NFL fans are starting to paint a picture of how strong or weak their teams are just after completing the first week of games. Although most teams’ starters and superstars were sitting out, these are games to see how well you spent your draft picks and how much each team invested in free agent signings. All eyes were on number one draft pick Cleveland Browns rookie QB Baker Mayfield. The former Oklahoma Heisman excited the loyal “Dawg Pound” Browns and fans were excited to get their first glance of Mayfield in game action. Mayfield did not disappoint. In a 20-10 victory over the New York Giants, Mayfield impressed fans and quieted critics throwing 11-20 for 212 yards. He threw two touchdown passes showing great passing decisions and the ability to move around in and out of the pocket. In the same game, the number two pick, Giants running back Saquon Barkley impressed Giants fans with a breakout 39-yard run showcasing his elusiveness with football avoided tackles left and right from Browns’ defenders. Although that one run accounted for a majority of his yardage in his total of only four carries, that play might give him a good boost in playing time from head coach Pat Shurmer. The Denver Broncos squared off against NFC North Champs the Minnesota Vikings. Former Vikings quarterback Case Keenum has been on multiple NFL rosters. This time he’s in Denver and started against his former team. Although new Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins looked sharp, the same case couldn’t be made for Keenum who struggled and finished 1-5 and threw for just five yards, yikes. Broncos rookie quarterback Chad Kelly, looked poised in his debut. Even though he threw an interception, Kelly threw an impressive 14-21 for 177 yards, and finished with two touchdown passes. Kelly is the hidden gem in the Broncos group of quarterbacks and if Keenum doesn’t find his play from his almost Cinderella season last year, he might just be back to what he has always been, a good back up. The number three pick New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold impressed Jets fans and coaches. Darnold was able to throw six straight and accurate passes in a row in one series and threw for a touchdown pass. Making a case for himself, he has not faltered under the pressure and has kept up in the quarterback battle in New York. But, veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is making it tough and competitive for Darnold by also having a solid outing. With an almost perfect passer rating, Bridgewater went 7-8 and threw for 87 yards. Whether or not Minnesota lost a quality star quarterback in Bridgewater may depend on the success of Kirk Cousins. Either way, Jets fans should be excited. Given that it’s just one week of preseason games, their performance in one game shouldn’t mean anything, but they do. Signs shown in these early weeks of preseason could be the dominos that can crumble a team halfway through the full NFL season. Rookies and veterans will have just three more weeks to prove themselves. Time to step up or shut up.
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