Bills vs. Vikings: Rookies to Watch in Preseason Showdown
When the Bills and the Vikings meet in their second preseason games of the season, they will both be looking for wins, but more importantly, they will be looking at how their rookies are developing.
Preseason wins and losses don't tell us much—the Cleveland Browns just beat the Green Bay Packers 35-10 (don't see that happening in the regular season). However, it does offer a chance to see how rookies are adjusting to life in the NFL and whether they can be contributors right away.
These are the rookies that will be trying to prove themselves in their second preseason game.
T.J. Graham, WR, Buffalo Bills
The Bills' value was marked with a slew of high-value picks, but using a third-round pick on Graham may have been the best value of them all.
The speedster out of North Carolina State is a promising prospect with the speed to stretch the field and is competing for the second wide receiver position opposite Steve Johnson. If Graham is able to seize that opportunity, he could have one of the best rookie seasons in his class.
Graham made his mark in his time on the field in the preseason opener—leading all Bills receivers with 37 yards on three catches despite inconsistent quarterback play.
Look for Graham to try to impress again as he establishes himself as a functioning part of the Bills offense.
Jarius Wright, WR, Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are also auditioning various wide receivers for the position alongside a playmaker, as the team has few proven options outside of Percy Harvin at the position.
Wright finds himself right in the mix, especially with fellow fourth-round draft pick and former Arkansas Razorback Greg Childs out for the season with a knee injury.
Unlike Graham, Wright certainly didn't help himself in the preseason opener. Wright had zero receptions on three targets as the Vikings offense struggled in a 17-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Fortunately for Wright, he has three more preseason games to make an impression, but another bad performance against the Vikings, and he could be in the dog house permanently,
Tank Carder, MLB, Buffalo Bills
Carder was another extremely valuable pick for the Bills, as they selected the former TCU Horned Frog in the fifth round.
While Carder isn't an extremely gifted athlete, he has great instincts and always finds a way to be productive. With only three inside linebackers on the roster, Carder is always an injury or two away from filling in as a starter, so the Bills will need to know he is ready.
Carder impressed in his first preseason game, finishing with four tackles and flowing to the ball well. Carder should continue to impress as the preseason wears on.
Harrison Smith, S, Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings traded back into the first round to get Notre Dame product Harrison Smith, so it's clear that they are high on him as a potential starter from day one.
Smith should bring a playmaking dimension to the secondary that the Vikings have lacked in recent years and should lock up a starting position with a solid preseason.
Smith made his presence known with a tackle behind the line of scrimmage that showed his range on the field that the Vikings loved. Expect Smith to see even more snaps in the second preseason game and be a bit more productive.
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