Week 1 of the NFL preseason came to a conclusion Saturday evening with three games on the slate.
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs played their starting quarterbacks. The other three teams went with backups for their preseason debuts.
Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton and Patrick Mahomes were on fire in their limited action. Meanwhile, some other second-tier players stood out.
These are among the biggest takeaways from Saturday’s preseason NFL action.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs offense starts hot
It was surprising to see Patrick Mahomes on the field for Kansas City’s preseason debut. The reigning NFL MVP really didn’t need to play to prove his worth to Andy Reid and Co. But in the limited action he did see, Mahomes didn’t show any rust.
The young quarterback completed all four of his pass attempts during a seven-play, 83-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown run by new Chiefs back Carlos Hyde. Yeah, the Chiefs’ offense is already clicking on all cylinders.
Dak Prescott off to strong start
Even without Ezekiel Elliott and other Cowboys starters going in their preseason opener against the 49ers, Jason Garrett decided to play Prescott. It was a good decision from the embattled head coach, as Prescott got the unofficial season started on a good note.
The young signal caller completed all four of his passes for 23 yards en route to leading Dallas to a field goal in his only series of the game. Sure there wasn’t anything sexy about Prescott’s performance. Even then, the contract extension candidate looked darn good in his initial action of the summer.
J.J. Nelson shows out for the Raiders
Oakland is going to need some of its more proven to receivers to step up with Antonio Brown still away from the team and considering potential retirement. Nelson is among the veteran additions to this squad who has performed well thus far in training camp.
That continued in his preseason debut with the Raiders. The fifth-year receiver caught both of his targets for 43 yards, including a spectacular 38-yard reception. Given that Nelson fell out of favor in Arizona last season, it’s surprising to see him excelling with another team. And it could be a boon for the Raiders.
Zac Taylor’s offense looked great
The first-year Bengals head coach wanted to see how Andy Dalton would look in this new offense. It went about as well as can be expected. Dalton completed 7-of-9 passes for 80 yards in his only drive. That included completions to a plethora of different receivers.
It was nice to see Dalton out there performing at a high level in his initial action under Taylor. Whether this correlates to regular-season action remains to be seen.
Mecole Hardman is going to be a stud
We focused on this rookie from Georgia prior to Saturday’s action. Hardman did not disappoint in his NFL debut. The 5-foot-10 receiver caught two passes for 31 yards on three targets. That included a 17-yard touchdown catch.
Hardman is going to be a problem for opposing NFL defenses, especially with Tyreek Hill still rostered in Kansas City. These two will create major mismatches in the passing game with Patrick Mahomes tossing them the rock. Nothing we saw from Hardman Saturday evening dispelled this notion.
Rams offense sputters
It’s not surprising that the Rams struggled to move the ball Saturday night against a suspect Raiders defense. The likes of Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp did not play in this one. However, Los Angeles’ lack of depth on offense showed big time in this one.
The Rams put up a grand total of 110 yards and six first downs in the opening two quarters, converting on 1-of-7 third-down attempts. While we shouldn’t read too much into this with the backups playing and a watered-down playbook, it is something to look at moving forward.
Raiders offense offers pass-happy attack
Head coach Jon Gruden was not messing around on offense against the Rams Saturday night. Even without Derek Carr on the field, he decided to toss the ball all around Oakland Coliseum. Backup quarterback Mike Glennon attempted 25 passes in the first half, completing 17 of them for 200 yards.
While Glennon did throw two interceptions, this new aerial attack had to surprise Los Angeles’ defense. Could it be a harbinger of things to come when Carr ultimately makes his preseason debut next week? That’s more than likely.
Jalen Hurd might be a mid-round steal
The San Francisco 49ers surprised a lot of people when they selected former Baylor wide receiver Jalen Hurd in the third round of April’s draft. It came one round after the 49ers picked up fellow wide receiver Deebo Samuel. The 6-foot-4 Hurd has always been an interesting pro prospect. He began his college career starring at running back for Tennessee before transitioning to wide receiver for the Bears.
Hurd can play a plethora of different positions. He’ll be the next Swiss Army Knife in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. That showed in a big way during Hurd’s NFL debut Saturday night. The 20-yard touchdown he caught from Nick Mullens displayed both the versatility Hurd boasts as a receiver and the strength he showed at running back. It’s going to be an interesting rookie season for Hurd in San Francisco.