Not counting San Francisco wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who is recovering from his ACL tear, the five NFL rookies who made it to camp all played this past weekend in the opening weekend of the preseason.
Most notably, Shaquille Mason started at left guard for New England Patriots. He opened to mixed reviews. Reports from the game credited him with effective blocks in the running game, including one on a 55-yard run, but also noted he was beaten for two sacks.
Wrote Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, “Mason is an intriguing prospect, and he should improve; it’s just a matter of if he can do it quickly enough to be a factor as a rookie.”
Seattle linebacker Quayshawn Nealy made one tackle, on a 19-yard pass play. Notably, Nealy, who was an undrafted free agent, was given 41 defensive snaps, sixth most on the team. He also played 19 special-teams snaps, which was the most on the team. Obviously, coaches wanted to give him a long evaluation, which means he has a shot at making the roster. For what it’s worth, the Seattle Times projected him to not make the 53-man roster. As an undrafted rookie, Nealy is obviously swimming upstream.
Baltimore wide receiver Darren Waller made a catch for 12 yards early in the second quarter that converted a third-and-5. He was targeted three times. Notably, New Orleans defensive backs were called for defensive holding, illegal contact and pass interference on throws to Waller. (Interestingly, the latter two were called against cornerback Damian Swann, the former Georgia Bulldog. You may recall Waller caught a touchdown pass over Swann in last year’s Tech-Georgia game.)
Waller, a sixth-round pick, appears to be in a tight battle to make the roster. The competition includes former Wake Forest star Michael Campanaro.
Detroit safety Isaiah Johnson had two tackles, at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. Johnson is an undrafted free agent. He played 18 defensive snaps, 11th most, and two special-teams snaps.
St. Louis fullback Zach Laskey had one catch for nine yards that converted a fourth-and-1 near the end of the third quarter.