Eight standout players from Thursday Night’s NFL Preseason Action

By Rachel Wold

Opening night in the NFL’s preseason schedule brought with it some outstanding performances.

Sprinkled among some unfortunate player injuries, these upcoming NFL players made their mark in Thursday’s preseason action. Here are some of the players who stood out and caught the attention of their audience, and hopefully, their coaching staff.

Jonas Gray, running back New England Patriots


The highlights of Gray’s night in a matchup against the Green Bay Packers included an awesome 55-yard touchdown followed up with a successful two-point conversion run. He totaled 74 rushing yards on seven carries before sitting out for the rest of the evening.

From past experience, we have see Gray go to town, then go for zero the following game—the old Bill Bellichick special, as fantasy football fans are all too familiar with.

It will be worth monitoring Gray’s progress as the preseason plays out. However, accomplishing 10.5 yards per carry was a spectacular way for Gray to standout to his team Thursday night.

Ameer Abdullah, running back Detroit Lions

Abdullah did not disappoint one bit in his rookie preseason debut. The speedy back rushed for 67 yards on seven attempts and had a sweet 45-yard gallop on an unsuspecting New York Jets defense. He wears former running back Reggie Bush’s No. 21 jersey, however, with the way Abdullah turned heads we’re left saying, “Reggie who?”

Golden Tate, wide receiver, Detroit Lions

Tate evaded the Jets defenders like they were a bunch of toddlers on Thursday night. He was perfect, managing to catch both of his targets from quarterback Matthew Stafford for a total of 57 yards and one touchdown.

Just watch Tate in action:


Michael Campanaro, wide receiver Baltimore Ravens

Attempting to make a name for himself among the Ravens receivers is second-year wideout Campanaro, who caught both of his passes for 58 yards and a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints. With rookie Breshad Perriman sidelined, Thursday’s game presented the opportunity for the receivers lower down on Baltimore’s depth chart to show off their talents. In his rookie year, Campanaro only played in four games where he tallied seven receptions, 102 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers might increase if he continues to impress.

Khiry Robinson, running back, New Orleans Saints

Robinson was quite handy for the Saints, rushing for 35 yards on just two attempts, including a 29-yard dash in Thursday’s preseason game against the Ravens. He also caught all three of his passes for 37 yards and a receiving touchdown. Robinson sits behind running backs Mark Ingram an C.J. Spiller on the depth chart. The third-year back is making a case for increased play action in 2015.

Johnny Manziel, quarterback Cleveland Browns

The highlight of Johnny Football’s debut in the 2015 preseason included what he does best: Manziel put those feet to use and took off for a rushing touchdown.

It was his only touchdown for the evening while he remained clean with no picks. Manziel managed to complete 7 of 11 passes for 42 yards. Let’s just say he looked far superior in Thursday’s game than he did when he was given the starting opportunity last season.

Ryan Tannehill, quarterback Miami Dolphins

Tannehill looked sharp as nails against the Chicago Bears completing six of seven pass attempts for 56 yards and one touchdown. Beware, he might just be making his way into top 10 quarterback status.

Branden Oliver, running back San Diego Chargers

A standout player for the Chargers in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, second-year running back Oliver was on fire. he managed 53 yards on 10 attempts with one touchdown on the ground and out-shined rookie running back Melvin Gordon who had six attempts for only 11 yards.

While we shouldn’t read too much into the budding progress of some of these standout players, it is worth noting the terrific plays and progress made by these guys on during Thursday’s preseason games.

Yes, football is back and true fans are soaking in every glorious moment of it.