NFL.com gives a breakdown of what fans need to know from Week 1 of the 2023 NFL preseason. Catch up on the biggest takeaways from each game, according to experts in the League.
1. Texans WR Tank Dell should push for more playing time. The rookie sent Patriots defensive backs into a tizzy every time. Dell was a blur, deploying quick moves to separate and hit another gear after the catch. In 17 routes run, he caught 5 of 8 targets for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Even when he was not being targeted, he was always open. Dell unleashed hell on short routes, getting open off the line, giving the Quarterback an easy target. On three of his five receptions, he generated 3-plus yards of separation, per Nex Gen Stats. He capped off the night with an acrobatic touchdown grab.
Although the ball slipped through his hands initially, he stayed with the play, pinning it to his leg for the score before sliding out of bounds. In a Texans receiver corps heralded by Nico Collins, Robert Woods, John Metchie III and Noah Brown, Dell may push for snaps, specifically from the slot. The Texans moved him around Thursday (14 wide, three slots). The question was always his size. If he proves he can get off press coverage when the competition becomes heated, he should be a guy who improves as the season progresses.
2. Patriots DE Keion White shines in his preseason debut. Keion was all over the pitch early, destabilizing the Texans’ offense. The DE used unique athletics to overpower Houston’s backup tackles, spinning three tackles, two pressures and QB hit.
On a botched Houston pitch, White descended on the backfield, tearing through running back Dare Ogunbowale so they could not retrieve the ball, allowing New England to pounce on the pigskin. Keion has a high-level upside if he stays consistent. His performance exemplifies the depth New England boasts upfront.
Linebacker Anfernee Jennings was a problem too, and defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale made a fantastic move for an early sack. Yes, they faced the mess which was a Houston O-line that was playing backups, but the young Patriots reserves indicate that they could bring juice. They should be dangerous in 2023.
3. C.J. Stroud struggled. The No. 2 overall pick played only two series, throwing an interception on the opening drive. Stroud was under fire on his dropbacks and looked slow to fight back. Mills ran the offense with more rhythm than C.J. Stroud’s first night under the NFL lights, as shown here, was a tough one thanks mainly to White and the Patriots’ pass rush.
1. Seattle’s rookies looked good in their preseason debut. The Seahawks’ defense reminded fans of last season’s challenges, getting hit in the gut continuously It is a sign the depth on D is not up to snuff, especially at linebacker, but given starters did not play, and it is August 10, getting worked up about it looks premature.
Focusing on the young athletes’ potentials – First-round wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba was not prolific (three catches, 25 yards), but his 15-yard snag over the middle showed how he could eat alongside big dogs like Dk Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Running back Zach Charbonnet boasted some angry runs, moving over defenders and brandished pass-catching ability.
Fifth-round centre Oluwatimi looked good and could push Evan Brown at the pivot. Second-round outside linebacker Derrick Hall showed some pop as a rusher. Defensive end Mike Morris bulldozed his way for two QB pressures. Even undrafted wideout Jake Bobo stood out, leading the Seahawks with 55 yards and a touchdown. This was all in the absence of top draft pick Devon Witherspoon (hamstring injury). The road ahead is long, but if Seattle gets its rookies to be productive, it could be dangerous in a wide-open NFC.
2. Minnesota’s RB Ty Chandler gets a heavy workload vying for the RB2 role. The Vikings entered the first 2023 NFL preseason game planning to show off Chandler. The 2022 first-round pick, who missed most of his rookie season due to a thumb injury, took a hands-on approach from the beginning. He played 78.4% of the first-half snaps, generating 70 scrimmage yards on 15 touches – 11 carries for 41 yards, four catches for 29 yards.
Behind solid blocking, Chandler showed he could move north-south, and patience following blocks turned out well. Pass-catching ability will help the Vikings score more snaps in the regular season. With Alexander Mattison in line to take over the starting role following the departure of Dalvin Cook, the question going into preseason was how the rest of the committee would shake out. Ty made his case emphatically in Seattle.