NFL Preseason: Most Impressive Week One Performances
Following six long football-less months, NFL fans finally have something to be excited about. Even if it's only the preseason.
Preseason has turned into a four week evaluation as opposed to anything resembling the type of football we're used to seeing in the regular season.
Preseason success doesn't always translate into success when the games really matter, but as a football fan, anything positive is a reason to get excited for the upcoming season.
This slideshow will showcase the top performances of the first week of the 2010 NFL preseason.
Dennis Dixon, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Although it appears Byron Leftwich appears to be locked into the opening day starter, if Dennis Dixon can continuously perform as he did on Saturday, it will be hard for the Steelers to keep him on the sidelines.
Following four unsuccessful drives for Byron Leftwich, Dixon was given an opportunity midway through the second quarter.
Dixon finished the game completing 6 of 7 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown, while adding 31 rushing yards.
More impressive is the fact that the Steelers scored on three of Dixon's four offensive possessions, each of which starting deep in Pittsburgh territory.
Mike Nolan, Defensive Coordinator, Miami Dolphins
Quite possibly the most impressive performance of the weekend, the Dolphins defense, not previously known for creating turnovers, forced seven fumbles, an interception and deflected four passes.
Similarly to his impact on the Broncos in 2009, Mike Nolan appears to have made an immediate improvement on the defensive unit in Miami. It doesn't hurt that he has a wealth of young talent to work with, but it's hard to ignore the improvement from 2009.
Holding the Buccaneers to a single score, while creating four turnovers is an impressive feat for any game of the season, but to do so in the very first game should raise alarms for the rest of the AFC East.
Daryl Washington, LB, Arizona Cardinals
Entering the preseason as a third-string linebacker, expectations for Washington's rookie season are limited among the Cardinals coaching staff.
However, following his first preseason performance, Washington showed the Cardinals exactly why he was drafted 47th overall.
The former TCU linebacker amassed 13 tackles despite taking the majority of his snaps in the second half.
Washington took the majority of his snaps against other third string players, so most Cardinal fans should reserve their excitement for the time being. That said, whether you're playing against first or third stringers, accumulating 13 tackles, a fumble recovering and a pass deflection shows you the type of natural ability that Washington possesses.
He was drafted for his speed and his ability to go from sideline to sideline, and on Saturday night, all that ability was put on display.
Sage Rosenfels, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Reports from Minnesota suggested that Sage Rosenfels could be showcased for a trade in their first preseason game of 2010.
Not only did Sage Rosenfels showcase his ability as an NFL quarterback, but he may have caused the Vikings to reconsider their initial stance on his future.
With Brett Favre's return, but more importantly, his health as a major question mark heading into the 2010 season, the Vikings may not be able to part ways with a quarterback capable of accumulating 310 passing yards and three touchdowns in fewer than three quarters of football.
Entering the 2009 season, Sage Rosenfels appeared to be the future of the Vikings offense. In 2010, if Farve stays in Hattiesburg, Rosenfels could finally get his chance.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
In a 20 minutes of football, Aaron Rodgers showed exactly why 2010 could be a season where he leads the league in numerous passing categories.
Completing 12 of 13 passes, Rodgers looked to be in midseason form, accumulating 159 passing yards and a touchdown.
With the exception of the Bears, defenses in the NFC North haven't improved much for the 2010 campaign. Outings similar to Saturday's could become a regularity for Aaron Rodgers this season.
Rodgers should be given strong consideration as the first quarterback off the board in fantasy leagues.
Javier Arenas, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
Javier Arenas posted impressive returning stats in his first preseason game, with three returns for 85 total yards. However, had it not been for a holding call, Arenas would have added a 99-yard kick return for a touchdown.
The more notable returning threat, Dexter McCluster, was thoroughly outshined by his former SEC counterpart. Both showing great burst and speed, but Arenas' ability to read coverage and get downfield on kick returns is something to behold.
Arenas also added three tackles as a member of the secondary, not looking out of place amongst Atlanta's third-team offense.
Troy Williamson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Troy Williamson is often the fastest player on the football field, but rarely is it as obvious as it was on Friday night.
Williamson made only two catches, but certainly made them count. First, a 73 yard touchdown catch, followed by a 29-yard pass, both coming from Luke McCown.
Williamson isn't likely to be a starter in the Jaguars receiving corps, but there is no doubt he will see action as their primary deep threat. Friday's performance just reconfirmed his breakaway speed and ability to get open in coverage downfield.
Jimmy Clausen, QB, Carolina Panthers
Clausen's numbers didn't accurately tell the story of his first opportunity as an NFL quarterback.
His 80 yards passing, 50 percent completion rating and throwing an interception doesn't typically accompany a stellar performance as a quarterback, but Jimmy Clausen definitely turned some heads in Carolina.
Perhaps it was the low expectations for the rookie, perhaps it was the poor performance from Matt Moore. Whatever it was, Jimmy Clausen looks to have taken the inside lane on potentially becoming a starter in 2010.
He was composed in the pocket, despite continuous pressure from the Ravens' defense and great coverage from the Ravens secondary. His passes were crisp, powerful and on target. In short, Jimmy Clausen looked like a real NFL quarterback.
Second and third team players on the Baltimore defense would likely start on most NFL teams, so his performance should be an accurate representation of his abilities.
Devin McCourty, DB, New England Patriots
Although Devin McCourty's returning statistics weren't as impressive as fellow rookie Javier Arenas, his performance need not be overlooked.
At Rutgers, McCourty was valuable, not only as a cornerback, but on both sides of the return game. Upon his debut with New England, it appeared as though McCourty would be able to fill the same roles with New England.
In 2009, the Patriots return game accounted for one kick return of more than 50 yards. In his debut, McCourty doubled the Patriots 2009 season total by posting two returns of 50 and 52 yards, both starting at the Patriots three yard line.
With all the abilities of their offense, if the Patriots can now rely on great starting field position, McCourty could have a monumental impact for the team in 2010.
In coverage, McCourty held his own against New Orleans third-string offense.
Anthony Dixon, RB, San Francisco 49ers
With 21 carries and three pass receptions, Anthony Dixon could have seen the heaviest workload in NFL.
The majority of his carries coming against second and third stringers, Dixon's 103 rushing yards should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, his power and ability to break arm tackles was hard to ignore in his NFL debut.
What's more, on Friday, Dixon was abruptly moved up the depth chart from the Niners third-string running back, to being Frank Gore's primary backup.
With very limited time to prepare mentally or physically, the performance from the sixth0-round pick is nothing short of impressive.
With Frank Gore's injury problems throughout his career, I'm sure many members of the 49ers organization breathed a sigh of relief upon witnessing the performance by their rookie backup.