his incredible range on some plays, but it was hard not to notice he was playing until the second quarter with backup. This isn’t a cause for alarm, but it won’t be a surprise if Baltimore slowly introduces the rookie to start the season. The Ravens could rely more on their veterans in coverage.

38) Meanwhile, Baltimore fourth-round TE Isaiah Likely backed up his training camp reports with some incredible sacks in the narrow window in his first preseason game. With potential No. 2 receiver James Proche the last Ravens wide receiver to be injured, Likely could play a significant role in this passing attack sooner than expected.

39) Jordan Love’s Romeo Doubs’ long touchdown made up for some knockdowns in his preseason opener, but the most telling development for the rookie receiver came from a midweek practice story courtesy of The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman. Packers No. 1 cornerback Jaire Alexander personally sought to cover Doubs on live replays in practice, so Doubs would feel the intensity of playing a top-tier cornerback.

“You certainly want your best players to play against each other,” coach Matt LaFleur said of one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in football and … the team’s fourth-round pick.

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