Five NFL players who made the most of their preseason playing time

Profile Picture: Jeremy Jones

August 30th, 2021

The preseason is important for many players in the NFL for various reasons. Whether it's a rookie trying to make an early impression, a seasoned veteran looking to fit into a new team, or an unheralded player just looking to make a roster spot.

These five players made the most of their opportunity in the preseason.

1. Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars)

The No. 1 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft didn't have to do a lot to win the starting job in Jacksonville. However, a rookie quarterback always needs to prove they aren't a bust and can play in this league. Lawrence had an impressive preseason starting from his second snap onwards.

In the first game, Lawrence completed six of nine passes for 71 yards. In his second game, he went 14-for-23 for 113 yards including a nine yard rush. In the final preseason game, Lawrence put it all together and went 11-for-12 for 139 yards and two touchdowns. He will be more than ready to live up to his hype based on his preseason experience.

2. A.J. Rose Jr. (Minnesota Vikings)

This rookie has quite the different motivation from Lawrence. Rose went undrafted and signed as a free agent for the Vikings in May. He was an extreme longshot to even make it to the final roster cut, but now he may have played his way onto the final 53-man roster.

In the first preseason game, Rose outperformed fellow stablemate Ameer Abdullah by rushing for 100 yards on 25 carries and had a reception for 18 yards. The second game was a poor outing for both backs, but in the third and final game, Rose rushed for 41 yards and two touchdowns on only six carries. Abdullah, meanwhile, had 21 yards on six carries.

3. Marquez Callaway (New Orleans Saints)

The Saints went into this preseason with questions at both quarterback and wide receiver. With Michael Thomas on the PUP list, there was an opening for playing time among the rest of the receiving corps.

Callaway stepped right up and showed he deserves to be the go-to target when the regular season rolls around. In the first game, he had three catches for 61 yards. In the second game, Callaway went off for five catches, 104 yards, and two touchdowns. The third preseason game was cancelled, but it hardly matters as Callaway has clearly secured his role in this offense.

4. Justin Fields (Chicago Bears)

Another rookie quarterback, but this one is facing far more competition for the starting QB job. Fields was a longshot to win QB1 honors after Chicago signed veteran Andy Dalton in the offseason, but his showing in the preseason has Bears fans wanting him to start sooner rather than later.

In his debut, Fields completed 14-of-20 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown to go along with five carries for 33 yards and another TD. He struggled passing in the second game, going 9-for-19 for 80 yards, but he did add 46 yards rushing on four carries. In the preseason finale, Fields got the start and went 7-for-10 for 54 yards and a touchdown. He will not start Week 1, but he certainly shortened what he's capable of if, and when, Dalton falters.

5. Terrace Marshall Jr. (Carolina Panthers)

The top two wideouts in Carolina are virtually set with D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson returning. However, the remaining targets were wide open between their second round draft pick, Terrace Marshall Jr., and free agent signing, David Moore.

Marshall impressed immediately with three catches for 88 yards in his debut. In the second game, he had a third of his team’s receiving yards, going for 50 yards on three catches. In the final game, Marshall hauled in three catches for 43 yards and a touchdown while playing with both D.J. Moore and Anderson.