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10 NFL pre-season takeaways

For hardcore NFL fans such as myself, the start of the pre-season is like Christmas morning for children. We wait for eight months to watch NFL football and although it is mostly third and fourth-string players for the majority, there are still things we can take away.

Here are the 10 major things I learnt from the first games of the 2022 NFL pre-season.

1. Fans love to overreact

This is always the case and I understand it. Fans wait for so long and want to dissect as much as possible from the things we have seen. But for Miami Dolphins fans to want Skylar Thompson to start over Tua Tagovailoa thanks to one good pre-season performance is crazy.

This isn’t the only example, but probably the most prominent across Twitter. Enjoy the games but try not to overreact.

2. Travis Etienne shapes as the key to the Jaguars offence

When the Jaguars drafted Etienne 25th overall in the 2021 NFL draft, it made some fans scratch their heads. Struck with a season-ending foot injury at training camp last season, the intrigue grew. Etienne helped clear the picture the Jaguars saw against the Browns.

Despite not having the greatest game statistically (nine runs for 23 yards, one catch for 10 yards), Etienne looked dynamic and his Clemson chemistry with Trevor Lawrence was strong.

3. Pittsburgh don’t miss on middle round WRs

Antonio Brown (sixth round), JuJu Smith-Schuster (second round), Dionte Johnson (third round), Chase Claypool (second round), Emmanuel Sanders (third round) and now George Pickens (second round). These are just some of the elite wide receivers the Pittsburgh Steelers have drafted outside of the first round in the last 10 years.

Pickens was the talk of Steelers training camp and backed up the hype against Seattle, catching three passes for 43 yards and a beautiful touchdown catch.

4. Jalen Hurts looks ready

Despite the Eagles eventually losing to the New York Jets, fans’ nights were made after the first offensive drive. Jalen Hurts looked awesome from the very first play, finding Quez Watkins on a roll out throw for 28 yards.

He finished his drive 6/6 for 80 yards and a touchdown, including a rushing touchdown cancelled out thanks to an offensive holding penalty. If this is a sign of things to come, Philly are going to be very good!

5. Evan McPherson will eventually be on Justin Tucker’s level

You know it’s week one of pre-season when we are discussing potential kicking legacy, but this kid is unbelievable. We saw this last year in the playoffs, where he broke the NFL record for most 50-plus field goals made in a playoff run, however he doubled down against Arizona.

He made 3/3 field goals, including hits from 56 and 58 yards with ease.

(Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

6. Rookie offensive linemen take time!

We saw some first-round offensive tackles in Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal and Trevor Penning in action and all of them struggle in patches. Penning had a PFF pass blocking grade of 28.6 on 28 snaps, conceding multiple sacks. But guess what, this is normal! Offensive linemen and cornerbacks are liable to mistakes and the pre-season is the time to do this.

This comes back to my first point, but these guys aren’t busts, don’t overreact.

7. The San Francisco 49ers know what they are doing

The Jimmy Garoppolo saga had some people questioning the direction of the 49ers, but Trey Lance helped put minds at ease. He was 4/5 for 92 yards including an absolute laser to rookie Danny Gray for a 76-yard touchdown. He showed flashes in the pre-season last season, but this feels different to me. Lance looks like he can truly be the franchise guy.

8. Dameon Pierce is the Texans’ best choice at running back

A fourth-round rookie coming in and being the No.1 option? Absolutely.

He showed great talent at Florida last season but didn’t get the exposure of the big names like Breece Hall and Ken Walker. But Pierce showed what he can do against the Saints, going for 49 yards on his only five carries of the game.

Pierce got praise from head coach Lovie Smith after the game and despite Marlion Mack being the projected starter, Pierce is the guy!

9. Injuries are so scary

Seeing young players such as Drake London and Zach Wilson go down with knee injuries put a dampener on the weekend. Both players have been cleared of major damage (thankfully), but despite the NFL pre-season being an exciting time of the year, it comes with its dangers. Everyone has fingers crossed for the best health possible over the next two weeks!

10. Quarterback battles make everything interesting

Three NFL teams have “open” quarterback competitions. I put the quotation marks in because I truly believe my Carolina Panthers already have their minds made on Baker Mayfield but won’t admit it. But the Steelers-Seahawks game was awesome viewing, seeing Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett go head-to-head with Geno Smith and Drew Lock.

I was hanging on every play during this game and the fact a late game fumble from Lock could seal his fate makes the pre-season way more interesting!

Comment down below some of your pre-season takeaways and any questions you may have about your team.

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