Preseason Week 1: Thursday Night’s Top Offensive Performers

Last night featured a full slate of preseason Week 1 games, beginning with the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets kick-off at 7 P.M. (eastern time) and ending with the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers kicking off at 10 P.M. (eastern time). In all, six games were played around the National Football League, giving us countless of great performances from players looking to make their respective team’s 53-man roster.

Here are a few of the performances on the offensive side of the ball that stood out to us:

Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots QB (R)

With Tom Brady sitting, New England’s backup quarterback Ryan Mallett made the start under center for Bill Belichick’s squad against the Washington Redskins Thursday night. Mallett went 5/12 for 55 yards in his performance. This gave New England’s second round pick Jimmy Garoppolo, the former Eastern Illinois standout, plenty of the field against Washington. Garoppolo completed nine of his 13 pass attempts for 157 yards and a touchdown, which went to another top performer, WR Brian Tymes (5 catches, 119 yards, TD), in the fourth quarter of play. The TD went for 26 yards with about a minute and a half to play in the game.

Brandon Weeden, Cowboys QB

With Tony Romo (back) sitting out Dallas’ preseason debut, the former failed Cleveland Browns’ failed starting QB Brandon Weeden got the start as Dallas’ second-string signal caller. It appears that the rest of Weeden’s NFL career will be spent as a backup quarterback, which could end up suiting the 30-year old. Weeden threw for 107 yards and a touchdown––the lone Dallas TD of the game––on 13 of 17 passing in the 27-7 loss to San Diego.

Matt Scott, Bengals QB

Scott went undrafted in last year’s draft and spent the 2013 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars before being claimed off-waivers by the Bengals. Scott, a mobile quarterback who played in an option offense at the University of Arizona, looked impressive in his Bengals debut last night despite currently serving as the team’s fourth-string quarterback. Scott threw 66 yards and a pair of TDs on 7/11 passing, adding another 68 yards on the ground.

Lache Seastrunk, Redskins RB (R)

Behind Pro Bowl running back Alfred Morris, the Washington Redskins have a couple of rookie running backs fighting for a spot on the RB depth chart this fall. Seastrunk, the former Baylor teammate of RGIII’s, showed up his fellow rookie RB Silas Redd by rushing for 63 yards on 12 carries. He showed a lot of burst up the middle and great field vision with the ball in his hands against New England’s second and third-string defenders. Although Seastrunk and Redd (9 carries, 45 yards) aren’t battling for the No. 1 spot, they are both battling with Roy Helu for carries in their rookie campaign. Round one goes to Seastrunk.

Branden Oliver, Chargers RB (R)

At 5’8″/200 pounds and undrafted in May’s NFL Draft, the former University at Buffalo product has a lot to prove in training camp over the next few weeks. Whether or not he’ll make the final roster is still yet to be seen, but his performance against the Cowboys on Thursday night surely doesn’t hurt his chances. With 64 yards and a 16-yard touchdown run on his seven carries, Oliver out-performed fellow rookie RB Marion Grice (14 carries, 35 yards). Though neither Oliver nor Grice will be getting a ton of carries this season if they make the team––Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown are all ahead of them on the depth chart––it’s still nice to see an undrafted RB have a solid preseason debut, right?

Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens RB (R)

Well, let’s face it. After last night, the rookie back out of Coastal Carolina may have taken a step forward in terms of playing time during the first two games while RB Ray Rice is suspended. Not only did Taliaferro garner the most carries in Baltimore’s 23-3 victory over San Francisco, but he ran for 71 yards on those 13 carries of his (5.5 yards/carry) and was seemingly the only Baltimore back who didn’t struggle to secure the football. Not a bad pro debut for the 22-year old fourth round pick.

Dontrelle Inman, Chargers WR

Inman is a Grey Cup champion, as he spent the last two season’s with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts. He signed with San Diego this off-season and is now in the mix for the team’s fifth WR spot. He out-performed all the other SD wideouts last night, catching a trio of passes for 107 yards and a touchdown, that went for 70 yards from QB Kellen Clemens (5/5, 134 yards, 1 TD).

Brian Tyms, Patriots WR

Could we have witnessed the next Kenbrell Thompkins and/or Josh Boyce from a season ago? Tyms, 25, went undrafted in 2012 and has spent time with the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns in his first two seasons in the league. But we all know how Belichick and his offensive system can turn no-named wideouts into households names, so perhaps this is just the start for Tyms in NE? He caught five passes for 119 yards and a TD in last night’s loss, and he currently is in a battle for a WR spot behind Danny Amendola and the aforementioned Thompkins and Boyce. Keep an eye on him over the next three weeks.

Others:

Redskins QBs Kirk Cousins & Colt McCoy: combined 17/22, 205 yards, 2 TD
Jets QB Matt Simms: 13/18, 96 yards
Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck: 10/15, 114 yards, TD
Chiefs (R) RB De’Anthony Thomas: 80-yard PR TD
Chiefs TE Travis Kelce: 69-yard TD catch
Ravens K Justin Tucker: 3/3 FGs, Long: 55 yards

Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

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