The 5 biggest difference makers from NFL preseason Week 2

Week 2 of 2022 NFL preseason is in the books, and we learned just a little bit more about everyone into the start of the regular season. Sure, it’s a largely pointless exercise that shouldn’t be overemphasized — but we did see some standout performances that could indicate depth success in the regular season.

That’s really what everyone should look at here. Don’t worry about whether rookies succeed or fail, or care who actually wins. Pay attention to guys who are showing skills that could indicate regular season success, or which team is winning the depth battle. That’s where preseason can help.

No. 1: KaVontae Turpin, WR/ST — Dallas Cowboys

98 yard KR for a touchdown, 86 yard PR for a touchdown

If you want impact, look no further than KaVontae Turpin. The Cowboys’ rookie was absolutely scintillating on special teams this week. He achieved the ludicrously rare double of a kick and punt return for a touchdown, and these weren’t short returns either. He went from DEEP and took it all the way to the house.

When you consider that most teams play their special teams units like normal in preseason this really could highlight something special coming down the pike.

No. 2: Kenny Pickett, QB — Pittsburgh Steelers

6-for-7, 76 yards, 1 TD

This is less about the raw numbers (which were great), and more about the impact of Kenny Pickett playing excellently in two weeks back-to-back. The rookie showed poise in the pocket, an ability to lead the team, and this week he was asked to do a little more with his arm.

There’s a legitimate discussion to be had whether Pickett could become the Week 1 starter now, which seemed impossible before training camp. I still don’t know whether the Steelers will throw him to the wolves like this, but as it stands Pickett looks like the best QB Pittsburgh have on their roster.

No. 3: Alex Bachman, WR — New York Giants

11 receptions, 122 yards, 2 TD

If you want a feel good story this week: Here it is. Bachman is a small, depth receiver who was an afterthought in the Giants depth chart. Now he might solidify himself as part of the 53 man roster thanks to this week, as well as his special teams skills.

A large part of Bachman’s day was clicking with third string QB Davis Webb, who targeted the receiver all day long. It kept producing results though, so no harm no foul. Bachman’s 11 receptions were the most he’s ever had in a game (including college) and he shined with big eye-popping numbers like above, but also when he made a critical special teams tackle.

This was a big day for the 26-year-old, and he’ll be a player to watch.

No. 4: T.Y. McGill, DT — Minnesota Vikings

5 tackles (2 solo), 1.5 sacks

McGill has been all over the NFL since being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2015. The Vikings are now his 9th stop since entering the league and he’s been desperate to stick to a roster.

Now he might actually do it.

The Vikings already have a solid defensive line, but McGill has been a standout player this preseason. However, against the 49ers he really took over, showing an ability to eat space, and get penetration. These are all things the Vikings desperately need, and I think we could see him become a force for the team.

No. 5: Isaiah Likely, TE — Baltimore Ravens

8 receptions, 100 yards, 1 TD

Who needs receivers when you’ve got tight ends? Mark Andrews is already one of Lamar Jackson’s favorite targets, and he’s destined to be joined by rookie Isaiah Likely, who had a big game against the Cardinals and showed incredible ability to pick up yards after the catch.

This could be big. Andrews will command double teams this season as one of the best TEs in the NFL, and the emergence of Likely will add a wrinkle to the Baltimore offense that will be very difficult to defend.

It’s a little early to get too excited, but this could be a big year for Lamar Jackson thanks to these two.

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