During the preseason, the focus for most NFL teams it to get a look at the young players on the roster. Teams want to get a feel for what their rookies bring to the table and how they perform in game situations. For most of these unproven players, these preseason games can be the difference between playing in the NFL for years and watching their professional football careers end before they begin.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the impressive rookie performances that came from Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game.
Justin Bethel, Cornerback
If Bethel was hoping to put his name in the running for one of the Cardinals’ subpackage cornerback spots, he found a great way to do it. Whenever he was on the field on Sunday, the Presbyterian alumnus was flying around and finding his way into plays. He racked up four tackles on the day and looked good in coverage as well. With so much experience on the cornerback depth chart, it’ll be tough for Bethel to crack the Cardinals’ 53-man roster. Performances like that will definitely help, though.
Ryan Lindley, Quarterback
Although the stat sheet won’t wow anybody, Lindley did an admirable job in his first real NFL action. The former San Diego State star stayed cool and collected despite consistent pressure and found ways to connect with his receivers. He displayed some of the accuracy concerns that made him slip all the way to the sixth round, but Lindley also showed enough to prove that he has some potential as an NFL quarterback. Ten for 21 passing might not be ideal, but 118 yards is a solid start for the young gunslinger.
Blake Gideon, Safety
For the most part, Gideon was quiet during his first taste of NFL action. The one big play that he did turn in, however, perked some ears. While in with the Cardinals goal-line defense, Gideon made a big interception in the endzone. He read the play well and was in perfect position to create the turnover. He’s not overly-gifted in the physicality department, but makes up for his deficiencies with instincts and smarts. Gideon might just be worth a longer look if he keeps making those kinds of plays.
New Orleans Saints
Travaris Cadet, Running Back
It’s safe to say that Cadet stole the show on Sunday night. Even though he’s considered a running back, the former Appalachian State standout made his mark as a receiver, hauling in eight passes for 80 yards. His second-quarter touchdown gave the Saints a strong lead heading into the locker room and his effectiveness as a receiver helped keep the Cardinals offense off of the field. It’ll be tough for Cadet to crack the loaded running back depth chart, but New Orleans will find a way to keep him on the roster if he keeps this type of production up throughout the preseason.
Tyrunn Walker, Defensive End
There was some buzz throughout Saints training camp that Walker could be one of those unheard-of players to keep an eye on. In his first NFL game, the Tulsa product didn’t disappoint. Throughout the game, it was hard not to spot Walker around the ball. He consistently was a disruption for the Cardinals’ offensive line while tallying one sack. Especially if the Saints struggle to get sacks from the starters when the regular season starts, Walker could be the boost their pass-rush needs.
LaRon Scott, Cornerback
It’s was an up-and-down game for Scott, who was considered by many as a longshot to make the roster coming into the game. After failing to field a punt that pinned the Cardinals deep in their own territory, Scott redeemed himself with a 67-yard kickoff return during which he seemed unwilling to go down. There were some questionable decisions on Scott’s part, but the big return during which he broke several tackles showed the type of explosiveness that earns roster spots in the NFL.
*Update: On Monday afternoon, the Saints waived Scott.