Football is finally back, and the first week of preseason action has concluded for the NFL. While these games may not count towards anything significant, they do mark a job interview of sorts for many players trying to make their way onto a final 53-man roster.
D2 Football alumni are notorious for slipping their way into the final few roster spots, and a few players this past weekend showed some skills worthy of consideration.
Take a look at the best standouts from the first week of preseason action, and make sure to check back later this week for players to keep an eye on for the second week of play.
Keelan Cole, WR — Jacksonville Jaguars
— Seahawks Fan (@centurylinkfiel) August 11, 2017
The former Kentucky Wesleyan product was one I tabbed as a "camp darling" early in the process of training camp, and he continued to show why he deserves a spot on the Jags' final roster with a great game against the New England Patriots.
Burning corner Cyrus Jones for a 97-yard score, Cole finished with two catches for 108 yards and one touchdown. While two catches is not a lot to go on for future evaluation, the touchdown will get him noticed by coach Doug Marrone.
Cole's ability to break open a big play at any given point might be the secret to getting Blake Bortles to play up to his potential. Jacksonville has a great set of receivers, but they lack significant depth. Cole could change that, and is worth monitoring as the preseason goes on.
Terrell Watson, RB — Pittsburgh Steelers
— Jesse Merrick WAAY31 (@jesseWAAY31) August 12, 2017
One of the players to watch prior to week one of the preseason, Watson lived up to the billing by getting significant action late in the Steelers' contest versus the Giants, sealing the victory with a 15-yard scamper into the end zone.
Watson had 44 yards on 10 carries to go with his one score, and his 44 yards were a game high for both teams on Friday night. Watson's name has popped up plenty throughout Steelers camp, and there are even some wondering if the Azusa Pacific alum could push for a spot on the final roster.
While it is unlikely he cracks the three-back group Pittsburgh will carry, a practice squad spot is all but sealed up for the new "nightmare" from APU. So long as he stays healthy, we will see Watson in the black-and-gold for much more than four preseason games.
C.J. Ham, FB — Minnesota Vikings
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 11, 2017
A star running back for Augustana in 2015, Ham is making the move to full back and has dazzled for the Vikings so far.
In his first game of action, Ham totaled 16 yards overall, with 11 coming on one reception. The other five yards for the Augie product came on three rushes, with one finishing in the end zone for the first touchdown of the game for Minnesota.
Blocking is still the biggest hiccup for Ham, as detailed by coach Mike Zimmer earlier in the preseason. While that improves, Ham is showing he can run and catch from the backfield and be a weapon Vikings fans may not have known they had coming in 2017.