- Ja'Tyre Carter 2023 debut: He has posted the third-highest PFF grade among all offensive players thus far this preseason at 93.9.
- Eli Ricks takes one back: On the back of a pick-six in his first NFL action, Ricks is pushing hard for a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles‘ 53-man roster.
- A.T. Perry thriving in New Orleans: Even though New Orleans isn't short on receiver talent, Perry could play his way into a meaningful role in Year 1.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Week 2 of the NFL preseason is upon us and plenty of players have already flashed their abilities, and some have created opportunities for themselves more than others. Let's dive into a few players who have earned more playing time with their early preseason efforts.
The 227th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft has posted the third-highest PFF grade among all offensive players thus far this preseason at 93.9. The second-year guard out of Southern University didn’t allow a pressure on 20 pass-blocking snaps and ended the Bears' first preseason game with a 91.3 run-blocking grade. On both of the team's 50-plus-yard touchdowns, Carter was out in space lead blocking and showcasing his athleticism. While the Bears' interior is solidified with Teven Jenkins and Nate Davis, Jenkins has a long history of injuries and Davis hasn’t practiced for most of camp with an injury. If Carter keeps playing well, he could provide the depth that the Bears' offensive line has needed for so long.
Ricks, the 124th player on PFF's big board, went undrafted and signed with the Eagles almost immediately after the draft. In his first preseason game, he was targeted five times but allowed just two receptions for 21 yards. Ricks forced an incompletion and read an out route like a book, resulting in a pick-six. It’s easy to see what made him a top recruit coming out of high school, and with more reps in the upcoming weeks, he has a great shot make the Eagles' 53-man roster.
Perry played 28 snaps in the Saints' first preseason game and hauled in six catches on as many targets for 70 yards and a touchdown — can’t get much more productive than that in your first game action. The rookie won at all three levels of the field, totaling 19 yards after the catch. After measuring in at 6-foot-3 and running a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at the combine, Perry displayed that size and speed on a 29-yard touchdown. Despite an impressive performance, he landed on a team that puts him behind Chris Olave, Michael Thomas and Rashid Shaheed on the depth chart. Perry will have to continue dominating the preseason if he wants to carve out a role in his rookie year.
Benton fell to the 50th pick in the 2023 draft, and it’s already hard to see why after his first appearance. The rookie created two pressures on 16 pass-rushing snaps and looked very impressive in the run game. It wasn’t perfect, and there were a couple of run plays where he was moved off of his spot quite a bit, but the flashes were evident, as he finished with three tackles for loss or no gain. He ended the game with a 74.0 PFF grade and played with a high motor — an excellent way to get Mike Tomlin’s attention. It’s not going to be perfect, but first-year GM Omar Kahn might have found a gem.
Spiller enters his second year in the league as a fourth-round pick and only played 53 snaps last season. It can’t be easy to play meaningful snaps when you’re working behind Austin Ekeler, but he certainly impressed on his eight rushing attempts last week. Spiller showed impressive vision and patience in his limited playing time, rushing for 113 yards (two rushes for 10-plus yards) and a touchdown that was ultimately called back. There have been a lot of questions about Spiller's speed since the 2022 draft cycle, but he showed great burst and long speed on the touchdown run.