There were 24 NFL teams doing work Thursday night in Week 1 of the preseason, the first time since the playoffs that multiple games took place in a single day.
Starters didn’t play a ton for most teams, but we did see a few really interesting things develop when they were on the field.
For the most part, Thursday night’s preseason action was all about the players who are fighting for roster spots and position on the depth chart.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from the action.
Winner: Saquon Barkley is still ridiculous
All it took was one play — the first from scrimmage for New York, no less — for Saquon Barkley to announce his arrival on the NFL stage. And what an arrival it was.
The rookie out of Penn State showed off his full repertoire of moves and skill in one single play. He avoided would-be tacklers with smooth lateral moves and exceptional vision, then hit the accelerator and left them in the dust for a 39-yard gain (watch here).
All told, Barkley rushed for 43 yards on five carries, so he didn’t do much outside of that one breakaway play. But it’s his ability to do that on any given play that makes him so valuable to New York’s offense.
Loser: Denzel Ward struggles with discipline
The No. 4 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft had some rough moments during the early going against New York Thursday night. Mainly, those moments centered around discipline, both physical and mental.
First, Ward did not contain the aforementioned Barkley on the edge, allowing him to spring outside for his big run on the first play of the game from scrimmage. Then he earned a 15-yard taunting penalty for standing over receiver Hunter Sharp after a big hit. Those two mistakes by the rookie had a lot to do with the Giants scoring their first three points.
Winner: Nathan Peterman and Kelvin Benjamin catch fire
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