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The NFL preseason is obviously not about the game’s stars. We all know what the big-name players and veterans can do, and teams simply have too much money invested in their stars — and their starters, for that matter — to risk playing them much in games that don’t count.
And Cole might not have even been the most impressive undrafted free agent in his game. Patriots tight end Jacob Hollister caught seven passes for 116 yards in the Patriots loss.
There were other UFAs who played well Thursday night, but the point is, it’s only one game, and a preseason game. It’s too easy to read too much into any preseason contest. Some fans and media have already raised their Twitter torches and pitchforks, ready to run new Bears quarterback Mike Glennon out of Chicago after a bad performance Thursday night.
But for the undrafted free agents, a big game can be the difference between achieving their NFL dream, and ending up working a routine 9-to-5 job. Some of these players will continue to shine in the preseason and china wholesale jerseys make their team’s roster. The vast majority will not make the final cut and will fade into obscurity.
But for one night, underdog players such as Cole, Stringfellow and Hollister looked great, and are still chasing their dream.
Freeman, who agreed to terms Wednesday on a $41.25 million, five-year contract extension, scored to cap the Falcons’ first preseason possession. New offensive coordinator Steve Sarkasian’s unit drove 36 yards for the touchdown after a 39-yard punt return by newcomer Andre Roberts.
The Dolphins’ exhibition season began badly. Second-round draft pick Raekwon McMillan, the front-runner to start at middle linebacker, hurt his right knee on Roberts’ punt return and walked to the locker room accompanied by trainers.
Finally, the beleaguered Browns may have something.
Garrett showed flashes of dominance in his first preseason game, and Cleveland rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer threw a late touchdown pass and the Browns rallied to beat New Orleans 20-14 on Thursday night while Saints stars Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson watched.
The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Garrett had a tackle for loss and blazed off the edge to pressure Saints backup QB Garrett Grayson in the first half.
The Falcons, who blew a 28-3 advantage against New England in last season’s Super Bowl, this time let a 20-10 fourth-quarter lead get away.
Starters for both teams saw little or no action. New Miami quarterback Jay Cutler sat out, and backup Matt Moore played one series, which went three-and-out after confusion forced the Dolphins to call timeout before their first snap.
Ryan played one series and went 3 for 3, hitting three receivers for 32 yards. His touchdown pass came on fourth and 1, when he faked a handoff to Freeman, who then circled out of the backfield to make the catch in the flat and score untouched.
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With his performance, Kizer may have closed the gap on Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler. The trio have been competing throughout training camp, but Jackson isn’t ready to make one of them his starter.
And while New Orleans can count on the 38-year-old Brees to lead them, the Browns’ QB search is still stalled.
Osweiler started and struggled during his four series, Cody Kessler didn’t do much to help his cause and Kizer shook off a slow start, played the entire second half and showed off his strong arm.
The NFL preseason is about guys like Keelan Cole. The Jaguars rookie wide receiver, an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky Wesleyan, is fighting for a roster spot in Jacksonville. He’s not currently listed in the top six on the Jags’ WR depth chart, but he might have helped his chances in the Jags’ preseason opener against the Patriots. Cole hauled in a 97-yard TD pass from Chad Henne, turning on the afterburners for the final 60 yards.