NFC preseason grades: Reuben Foster, Marshon Lattimore shine

Final scores might not matter in the preseason, but individual performances sure do. Careers can be made, opportunities can be seized and depth charts can be decided in the exhibition contests leading up to the first kickoff that counts. To help put these moments into context, Bucky Brooks will provide a grade for one player of interest from every NFL team after each of the first three full weeks of preseason action.

Below, see the NFC player grades for Week 3:


Haason Reddick, LB: The rookie linebacker is beginning to look comfortable running with the first-team defense. Reddick displayed impressive athleticism, versatility and awareness roaming as a sideline-to-sideline defender against the Falcons. He not only held his own on rushing plays but also showed solid cover skills running with pass catchers down the field. Grade: B+


Takkarist McKinley, DE: The energetic pass rusher made his presence known during a strong performance against the Cardinals. McKinley flashed exceptional first-step quickness and closing acceleration on his pass-rush attempts while also displaying a non-stop motor that overwhelms blockers. Although he didn't register a sack, McKinley was disruptive off the edge and came up with a fumble recovery due to his sheer effort. Considering how McKinley's energy and relentless spirit pop off the tape, the Falcons' bookend rusher could wreak havoc on foes during the regular season. Grade: A-


Christian McCaffrey, RB: The rookie's hype train might slow down a little after a pedestrian performance in Jacksonville. McCaffrey totaled just 33 scrimmage yards on eight touches (seven carries, one reception), but flashed exceptional balance, body control and stop-start quickness in the hole on inside runs. With more opportunities and touches on the horizon when the regular season begins, McCaffrey's skills as an inside runner could help him steal some carries from Jonathan Stewart as a dot back in the Panthers' run-heavy sets. Grade: B-


Mitchell Trubisky, QB: The Bears' QB1 of the future continues to impress whenever he steps onto the field. Trubisky shows outstanding composure and confidence directing the offense as an athletic playmaker from the pocket. Against the Titans, he carved up the defense with a barrage of short and intermediate throws directed between the hashes or outside the numbers on quick-rhythm drops or half-roll bootleg action. With Trubisky also pushing the ball down the field on scripted "shots" and capable of leaving the pocket on impromptu scrambles, the Bears' offense looks more diverse and explosive with the rookie at the helm. Grade: A


Cooper Rush, QB: Few expected the rookie quarterback to make a run at the QB2 spot, but Rush is poised to supplant Kellen Moore as the Cowboys' top backup. Rush completed 12 of 13 passes for 115 yards and a pair of scores, exhibiting outstanding timing, anticipation and accuracy. The strong performance not only pushed his preseason numbers to impressive levels (29 of 33 for 311 yards with five touchdowns and zero INTs), but it forces Jason Garrett to seriously consider rolling with a rookie as the QB2. Grade: A


Jarrad Davis, LB: The rookie linebacker was picked on repeatedly by the Patriots in pass coverage on an assortment of option and jerk routes. Despite displaying outstanding athleticism and movement skills in previous games, Davis had a tough time running with New England's pass catchers between the hashes, leading to easy completions for Tom Brady. Considering the Pats' success in attacking the rookie linebacker, the Lions should expect more teams to target the middle of the field. Grade: C+


Jamaal Williams, RB:Ty Montgomery is expected to anchor the Packers' running game, but Williams is making a strong case to be prominently featured in the game plan. The rookie tallied 50 scrimmage yards (46 receiving, 4 rushing) on six touches, while showcasing a more diverse game than some expected. In the aerial attack, in particular, Williams looks like a viable option on checkdowns and screens out of the backfield. Grade: B+


Josh Reynolds, WR: The long, athletic pass catcher will likely earn some more playing time after a strong outing against the Chargers. Reynolds not only displayed big-play ability as an outside receiver, but he showed the kind of grit and toughness that coaches covet in a primary wide receiver. With three receptions for 71 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown along the boundary, Reynolds opened some eyes as a potential playmaker on the perimeter. Grade: B+


Laquon Treadwell, WR: Last year's first-round pick finally looks comfortable in the Vikings' system. Treadwell snagged three passes for 36 yards and repeatedly found open voids in coverage. Although he still needs to work on creating separation from tight coverage, the big-bodied pass catcher has enough talent and potential to develop into a strong WR2 for the Vikings. Grade: B


Marshon Lattimore, CB: The Saints' new CB1 lived up to the hype as a potential shutdown corner. Lattimore easily handled being targeted on the perimeter with a pair of pass breakups and sticky coverage, particularly on a deep ball intended for Jaelen Strong. As the Saints move toward a more blitz-happy approach, Lattimore's solid cover skills could help this D finally get back on track. Grade: A


Evan Engram, TE: The Ole Miss standout looked as good as advertised as a potential mismatch playmaker at "Y." Engram snagged a pair of passes for 32 yards, exhibiting superb route-running skills, hands and running ability. In addition, he held his own in the running game, as evidenced by his solid block on Orleans Darkwa's 1-yard score. With Engram showing outstanding versatility and effectiveness as a jumbo WR/athletic TE, the Giants have a dangerous weapon to add to a star-studded lineup on the perimeter. Grade: B


Mack Hollins, WR: The underrated pass catcher has made his mark with the Eagles throughout the preseason. Hollins showed flashes of big-play potential in previous games, but he acted as strictly a "chain mover" against the Dolphins on the way to a five-catch, 44-yard effort. He simply makes the plays that are expected to be made in the passing game, and that's more than enough to earn the trust of the QB1 and head coach. Grade: B


Reuben Foster. LB: The rookie linebacker looked like the best player on the field against the Vikings. Foster chased down runners and pass catchers from sideline to sideline, exhibiting outstanding instincts, awareness and acceleration. He finished the night with eight tackles, including a tackle for loss, while commanding the middle of the field like a warlord. If the preseason is any indication, the 49ers' D will return to prominence with Foster leading the charge. Grade: A+


Chris Carson, RB: The rookie is making a strong bid to win the Seahawks' RB1 job with his play in the preseason. Carson tallied 90 scrimmage yards on 10 touches (eight rushes, two catches) while exhibiting outstanding balance, body control and versatility as a "big" back. Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls have been penciled as potential starters, but the seventh-round pick might change Pete Carroll's plans prior to the regular season. Grade: B+


Chris Godwin, WR: The rookie is expected to fill the WR4 role during the regular season, but he showed Dirk Koetter and Co. that he could occupy the No. 1 spotagainst the Browns with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson on the sidelines. Godwin used his superior size and strength to separate from defenders on the way to a four-catch, 56-yard performance against the opposing 1s. With Godwin showing impressive versatility while moving around formations as a lead receiver, the Buccaneers could enhance the rookie's role to add another dimension to an already high-powered offense. Grade: B+


Rob Kelley, RB: The runner's strong performance silences some of the questions regarding the team's running game. Kelly attacked the holes with plenty of juice and showed a little pitter-pat weaving through traffic to get to the second level. With the Redskins looking to lean on the running game to alleviate some of the pressure on Kirk Cousins, Kelly's strong play against the Bengals in the "dress rehearsal" is a positive sign. Grade: A-

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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