Preseason football is here -- and while wins and losses mean nothing, individual performances can mean everything. As the preseason slate progresses, Bucky Brooks will be assessing the performances of notable players, handing out grades to provide context for the prior week's on-field action.
This week, we examine a key rookie from each team in the NFL, including the AFC South below.
HOUSTON TEXANS: Braxton Miller, wide receiver. There's plenty of intrigue surrounding the Texans' plans for Miller, based on the third-round pick's unique skill set as a quarterback-turned-wide-receiver at Ohio State. The two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year didn't disappoint against the 49ers on Sunday, posting four catches for 34 yards, including a spectacular 24-yard diving reception that showcased his athleticism and ball skills. Miller still needs to clean up his route running, but he is an intriguing playmaker with the potential to help lift some of the coverage on DeAndre Hopkins. GRADE: B
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Josh Ferguson, running back. Ferguson emerged as one of the stars of the Colts' offseason practices, but he did little to build on that momentum with his performance and production against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday. The undrafted free agent mustered only 3 yards on eight carries. Most disappointingly, Ferguson didn't have enough room to run or show the explosiveness that team officials have been raving about since OTAs. He's currently the penciled-in option at RB2, but Ferguson needs to have better production in the team's next outing to cement his place behind Frank Gore. GRADE: D
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Myles Jack, linebacker. The Jaguars' second-round pick has been a forgotten man on the national scene, but he remains a viable candidate to contend for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, based on his rare combination of skills (speed, athleticism, versatility and explosiveness) as an MLB. He flashed those skills in two quarters of work against the Jets on Thursday while directing the Jaguars' second-team defense. Jack finished the night with two tackles, but he made his big impact on the defense by serving as the traffic cop for the unit. As he gets more comfortable with his knee and the Jaguars' defense, Jack will begin to deliver the splash plays that made him a force at UCLA. GRADE: B
TENNESSEE TITANS: Derrick Henry, running back.The Titans' exotic smashmouth attack lived up to the hype Saturday, with the team rushing for 288 yards against the San Diego Chargers. Henry played a key role in the impressive outing by rumbling for 74 yards on 10 carries as the designated hammer for the offense. The 6-4, 247-pounder displayed outstanding strength and power running through tackles, but it was his nimble footwork and agility that impressed me the most when I watched the game. Henry made a few jump cuts at the point of attack that silenced concerns about his lateral quickness and body control. If the second-round pick continues to display dazzling skills behind veteran back DeMarco Murray, the Titans' renewed commitment to the run could make them a force in the AFC South. GRADE: A