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Rookie watch: Seahawks' Christine Michael impresses

Heading into Thursday's preseason action, we picked out five NFL rookies we couldn't wait to watch. Let's see how they fared:

Christine Michael, Seahawks running back


We knew Michael would see plenty of work. He came through with a 16-carry, 89-yard showing in San Diego, with 66 yards coming in the second half after Michael struggled out of the gate.

"We weren't going to get frustrated with what happened early, and just (kept) sticking to it," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "He's got a long way to go, but he ran hard, looked quick and made some guys miss."

Matt Elam, Ravens safety


We hoped to see more of Elam against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he was relatively invisible. He notched two combined tackles and should see an increased role in Baltimore's next three preseason games. We still view Elam as a potential Week 1 starter.

Barkevious Mingo, Browns outside linebacker


Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski came away impressed with Mingo's debut. The lanky pass rusher recorded two quarterback hits and a sack that was wiped out by the Browns accepting a St. Louis Rams tripping penalty.

"I watched him every play," linebacker D'Qwell Jackson told The Plain Dealer, "and he's got a knack for getting after that quarterback. He has a motor, and that's something you can't teach."

Montee Ball, Broncos running back

As expected, Ball followed Ronnie Hillman in Denver's rotation. Neither back churned out much yardage, with Ball accounting for just 9 yards on five carries. The Broncos' line struggled to open holes early. The pistol couldn't save them either, but undrafted rookie runner C.J. Anderson provided a late spark, with 69 yards on 15 carries.

Vance McDonald,
49ers tight end


Solid start for McDonald, who led San Francisco with four catches for 66 yards. He was hampered by drops, but we're seeing proof that offensive coordinator Greg Roman plans to lean heavily on Delanie Walker's replacement.

Other performances of note:

Chance Warmack, Titans offensive guard


Tennessee's rebuilt line was a revelation, but Warmack struggled in his NFL debut. SI's Peter King noted the behemoth was "pushed back badly" on his first snap and "mugged" by Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan for a sack just two plays later.

"There were some things I did that I thought I could get away with, in terms of technique," Warmack said. "I learned that you gotta use it a little bit differently. We had a down block on '22 Power' and I used the wrong technique and got embarrassed because of it."

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Tavon Austin, Rams wide receiver


Austin was quiet in the loss to the Browns. He dropped a Sam Bradford pass that he probably should have caught. We saw more production from Austin's former West Virginia teammate, Stedman Bailey, who came on late with two catches for 27 yards. It's possible St. Louis is keeping a lid on its plans for Austin.

Giovani Bernard, Bengals running back


We expect Bernard to see a significant workload right away as a rookie, and the game at Atlanta bolstered that theory. Bernard ran for 28 yards on 10 carries, with another 16 yards on three receptions. BenJarvus Green-Ellis brings more power to the run game, but Bernard gives Cincinnati some long-lost speed at the position.

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