Cal football alumni makes presence known in NFL preseason

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The NFL season is just around the corner, and the preseason has given us a few glances into how former Bears performances should look in the new season.

There’s not much use in extrapolating too much from a total of four preseason passes, but after a rough rookie season that had critics chomping loudly declaring him to be an unsalvageable bust, three for four, 34 yards and a touchdown certainly has to feel good for last year’s number one pick, Jared Goff. In his game against the Cowboys, Goff started his second series only 33 yards away from the end zone after a botched punt return from America’s Team. An excellent throw on the run from play action moved the Rams into the red zone, and a well placed toss on a simple slant opened the game’s scoring with a touchdown (after a fumble and recovery).

There’s most likely no one capable of spinning Goff’s first season in a truly positive way, but it’s fair to simply throw it away because of how poorly constructed everything about the Rams offense was. Defaulting back to the collective thought regarding Goff from when he was drafted, a mediocre decision maker with a big and dynamic arm, there are reasons to be optimistic about the Cal product’s second season.

New head coach Sean McVay comes in from designing Washington’s high-flying offense that has a chance to make Goff’s decision making simpler, and with major additions along the offensive line and wide receiver (Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods were brought in from Buffalo via trade and free agency, respectively), the on-field product is sure to improve.

In other quarterback news, the New York Giants’ third-round pick, Davis Webb looked a lot like, well, Davis Webb out there. Characteristically erratic, Webb was every bit like the project the Giants have been planning to put on the inactive list for the 2017 season. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; most of Webb’s supporters would conceded that he’s not the type of rookie ready to be plugged into any sort of playing time right away. A hectic college career (on and off the bench, and transferring between two schools with gimmicky offenses) may have stunted his growth into an NFL-ready prospect. But his arm, size and swagger were still worth making a bet on for many teams.

He only got into the Giants game against the Steelers in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, and his first pass was an ugly misfire way over the head of his receiver that could have easily been intercepted. His final stat line of eight for 16 with 67 yards doesn’t do much to help the perception of a poor debut, especially combined with one of his typical overthrows on a deep ball coming on fourth down.

On the other hand, who cares? He’s a cocky rookie with accuracy issues that no one expects to take on a big role for a few years. He was taken relatively high because he’s the type of player to come out and try to make a big impact on every single play, and that’s what he did.

Neither Chad Hansen or Khalfani Muhammad got too much playing time, and because they played each other when the Titans and Jets matched up this weekend, they can be quickly discussed while grouped together.

Hansen’s chances of contributing to Jets this season jumped up this week when wide receiver Quincy Enunwa went down with a season-ending neck injury. An already poor arsenal of offensive weapons is now in even more desperate need of someone to step up, and Hansen will get a real shot at being the answer even after being limited in training camp because of leg issues. The bad news for Hansen is that right now, absolutely everybody has a shot, and as one of 17 (17!) Jets to be targeted for a pass this week, he only made one catch for 10 yards. I’d still expect his impact to grow as we go further into the preseason.

The Titans have a crowded backfield with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry both needing a healthy amount of reps, but even with Murray sitting out this week, Muhammad barely got into the game. He ran the ball just once, but the optimistic view for his future playing time would be focused on the two receptions he made. If he is to be a part of the Titans 2017 plans in any real way, it will almost certainly have to be as a pass catching scatback and as a kick returner, so any use he gets in those positions is probably a positive sign.

Trevor Davis almost never saw the field as a Packer in his debut season, catching just three balls. But as Jordy Nelson ages, it seemed doubtful that head coach Mike McCarthy would let Davis’ skillset go to waste for another season, especially considering fellow Bear Aaron Rodgers’ penchant for turning nobodies into stars. Davis still didn’t do much receiving-wise this week, but a touchdown on a punt return should go a long way to making sure he make some sort of impact in Green Bay this year.

Andrew Wild is the assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @andrewwild17.