You already know what happened with Andrew Luck. We all know that. And you probably know, too, that Lamar Miller is out for the season and now the Houston Texans have several questions marks in the backfield.
Those were the two major stories that broke during Week 3 of the preseason, obfuscating what happened on the field in what is considered the most important week of the preseason.
Therefore, as we’ve been doing every week since the preseason started, QB List brings you the players that stood out the most this past weekend.
Considering that most of the starters and second-team players are unlikely to get any action in the preseason finale next week, the preseason notes below are the last relevant ones before the regular season finally kicks off September 5.
Dalvin Cook (RB, Minnesota Vikings)
Dalvin Cook was on the field only for the Minnesota Vikings’ first two drives against the Arizona Cardinals. But that was enough for third-year running back to prove plenty explosive in the backfield. Cook ran the ball twice but totaled 88 yards and a touchdown, in an 85-yard dominant run in-between the Cardinals defense. It was the signature, I’m-back-play from Cook, who is still looking for a breakout year after dealing with injuries in his first two seasons in the NFL.
Michael Thomas (WR, New Orleans Saints)
It took Michael Thomas just the opening drive in Saturday’s game between the New Orleans Saints and the New York Jets to show why he just became the highest-paid wide receiver in football. He caught both of his targets for 39 yards and a touchdown. Thomas’ TD came in a contested 19-yard pass from Drew Brees, who played in his first (and likely only) drive this preseason. It was a quick, strong test drive for the fantasy owners regarding Thomas with the regular season less than two weeks away.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)
Juju Smith-Schuster had a similar night as Thomas in Week 3 of the preseason: When he was on the field against the Tennessee Titans alongside his starting quarterback, their connection looked great. Ben Roethlisberger targeted Smith-Schuster five times, and the wide receiver caught four passes for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Matt Breida (RB, San Francisco 49ers)
As the San Francisco 49ers wait for Jerick McKinnon to recover from injury and set up what was once one of the NFL’s most crowded backfields, Matt Breida continues to make himself noticed with the team. In the matchup over the Kansas City Chiefs, Breida totalled 75 yards and one touchdown on just nine touches (seven runs and two catches).
For the record, it wasn’t an inspiring day for offseason addition Tevin Coleman, as the running back had 10 touches for 21 yards in the game.
Tyler Lockett (WR, Seattle Seahawks)
It’s still risky to lean on the Seattle Seahawks’ wide receivers early during the draft, but the preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers showed that Tyler Lockett should indeed be Russell Wilson’s main target. Lockett totaled two receptions for 50 yards in the early TD-drive orchestrated by Wilson. The 26-year-old WR also had one rushing attempt for six yards.
Damien Williams (RB, Kansas City Chiefs)
After an exciting final quarter of the 2018 season, Damien Williams solidified himself as the Kansas City Chiefs starting running back for the 2019 season. The 27-year-old made only his second appearance this preseason last Saturday against the San Francisco 49ers, and while he was limited to only one run for two yards on the ground, Williams was impressive catching the football. The RB posted three receptions for a game-high 74 yards and a touchdown, which came primarily from a 62-yard run-after-catch play after a great pass by Patrick Mahomes.
Ito Smith (RB, Atlanta Falcons)
Six touches, 32 yards, and a touchdown, those were Ito Smith’s final stats after the third preseason game versus the Washington Redskins. Smith has now scored in three consecutive appearances in August, solidifying himself as a reliable option in the backfield for the Atlanta Falcons behind Devonta Freeman. With Coleman now gone, the second-year running back is doing exactly what he was supposed to do to secure the number two spot among running backs on the Falcons depth chart.
Derrius Guice (RB, Washington Redskins)
The reason why the Redskins drafted Derrius Guice in the second round in 2018 was aiming for the LSU alumnus to become team’s main early-down back, at least. Although Guice didn’t play as a rookie with a torn ACL and Adrian Peterson has proven he still has gas left in the tank at the age of 34, Guice’s 2019 debut last Thursday showed that the second-year running back is on track for a solid bounce-back season. He looked strong running the ball 11 times for 44 yards against the Falcons.
Dede Westbrook (WR, Jacksonville Jaguars)
We all want to see how the Jacksonville Jaguars’ receiving corps will perform with Nick Foles under center in 2019, and considering the third game of the preseason, when Foles made his debut, there’s a clear name to have an eye on. After all, Dede Westbrook demonstrated chemistry with Foles, catching four of seven passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. Seven of Foles’ 10 attempts in four drives played against the Miami Dolphins were to Westbrook. The second-year receiver is a precise route runner who should gain value with a new era heating up in Jacksonville.
T. J. Hockenson (TE, Detroit Lions)
When the Detroit Lions’ starting offense was on the field Friday against the Buffalo Bills, T. J. Hockenson was one of the team’s biggest standouts in the passing game. He did have a dropped pass, but overall the first-round rookie displayed glimpses of what Detroit’s new starting tight end should do, hauling three of four targets for a game-high 52 yards. The mismatches created by Hockenson all over the field were also positive news for the Lions.
Here’s his best highlight of the night:
Deon Cain (WR, Indianapolis Colts)
No one knows exactly what’s next for the Indianapolis Colts’ offense without Luck. And among the players who can surprisingly step up once the regular season starts is Deon Cain. After posting seven catches for 80 yards last week, the second-year wide receiver, who missed all of the 2018 season with an injury, caught three of four targets for 74 yards and a TD (including a 46-yard play in the second quarter) against the Chicago Bears. Cain continues to make his case for a final spot on the Colts’ 53-man roster as part of a young, explosive group of receivers.
(Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire)