Mason Thompson Aug 5th, 2019
To the average viewer, the preseason seems pointless. To the organizations and diehard fans though, the preseason is paramount. The four games serve as a chance for young and old players to prove that they belong on a team, whether it be the one they play on during the preseason or another team that noticed their talent. Many players’ hopes of playing in the NFL can come crashing down after the fourth game when cuts are made while some players take advantage of the playing time that they are given and make an NFL roster. Every week I will be highlighting some players that have taken the time given to prove that they belong. This week’s article details some players that impressed during the Hall of Fame game on Thursday.
Malik Reed, EDGE, Denver Broncos
The undrafted rookie from Nevada had 16 sacks, 25.5 tackles for loss and eight forced fumbles during his junior and senior seasons. Even with all of that production, Reed still went undrafted. Reed signed with Denver following the draft and has been stellar so far during camp. With Von Miller and Bradley Chubb not suiting up, he was given a majority of the snap count and didn’t disappoint. Reed finished the night with four tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, and a quarterback hit. Reed has a chance at making the roster if he keeps this up as the team is looking for depth behind their two bookend stars on the edge.
Kurt Benkert, QB, Atlanta Falcons
The second-year pro from Virginia who went undrafted finally had his chance to shine on Thursday night. Battling for the backup role with veteran Matt Schaub, Benkert definitely looked like the better player. Benkert went 19/34 for 185 yards and a touchdown while Schaub went 4/14 for ten yards and an interception. Benkert definitely proved he has potential in this league. Unfortunately for Benkert, he injured his toe on a play-action pass where the running back appeared to have stepped on his foot. On Saturday, the toe injury was said to be “major” and may have been the deciding factor for the Falcons to sign Matt Simms. Benkert is likely to sit out the rest of the preseason and could find himself on the roster just because of the action shown in the one game he played, or on the PUP to begin the season if the injury is that brutal.
Khalfani Muhammad, RB, Denver Broncos
Muhammed made a case for the Broncos to keep him on the roster as the fourth running back behind Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, and the newly signed Theo Riddick. He finished the night not only as the team’s leading rusher but the leading receiver as well. He finished the night rushing for 50 yards on seven attempts(over seven yards per carry) and a touchdown along with four catches for 24 yards. He will have to battle with Devontae Booker for the final running back spot. Booker has been on the team longer but didn’t have a carry in the Hall of Fame game. Muhammed has more explosiveness and ability as a receiver and could be used as a returner as well.
Brian Hill, RB, Atlanta Falcons
The third-year Wyoming product is finally putting together a strong offseason and it showed on Thursday night. There is a strong competition currently for who will open the season as Devonta Freeman‘s backup between Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison, and Hill. Hill got the most opportunities and made the most of them as he finished the night with 11 carries for 57 yards and added a touchdown catch. With the surplus of injuries the team has compiled at the position in recent years, Hill could definitely wind up on the roster by the end of the preseason and could have a hand in passing work once the season opens.
Juwann Winfree, WR, Denver Broncos
The rookie sixth-rounder from Colorado had an up and down day. Early in the game, he had a drop but made up for it later when he caught the game-winning touchdown with a little over a minute remaining in the game. Winfree has an easier track to the roster than most would think considering the Broncos depth after the top three receivers on the team. Winfree has to battle with the likes of Tim Patrick, Trinity Benson, Bug Howard, Fred Brown, and Steven Dunbar to earn a spot on the roster.
John Cominsky, Defensive End, Atlanta Falcons
The Charleston product had himself a game this past Thursday showing that he may have been a value in the fourth round from this year’s draft. Cominsky was playing in front of friends and family as he grew up about twenty minutes away from Tom Benson Stadium. He finished the game with a tackle for a loss, a sack, and a fumble recovery after a muffed punt. Cominsky comes in at six-foot-five, 285 pounds and ran a 4.69 40-yard dash time, making him an intriguing prospect that can play at defensive end in base defenses, an edge rusher, or a down interior defensive lineman. The Falcons have a lot of depth on the defensive line and Dan Quinn loves players that can play multiple roles on defense. Cominsky should make the team and provide valuable depth on the defensive line while also assisting on special teams.
Tune into next week’s batch of players that should be a little larger due to a full slate of games instead of just one.
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