After five weeks of pre-season football, there have been a few pleasant surprises for General Managers around the National Football League. There have also been a few nasty shocks on and off the field that will make week one of the regular season even more interesting.
Lockett to shine?
Rookies are always interesting to watch as some make the step up to pro football seamlessly, others however, have a more difficult time of it. None have made the move better than Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett. Lockett was drafted by the Seahawks in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Kansas State becoming the 69 overall pick.
Seattle traded their third, fourth, fifth and sixth round picks (95, 112, 167 and 181 overall) to the Washington Redskins to move up to 69 in order to select Lockett. They weren’t disappointed and immediately saw return on investment with a 103-yard kick return touchdown in their opener versus the Denver Broncos.
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While many rookies usually take a backseat to regular starters, we could see Lockett on the starting roster for their week one opener at the St. Louis Rams. It’s always dangerous to buy into the hype around young players before they’ve even played a snap of football in the regular season but fans in Seattle may have reason to be quietly confident.
Coping without Nelson
As young players begin to show their worth, veterans of the sport continue the grind. Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is no exception but his 2015 NFL season has been cut short. Nelson tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in a 24-19 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in week two of pre-season.
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The Packers' wide receiver is a popular choice of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and with him out for the season it leaves Randall Cobb as the number one choice receiver. It looks like second year wide receiver Davante Adams will most likely slot into the position vacated by Nelson as other options Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis are inexperienced.
Patriots marching on
The pre-season has been just as exciting off the field as on it. The ‘Deflategate’ saga continues in the form of an overturn of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension. The original ban came after an investigation into the deflation of balls during the 2015 AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Patriots were beginning to get to grips with using their 2014 second round draft pick quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He might have been able to do the job for the first four games but against opposition like the Steelers and Cowboys, New England fans will be quietly relieved to have their leader back.
It puts a whole new spin on the start of the defending champions' season. With Brady back the team will have their confidence back and will quickly try and forget the 'deflategate' saga that dominated their offseason.
So what does this mean for the regular season? Rookie Tyler Lockett adds to an already impressive Seahawks offense that is just as strong if not stronger than last season fuelled with the bitter disappointment of their Super Bowl XLIX defeat.
The Packers will have to adjust to life without Jordy Nelson which may prove difficult for the Wisconsin outfit. On the contrary, the New England Patriots are back to their full roster with the return of Tom Brady. They are keen to repeat their success of last season and look to do so with a win at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week one.