Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks — Many around the Seattle Seahawks have referred to the last few weeks as “The summer of Christine Michael,” given the buzz he’s generated in training camps, and the performances he’s had in Seattle’s first two preseason games. In those two games, he’s rushed for a total of 99 yards on 17 carries; his most important accomplishment, however, is the professionalism that he showed while putting up those stats. His teammates and coaches have all commented on how Michael has matured and devoted much more time to becoming a better football player. Depending on how starting running back Thomas Rawls emerges from rehabbing his injury, Michael’s performance in the preseason could lead to him getting more snaps in the regular season as well.
Terrell Pryor, WR, Cleveland — Between first round pick Corey Coleman and the return of Josh Gordon, Terrelle Pryor is actually the wide receiver in Cleveland who’s been generating the most buzz for his performance on the football field. In the Browns first preseason game, Pryor caught hauled in Robert Griffin III’s first pass as a member of the Browns, which was a deep 49 yard completion that he had to dive for, in order to make the catch. Pryor actually injured his hand in the first preseason game and had x-rays during the week, but that clearly didn’t slow him down any in the Browns second preseason game. For an encore, Pryor ran right past Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant of the Atlanta Falcons midway through the first quarter, and caught a 50 yards touchdown pass from Griffin. He only has three receptions this preseason, but two of them are already for 40 or more yards.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati — Boyd only had one catch in the Bengals first preseason game against the Vikings, but it was an impressive one; his 40-yard catch down the sideline helped put the Bengals in scoring position (they scored a touchdown on tht drive, tying the game in the second quarter). In the Bengals second preseason game (against Detroit), Boyd got the start opposite of star receiver A.J. Green, and caught three passes (on five targets) for 78 yards and touchdown. He had a diving 26 yard catch on the Bengals second drive, and then caught a 12-yard touchdown from backup quarterback A.J. McCarron right before halftime. Boyd will likely be behind veteran receiver Brandon Tate on the depth chart when the season starts, but if the Bengals to go more three wide receiver formations while tight end Tyler Eifer recovers from injury, Boyd could see a lot of playing time early on in the season.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee — Mariota’s performance in the Titans first preseason game against San Diego got overshadowed by the 167 yards rushing on 16 carries between running backs DeMarco Murray an Derrick Henry, but Mariota was actually completed all five passes he threw in that game (for 45 yards). In Tennessee’s second preseason game against Carolina, Mariota went 9-for-10 for 104 yards and a touchdown (the one pass that Mariota didn’t complete, ironically, was an interception). He’s finished with a passer rating of over 103 in both games, and has developed a strong rapport with rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe (the team’s fifth round pick, who already has eight catches for 103 yards himself). The Titans may be a ground-and-pound team under head coach Mike Mularkey, but Mariota continues to emerge as a young quarterback.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas — Here’s how you know that Dak Prescott is having a good preseason: his quarterback rating through two games is 158.3. What’s the highest possible quarterback rating? 158.3. Through two preseason games, Prescott has gone 22 of 27 for 338 yards and four touchdowns (with no interceptions); that’s not even mentioning the 41 yards rushing on five carries he’s added, either. But, it’s not just about a sexy stat line, as far as Prescott’s performance. The poise, touch, and accuracy he’s shown as a passer are far from what you’re used to seeing from rookie quarterbacks. The Cowboys have long been searching for a backup to Tony Romo (if not an outright heir apparent), and from the early looks of it, they might’ve found one in Prescott.