The Duel

3 Most Surprising Rookie Debuts From Thursday Night's Week 1 NFL Preseason Action

Dan Israeli
New York Jets v New York Giants
New York Jets v New York Giants / Sarah Stier/Getty Images
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The bulk of Week 1 games for the 2019 NFL preseason were played Thursday night, which meant many high-profile rookies made their NFL debuts under the bright lights.

While some of the more hyped names made their mark, such as Chicago Bears' running back David Montgomery with 46 total yards and a touchdown, other rookies fizzled in their debuts.

Still, a handful of the most impressive performances came from players who aren't being pegged for breakout first-year seasons. Here are three rookies who delivered the most surprising debuts during Thursday night's action.

3. Preston Williams, WR, Miami Dolphins

Mark Brown/Getty Images

The depth chart for the Miami Dolphins at wide receiver is not pretty, which means that a significant role may be up for grabs during this preseason. One player vying for his shot is undrafted rookie Preston Williams, who turned a lot of heads in his debut by snagging four catches on five targets for 97 yards. Williams went undrafted, partly due to a checkered past, but he has shined in training camp and did all of his damage Thursday night with Josh Rosen at quarterback. This young duo clicking early on should be music to Dolphins' fans ears, as the pairing could be a sign of things to come. Williams is a big target at 6'4" as well, and if he can keep his act together at the NFL level, he could be a name worth keeping an eye on.

2. Jakobi Meyers, WR, New England Patriots

New England Patriots v Detroit Lions
New England Patriots v Detroit Lions / Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Patriots' wide receiver Jakobi Meyers had quite the debut in his team's 31-3 beatdown against the Detroit Lions. While most of the hype earlier this year was surrounding New England's first-round pick N'Keal Harry, it's the undrafted Meyers who has been talked up as Tom Brady's favorite target in training camp. Brady sat out the preseason opener, but Meyers shined, catching 6-of-8 targets for 69 yards and two touchdowns. With great size at 6'2" and 203 pounds, Meyers did a lot against the Lions toward securing a roster spot for the upcoming season. If he keeps this up, there's a chance he could leapfrog Harry in the pecking order once games start to count. Given the wide receiver situation in New England, he could even make for an intriguing deep sleeper in fantasy.

1. Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

Al Bello/Getty Images

After the New York Jets opened the game with a 75-yard TD drive, capped by a Sam Darnold toss to new wide receiver Jamison Crowder, it was time for New York Giants' rookie Daniel Jones to make his NFL debut. Jones, who the Giants received a lot of criticism for taking No. 6 overall in April's 2019 NFL Draft, did a lot to silence his critics with a 5-for-5, 67-yard, one-touchdown performance. Jones showed remarkable timing and accuracy, utilized play-action, and finished his night with a beautiful dime in the back of the end zone to Bennie Fowler III. It was just one drive, but he's already on the right track to proving all of those who said Jones could not compete at the NFL level wrong.


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